Reading Recommendations · Beyond Bestsellers: Notable New Fiction Titles (February 2013)
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.
Considered Sweden’s Stephen King, Linqvist writes the sort of creepy horror that makes you want to cover your eyes but peek out to keep reading. A couple finds an abandoned baby girl in the woods and takes her home, discovering that she has a keen sense of melody. Raised in isolation, Theres appears to have an amazing vocal talent. When she appears on a TV singing competition, she attracts the attention of Teresa, another lonely adolescent. Bonding and building a fan base of outsider teenage girls, the sinister duo composes a blood-spurting finish.
If this sounds like a holiday mystery, it is – but maybe not what you think. The holiday is Robert Burns Night, an annual supper celebration of the Scottish poet. This is the second in the series, following Twelve Drummers Drumming, to feature Father Tom Christmas, the new vicar in the small English village of Thornford Regis. It’s all very Scottish picturesque – bagpipes, haggis, much toasting to the romantic poet –until the hotel owner (and fellow piper) goes missing. Of course, every good party needs a snowbound mysterious guest too. Delightfully cozy.
“The Midwestern resort town of Pemkowet boasts a diverse population: eccentric locals, wealthy summer people, and tourists by the busload; not to mention fairies, sprites, vampires, naiads, ogres and a whole host of eldritch folk, presided over by Hel, a reclusive Norse goddess. To Daisy Johanssen, fathered by an incubus and raised by a single mother, it’s home.” Carey begins a fun, new urban fantasy series introducing a heroine whose job is to keep the peace between the human and the eldritch communities -- and it’s often the humans that give her more trouble.
The five parts of this novel, although they touch briefly upon each other, are more like an LP which has been created by the same artist, the selection of each number arranged to give maximum effect and yet each standing alone as a single. Faulks, known for his historical writing, gives each of his stories a strong sense of time and place for the protagonist – Geoffrey the World War II volunteer, Victorian England’s Billy in the workhouse, French servant of the 1800s Jeanne, ‘70s folk singer/songwriter Anya, and futuristic science researcher Elena.
Leon takes a break from her Commissario Guido Brunetti mysteries to write a stand-alone story. Baroque opera scholar Caterina Pellegrini takes a temporary assignment involving two locked trunks belonging to a 17th century composer. Family members are squabbling over possession, and it is hoped that Caterina’s research will decide who should have the “treasure” once she delves inside the cases. Like her mystery series, Leon’s writing is steeped in details that make readers breathe the Venetian air and feel they have traveled as well as been entertained.
When a lunatic escapes from London’s well-known Bedlam asylum, astute Bow Street Runner Matthew Hawkwood is put on the case. In a “gripping and gruesome” story that has Matthew pondering empty gravesites, 19th century London’s underworld is a cesspool of unsavory characters, dirty streets, foggy nights, and dark corners that give the body snatchers an advantage. Definitely not for the queasy reader, the solution to the puzzle comes in a secreted operating room where Frankenstein-like experiments are carried out in the dead of night.
Pulitzer finalist Millet concludes her Los Angeles trilogy (How the Dead Dream and Ghost Lights) with this novel about death and the dead. Guilt over her husband’s passing eats away at Susan Lindley. So when she learns that she has inherited a house from a great-uncle she barely knew, it offers her the opportunity she hopes will help soothe her conscience. The house is filled with mounted heads and entire stuffed animals, at first unsettling, but then restoring them becomes a restoration for Susan’s soul too. A keen commentary on preservation and survival.
Known for his playful postmodern style, Saunders presents a critically acclaimed fourth short story collection. In fact, in a New York Times Magazine article, Joel Lovell called Tenth of December, “the best book you’ll read all year”, and this was less than a week into 2013. Most of the nine stories collected here appeared previously in The New Yorker. From an interrupted suicide to a mother’s rejection of a puppy for her children to laboratory experiments, Saunders delves into the minds and motives of his characters, giving a lot of punch in small packages.
This one is for Downton Abbey fans who long for more stories about those lovely country estates and believe the house is what matters most. In Wilhide’s tale, nearly 250 years pass as a brother and sister debate selling the family home they just inherited. Vignettes covering different time periods are threaded together to give a history of the house, with attention to both the upstairs and the downstairs sides of life. Details of renovations, additions, and interior decorating help set the time periods and provide more of a “you-are-there” feel to the chronicle.
Dick Wolf is a member of the creative team that made TV’s “Law and Order” such a hit and now puts his flair for suspense to use in writing an adrenaline-packed story of international intrigue. Using the 9/11 attack and ensuing terrorist threats as his basis, Wolf carves out an intricate plot of twists and turns at a pulse-racing pace. NYPD intelligence agent Jeremy Fisk is on the alert when a diverted terrorist act seems to him to be just that – a diversion guaranteed to make security relax. Fisk will be returning for more action in future installments so get on board now.
Need more suggestions? Contact your local branch and our staff will be happy to assist you!