From Hannah to Vargas Llosa | Barbara’s Fiction Picks, Feb. 2018

Hannah, Kristin. The Great Alone. St. Martin’s. Feb. 2018. 448p. ISBN 9780312577230. $28.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250165619. CD. Macmillan Audio. POP FICTION
In 1974, what could be harder for 13-year-old Leni Allbright than having a dangerously unsettled Vietnam vet dad? Having him lose yet another job and decide to move the family to the Alaskan wilderness, where they can live off the land. The summer of their arrival proves glorious and golden, but trouble comes with the winter snows, as supplies dwindle and Leni’s father becomes increasingly unbalanced. In that great, wild space, no one is around to hear you scream for help. With a million-copy first printing; Hannah is, after all, a No. 1 New York Times best seller.

Hart, John. The Hush. St. Martin’s. Feb. 2018. 432p. ISBN 9781250012302. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250012296. THRILLER
Hart has five New York Times best sellers to his name, and he’s the only author to win the Edgar for two consecutive novels, one of which was The Last Child. Johnny Merrimon, that novel’s appealing young protagonist, returns here ten years later, seeking privacy by living in the wilds beyond the town rocked by Last Child’s tragedy. He’s still friends with Jack, who senses that there’s danger in those rugged surrounds that Johnny knows but won’t share. Another Hart-felt examination of the human psyche; with a national tour.

Mosley, Walter. Down the River unto the Sea: Detective, Heal Thyself. Mulholland: Little, Brown. Feb. 2018. 336p. ISBN 9780316509640. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780316509657. lib. ebk. ISBN 9780316510714. CD/downloadable: Hachette Audio. MYSTERY
In this latest from Mystery Writers Grand Master Mosley, a stand-alone that could be the launch of a whole new series, top NYPD investigator Joe King Oliver is framed for assault by bad guys within the force and ends up in solitary at Rikers. Now he runs his own agency with teenage daughter Aja-Denise. When a woman writes to confess that she was paid to sell him down the river, he becomes his own client, determined to find out who wanted him out of the force and why. Meanwhile, he’s helping an African American journalist accused of killing two police officers. With a 100,000-copy first printing.

Navin, Rhiannon. Only Child. Knopf. Feb. 2018. 304p. ISBN 9781524733353. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9781524733360. Downloadable: Random Audio. POP/FAMILY
German-born, New Rochelle, NY–based Navin offers one of the big debuts of next year, narrated by a six-year-old who has suffered a terrible trauma. He huddled in a school closet with his classmates and teacher as a gunman ranges through the school, killing 19 people. While Zach’s mother seeks to hold the shooter’s parents responsible, Zach retreats into his own special hideaway and uses his imagination to heal. With a 125,000-copy first printing.

Oates, Joyce Carol. Beautiful Days: Stories. Ecco. Feb. 2018. 416p. ISBN 9780062795786. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062795809. SHORT STORIES
Two lovers married to others insist that they will at least be ruthlessly honest with each other. A devious professor takes advantage of a woman who trusts him too much. A young woman realizes that her good-girl persona doesn’t match the intensity deep in her soul. And, in a 2017 Pushcart Prize–winning story, “Undocumented Alien,” a young African studying in America must gather his courage and his wits when his student visa is inexplicably yanked. Including 13 stories altogether; with a big push on social media, where the redoubtable Oates is active.

Vargas Llosa, Mario. The Neighborhood. Farrar. Feb. 2018. 256p. tr. from Spanish by Edith Grossman. ISBN 9780374155124. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780374716134. LITERARY
Editor of a magazine that loves to dish the dirt, Rolando Garro publishes salacious photographs of successful businessman Enrique when he refuses to fund the magazine. Meanwhile, Enrique’s wife is indulging in a super-secret affair with the wife of Enrique’s best friend and lawyer. So Garro’s murder has reason to unsettle them all. Set in the 1990s, during the corrupt years of Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori’s regime, this work is both crime thriller and social commentary and will keep fans of Nobel Laureate Vargas Llosa happy. Note in Nonfiction Picks that he has sharply worded essays coming our way, too.


Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.

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