Best Sellers

Saturday, January 30, 2016

On With February and Out With February

Because of the holidays at the beginning of the  month, this has been a short month. I have quite a few titles to share with you and only this post to do it in so......beware - here I go.

Alexander Chee has The Queen of the Night will be published on February 2. This is Chee's second novel but both are historical fiction. This one takes place in Second Empire Paris and follows the life story of Lilliet Berne, an opera singer. Berne was born in the American frontier but when her whole family dies of fever, she works her way to Europe. After working hard to conceal who she is and where she came from, she is offered the starring role in a drama which is basically the story of her life. Through flashbacks we find what she is trying to conceal while she desperately tries to find out who betrayed her.

Paul Goldberg, a Moscow born reporter and nonfiction author, has his first novel, The Yid, coming out on February 2. It is a darkly funny historical novel. Just in advance of Stalin's "Doctors' War", three friends work on a plot to assassinate Stalin. When three of Stalin's police show up to arrest an old comedian, the game is on.

Into Oblivion by Arnaldur Indridason is the second prequel to his Icelandic series featuring Inspector Erlendur. Here he is an Inspector working with his partner on two cases. One is an unofficial working of the unsolved disappearance of a young girl twenty years earlier and the other is an investigation of a body found in a geothermal spa which leads back to the Army base. This series has won many awards so all police procedural lovers should at least give it a try.

From Iceland, we move to Holland. Marion Pauw has her American debut being published on February 16th, Girl in the Dark. It sounds really good. Iris is a successful lawyer and a single mother with a difficult son. She discovers that she has a brother that her mother has kept hidden. He is autistic and in prison for the murder of a neighbor and her daughter. Could this gentle soul that Iris found and who reminds her so much of her own son really have committed that crime? She, of course, has to find out.

Michael Sears has the fourth Jason Stafford series title arriving, Saving Jason, on February 2nd. After serving prison time, financial investigator Jason Stafford is asked to check out rumors that a hostile takeover of his firm is in the works. He finds himself involved in a grand jury investigation of Mob activities on Wall Street and is placed in witness protection with his autistic son. And then.....his son disappears. Action packed suspense kind of Elmore Leonard like.

Joe R. Lansdale writes horror but he also has a darkly funny mystery series starring Hap Collins and Leonard Pine. This is soon to become a SundanceTV series in the spring. On February 2, Honky Tonk Samurai, the eleventh in the series, is coming out. Hap is a former 60s activist and Leonard is a tough black gay Vietnam vet and a Republican. While working a surveillance job, Leonard beats up a dog abuser who wants to press charges. A woman arrives at their PI office with a proposition...find her missing granddaughter or she will turn in a video of the beating. Soon they trace her granddaughter to a used car dealership which is actually a front for a prostitution ring. Things go downhill quickly from there. These are quirky but also quite bloody. There may be a rush on Lansdale's title when the series comes out.

Two more before the end and they will be quick.

Robert Knott continues Robert B. Parker's Virgil Cole-Everett Hitch western series with Black Jack which comes out on February 2. Cole and Hitch contend with a new troublemaker in the town of Appaloosa - Boston Bill Black, the owner of the new casino, who's wanted for murder. Do they ever lose?

And lastly, Rosamund Lupton. I have loved her first two works. Lupton writes fast paced, atmospheric suspense like S.J. Bolton or Tana French. The Quality of Silence comes out on February 16. Here a mother and daughter are traveling to Alaska to meet up with the husband when they learn he has been killed in an accident. They want to find out what really happened and continue driving through a terrible storm. This is told from the mother's and the daughter's (who,by the way,is deaf) point of view and Alaska really comes alive.

OK - there you go. There are more of course, but these are the ones that I am looking forward to reading. Hope there is something there for you too.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Nominees for 2016 Edgars

On January 19, the Mystery Writers of America announced the 2016 nominees for the Edgar Awards. I can't let that pass without listing them. I will give title, author and brief description for the nominees for Best Novel and Best First Novel by an American Author. Luckily, the library has all available or on order.

Best Novel

The Strangler Vine by M.J. Carter. A mix of adventure and historical mystery. While tracking down a missing writer who has exposed the true nature of Calcutta society in 1837 India, a young soldier with few prospects, a secret political agent and a master of disguise are drawn into the mysterious Thuggee cult and its even more ominous suppression.

The Lady From Zagreb by Philip Kerr. I love this author's Bernie Gunther series and this is one of them. Bernie is a WWII and after German PI. Think Raymond Chandler type PI. In this work, Gunther is forced to do favors for Joseph Goebbels. Set in Croatia, Bernie finds himself in a world of mindless brutality where everyone has an agenda.

Life or Death by Michael Robotham. Robotham writes fast paced, psychological suspense stories and this is no different. Brutalized in prison for a decade for his alleged knowledge about where a fortune in stolen money is hidden. Audie mysteriously escapes the day before his scheduled release in a determined effort to save someone's life.

Let Me Die in His Footsteps by Lori Roy. Roy has won the Edgar before so we will see. In this story, a 15 year old girl from a small Kentucky town sneaks onto a rival family's property and discovers a dead body. She is forced to confront dangerous past events in order to protect the future. There is a kind of Appalachian atmosphere in this one or maybe Southern Gothic.

Canary by Duane Swierczynski. Sarie Holland is a typical honors student, yet her life becomes anything but when she gives a cute guy a ride and it turns out to be a drug buy. Before she knows it, he's on the run, and she's been arrested. In order to avoid possible jail time, Sarie agrees to become a confidential informant for well-meaning undercover narcotics officer Ben Wildey, Now she is in real trouble.

Night Life by David C. Taylor. Although Taylor has written for television and film, this is his debut novel so receiving this nomination might be more than enough glory this first time out. This work may be the start of a strong series. It's main character, Michael Cassidy, is a NYC cop. In 1954 New York City, cop Michael Cassidy, whose father is a successful Broadway producer and his godfather is a Mafia boss, investigates the brutal murders of young men that garners the attention of the FBI, CIA and the Mafia, while spending his nights with a beautiful new neighbor--who may actually be his enemy.

OK - Best First Novel

Past Crimes by Glen Erik Hamilton. This may also be the start of a series featuring Van Shaw. When his estranged grandfather is shot and left for dead, Shaw. am Army Ranger, must try to find the murderer before he is arrested for the crime.

Where All Light Tends To Go by David Joy. I am a sucker for a strong sense of place and this one has that. The beauty of the Appalachian mountains contrasted against the dark depths of realistic life in those same mountains. Jacob McNeely, the 18-year-old son of a meth-addicted mother and a sociopathic father who operates a drug ring, has always believed he can’t transcend his roots. But when his childhood sweetheart, Maggie Jennings, graduates from high school, she asks him to leave the mountains with her, and he begins to envision a life free of his family legacy. Threats to his father’s business provoke violence, however, ensnaring Jacob in murder and betrayal even as he plans his escape.

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll. This one has gotten quite a few negative reviews so I am surprised to see it on this list. Grooming herself for an ideal life involving a successful career and a happy marriage, a rising young journalist confronts a violent episode from her past that threatens to unravel everything she has worked to achieve. It is said to be dark and brooding.

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen. I am not exactly sure I would define this as a mystery but I guess the mystery writers did so who am I to judge. Viet Thanh Nguyen escaped to this country with his family after the Vietnam war when he was 4 or 5. This work is obviously based on his cultural experiences.  It begins with its nameless protagonist, a highly placed young aide to a general in the South Vietnamese army, recalling how he finalized the details of escape before the fall of Saigon. But our hero is a double agent, a communist sympathizer who will continue to feed information to the North even after he makes the harrowing escape with his loyalist friend Bon and the general's family on the last plane out, and becomes part of the Vietnamese refugee community in Southern California.

Lastly, Unbecoming by Rebecca Scherm. After a heist she planned lands two men she loves in prison, a woman flees Paris and assumes a new identity, furtively checking news from her hometown as her web of deception unravels.

Let's guess who wins the two prizes.

Friday, January 15, 2016

February Titles

There are only a few big names out this month in my opinion so I am going to start with the thrillers and mystery titles out this month. There are one or two big names there.

First, Jeffrey Archer has Cometh the Hour, the sixth in his Clifton Chronicles, coming out on February 16. Archer writes a combination of suspense/family sagas. This title can be read alone although if you have read the previous novels, you will enjoy catching up on your familiar friends and enemies. It starts with a suicide note which effects most of the major characters and continues on with tales of spies;  rescues and love. Reviewers have been singing it's praises.

M.C. Beaton has another Hamish MacBeth cozy coming out on February 23, Death of a Nurse. It is hard to not like these mysteries (this is number 31). Hamish MacBeth for the uninitiated, is a small town Scottish policeman who always gets his man but is definitely not looking for advancement thank you. In this case, a new man, James Harrison, moves to town with a private nurse. When Hamish goes to welcome him, he gets treated rudely but makes a date with the nurse who later turns up dead. Of course Hamish MUST find the killer.

Alex Berenson has The Wolves coming out on February 9. Berenson writes fast paced suspense with a current event slant. This is the tenth in the John Wells series. This is a sequel to Twelve Days where John Wells barely managed to defuse a world war starting between Iran and the US. Unfortunately, the person who got the ball rolling for that, managed to escape. In this series entry, Wells is determined to nab him. Not everyone thinks this is a good idea.

The Art of War by Stephen Coonts comes out on February 2. I get confused by Coonts' series. He has 10 Jake Grafton titles which seem to have stopped in 2003 and he has the Tommy Carmellini series which this where this book is. However, Jake Grafton is a major part of the Tommy Carmellini series. So why aren't they all in the Jake Grafton series???? I don't know. In this the Chinese military are beginning to attacking fishing vessels and seizing natural resources in the South Chinese sea. The US goes on high alert. However, at home, a Chinese sleeper cell has planted a nuclear weapon in the harbor at Norfolk, Virginia. Then, the CIA director is assassinated and Jake Grafton is appointed to take his place. Grafton gets wind of the plot and he and Tommy Carmellini must stop it. If you haven't read Coonts before, he is kind of like a Nelson DeMille or maybe in some ways, a Vince Flynn. Try him.

Alison Gaylin has What Remains of Me coming out on February 23. Gaylin writes character driven, fast paced, suspense like Harlan Coben or C.J. Box. In this stand alone, Kelley Michelle Lund goes to jail for murder - 35 years later, 5 years after Lund was freed, her father-in-law is found murdered in the same way. Was she guilty of that crime too? Her husband believes in her but her husband's sister think Lund is a psychopath. Who is right?

One of the big names, Jonathan Kellerman,  has Breakdown: An Alex Delaware Novel coming out on February 2nd. No need to describe Kellerman's style of writing. Delaware, a child psychologist, is called in to examine the son of an emotionally deranged actress. Five years later, he is called again when the actress if found almost naked and raving in a stranger's yard. The star, Zelda, is catatonic and cannot tell him the where about of the child. Delaware starts to investigate when he is notified that Zelda is has been found murdered. Now he and his sidekick, Milo Sturgis have a murder as well as a missing person to investigate.

J.D. Robb, another author who needs no description, has Brotherhood in Death coming out on February 2. This is the 42nd Eve Dallas title so you know how popular this series is. I think people like these because they can depend on them for some love, some sex, some zingy dialog and some suspense and mystery. this one has all of those things. If you like this series, you will read it, if you don't - I don't think anything I said will tempt you. Just know it is coming.

OK - that isn't all of the thrillers out this month but it gives you a heads up on some. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

LibraryReads for February

The list of titles that librarians across the country love the most that are being published in February, just came out. This is a good one and really, there is only one that I would not have put on there. Checked these out and see what you think.

Most popular is Ruta Sepetys' Salt to the Sea. Sepetys writes historical fiction and as with a lot of historical fiction, it can be describing traumatic events. She, herself, it an interesting story - a Lithuanian American born in Detroit, founder of a firm that represents musicians and an author. This story is about the sinking of the M.V. Wilhelm Gustloff, a passenger liner designed to hold less than 1500 passengers that contained over 10,000 evacuees escaping Stalin in 1945. When a Russian submarine torpedoed it, 9,343 passengers died. This is told from the point of view of four young people who had been thrown together. Reviewers call it 'intensely satisfying'; 'well researched'; 'amazing'; and impossible to put down.

Now for the rest in no particular order:

Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase. The only author that I can compare Chase to is Kate Morton. They both write moody, kind of Gothic fiction. In this story, the 4 Alton children spend their summers playing at Black Rabbit Hall. Then a tragedy occurs and everything changes. 30 years later, Lorna decides her wedding should be there when she discovers a message left by one of the children carved into a tree. The tale goes back and forth between the two time periods and the secret unfolds. Reviewers seems to love this book.

A Girls' Guide To Moving On by Debbie Macomber. Macomber is a popular author who writes contemporary romances and inspirational stories about women in difficult situations. If I was comparing her to anyone, it would be Richard Paul Evans. They are kind of sweet stories. This one is about a mother, Leanne, and her daughter-in-law who both leave cheating spouses to start over.

Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson. Johnson is a debut author who writes quirky, moving fiction. I can not say to whom she compares. This story is quite original and the reviewers just love it. I have put it on my list to check out when it arrives. Hired to assist a famed reclusive writer trying to recapture her lost fortunes by completing a new manuscript, Alice Whitley becomes obsessed with identifying the paternity of her employer's precocious young son. Frank, the son, favors clothing from 1930, does not get along with other kids and knows more than he should. One reviewer says it was "Deeply felt, but never sentimental....Peopled with deeply flawed, fully realized characters I cared about." I can't wait.

Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon. Once again, I don't know who to compare this author to....maybe a little of Caleb Car mixed with some Phillip Kerr. She writes atmospheric historical mysteries although this one is more historical than mystery because we know the ending. It is the story of the last flight of the Hindenburg. Lawhon uses the real names of crew and passengers. It follows the airship for the 3 days of travel. Because we don't know today how the tragedy occurred, Lawhon follows 4 of the crew members and builds a tale around their interaction and the unraveling of secrets. Reviewers LOVED this book. I am surprised it didn't make it to the top of the list.

13 Ways of Looking At a Fat Girl by Mona Awad.  Another debut author that is funny in a very sad way. This tale is about how destructive a negative body image can be. It follows Lizzie/Elizabeth/Liz from a teenager to a married adult. As an overweight teen, she hates herself and after loosing weight with a self punishing drive, she still hates herself. Said to be a funny as it is heartbreaking, it is the story of a young woman whose life is destroyed by a negative body image.

Fighting Dirty by Lori Foster. Foster writes steamy romances and this one is the fourth in the Ultimate series. The series follows MMA fighters. This one follows Armie and Merissa's story. Armie is the bad boy and best friend of Merissa's brother and Merissa is the good girl. Can Merissa convince Armie that she won't give up? What do you think?

Find Her by Lisa Gardner. Gardner writes intricately plotted suspense kind of like Chelsea Cain and in particular this title is almost like Cain's Kick series. This title is the 8th in the D.D. Warren series and is darker that the previous ones. It follows Flora Dane who was kidnapped while on spring break 7 years ago and survived 472 days before breaking free. Now, she has become a vigilante of sorts until.....she is captured again and this time, it doesn't look like she will escape. Now it is up to D.D. Warren to find her.\

The Opposite of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson. Jackson writes moving Southern fiction with characters who come from tough backgrounds. This title is no different. Paula Vauss was born in Alabama but spent the first decade of her life travelling with her mother, Kai, an itinerant storyteller. Then, because of a mistold story, Kai lands in jail and Paula in foster care. Now, Paula is a tough divorce attorney in Atlanta. Every month she sends money to her mother who she has not seen in 15 years. Then, her last check is returned and Paula discovers she is not an only child but an older sister. Now, Paula feels like she has to find out what has happened. She sets off on a discovery of her past.
Said to be a beautiful novel by a master of language.

Lastly, The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer. Hamer is another debut author. This title was published in Great Britain last February and was a finalist for the Costa Book Award for First Novel. It will be published in this county on March 5 (guess that is early enough to make the Feb list). It is not your standard run of the mill suspense story although from the title you would never know that.
Carmel is 8 years old and she has always been different (sensitive and distracted). Her mother, Beth, is newly single and when she takes Carmel to a local festival, Carmel disappears. Beth never gives up on the hope of finding her. The story is told alternating between Beth and Carmel. It seems that a gentleman approached her and told her he was her grandfather and that her mother had had an accident. In reality, she begins a very strange period with a man who believes she is a savior. Although there is a good amount of suspense and people are saying they had difficulty putting it down, there is also a great deal about the relationship between a mother and daughter.

Hope there is something above that appeals to you. Next week we will go into the popular offerings in February. Oh - and Happy New Year!!