Booklists · Beyond Bestsellers: Notable New Fiction Titles (August 2012)
Only a few books reach the top of the fiction bestseller charts, but there are many more terrific new titles available at the Library. Here are some recent favorites.
A smart thriller that’s less dependent on action and more on politics and finances, Trigger Point is set in the near future where the US is trying to maintain its status as top dog. While the political side of the story is set in Uganda, the underlying villain is the Chinese government. After all, someone has to be backing those subversive renegade groups. Hitting the US with a physical army plus a secret Chinese army of economists/investors set to topple stability in US banks is a double whammy that will have worldwide repercussions.
Using the game of cricket as a literary device to voice the political and social climate of Sri Lanka in the 1990s, Karunatilaka makes a big splash on the international scene with his prize-winning first novel. Hard-boozing sportswriter Wijidasa Karunasena is working on a piece about Sri Lanka’s greatest cricket players. He is tracking down the illusive Pradeep Mathew, a key player in the 1996 World Cup championship, who blasted into the spotlight and just as quickly faded away. Mathew’s status is legendary, but could the man also be the stuff of legends?
In this eighth novel featuring Nazi-despising Bernie Gunther, the detective has been commanded to serve under Reinard “the Hangman” Heydrich, the newly appointed Reichsprotector of Bohemia. In celebration of his new post, Heydrich has invited 39 top ranking comrades to join him at his castle residence for a weekend celebration. When one of the guests is found murdered in a seemingly locked room, Bernie is awash in suspects since every one of the visitors deals in the business of killing. Oozing with atmosphere and a criminologist that doesn’t miss a trick.
“Keep calm and pray for dawn.” Lauded as the “steampunk debut of the year”, volume one of The Immortal Empire takes place in 2012, the 175th year of the reign of Her Majesty Queen Victoria. In Locke’s London, a version of the plague (side effect – undeadliness) has infested the Aristocracy, turning them into werewolves and vampires. Xandra Vardan is a halvie – human and Aristocracy – who is a member of the Royal Guard, the protectors of the Aristocracy. When she investigates her sister’s disappearance, she uncovers a plot more terrifying than the light of day.
Cleveland is the setting for a contemporary retelling of Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth. The narrator of the story tingles with delight and quakes with dread when her childhood friend, Ellie Hart, returns to the exclusive enclave of Shaker Heights society after a failed marriage. Ellie is on the prowl to marry for money – heaven forbid, she should need to work! – but would prefer love to go along with it. Her potential mates have lessened during her absence, but Ellie isn’t too picky about a man’s current marital status as she looks over the season’s selections.
In a story that gives new meaning to quirky couples, few could be as charming as astronaut Maxon and his Stepford-perfect wife Sunny. While Maxon, who understands human interaction in algebraic formulas, is on the way to the moon to start a colony of reproducing robots, a car accident shatters pregnant Sunny’s façade. Her blonde wig is flung away, and her natural hairless state is revealed. Embracing her return to an authentic self, Sunny stops medicating their autistic son, takes her mother off life support, and declares normalcy a non-virtue.
Two sci-fi biggies team up for the first book in a series of adventures about travel to alternate, parallel universes. “Stepping”, or traveling to one of those other worlds, can be accomplished through a boxed potato and wire device, but some people like Joshua Valienté are natural-born Steppers. The transEarth Institute hires Joshua and sends him outward to explore the infinite variables of Earth, not knowing that creatures from other layers are moving inward as danger approaches from the far side.
This sequel to Drive, the 2005 novel and the 2011 movie starring Ryan Gosling. is a study in the art of noir fiction where tone matters much more than plot. Obviously there are the bad guys and lengthy pursuits where sometimes it’s not clear who is in the lead. Driver is out to find the bad guys who killed his fiancé, but the journey matters as much or more than the final destination. If “you read for that peculiar mix of helplessness and adrenalin that comes from seeing where the road ends and trying to drive through it anyway, fasten your seatbelt.”
It’s the last three days leading up to Daphne Van Meter’s wedding, and her father approaches the usually quiet, secluded island summer house with trepidation. And well he should, but not because it’s been overrun by hysterical matrimony-minded females for the last week. For New England blue bloods whose club memberships and school affiliations matter almost as much as Mayflower lineage, it is a small world. Gathering together people with too much history for a ceremony where the heavily pregnant bride symbolizes passion is sure to set off some fireworks.
Set in 1663 New Amsterdam (now Manhattan), this debut novel reads like a historical spy thriller. Orphans are going missing. When the bodies are found, items left there seem to indicate a witika, a legendary evil-doer of local Indian lore. But to some, the grisly deeds seem more manmade, and the beautiful Blandine van Couvering takes time from her pelt trading business to investigate. Newly-arrived Brit Edward Drummond joins her cause, giving cover to his spy activities. A fascinating time period with an equally fascinating heroine.
Need more suggestions? Contact your local branch and our staff will be happy to assist you!