December 2013

Reading Recommendations · Beyond Bestsellers: Notable New Fiction Titles (December 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.
Cover of Seven for a Secret

Seven for a Secret

Lyndsay Faye
Set in 1846 just after the establishment of the city's copper-starred police force, Faye's second mystery featuring young NYPD officer Timothy Wilde is once again a gritty, atmospheric tour de force. (Last year's The Gods of Gotham, Edgar nominee for best mystery novel, begins the series.) Wilde gets caught up in local politics when he needs his brother's expertise to track down some Southern bounty hunters who have kidnapped members of a free Black family. Although also a policeman, Valentine doesn't share Timothy's moral integrity.

Fallen Land

Patrick Flanery
The area known as Poplar Farm continues to claim its share of sorrows when the Noailles family moves into the foreclosed dream home of land developer Paul Krovik. Mysterious happenings in the night seem part of 7-year-old Copley's problem adjusting to his new home, but he insists there is a man who lives behind the pantry in the basement. It seems Krovik has become a survivalist, holed up in a bunker that doesn't appear on any of his development plans. Tension and uncertainty splits the family apart as no credible explanation seems possible.
Cover of Parasite

Parasite

Mira Grant
Compared to Crichton and other "all too realistic" technothriller authors who set their stories in the not-too-distant future, Grant has presented a medical dilemma. Ingestion of the Intestinal Bodyguard, a tapeworm that keeps infections and disease at bay, has virtually wiped out illnesses. In fact, it was most likely the agent of Sally Mitchell's recovery from an all-but-fatal car accident. However, SymboGen, the pharmaceutical company, may not be as altruistic as they appear. And what happens when the tapeworms decide they want more stake in the game?

Death of a Nightingale

Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis
This historical mystery, the third featuring Danish Red Cross nurse Nina Borg, follows the very successful The Boy in the Suitcase. The empathetic Nina is trying to protect an outsider child, a Ukrainian refugee whose mother has been accused of murder, when there is an attempt to kidnap the girl. Besides the main plot of reuniting mother and child, there is a storyline involving two Ukrainian sisters in the 1930s and the deplorable conditions of their life in the Stalin era. Of course, these two plots will merge, but just how and when heightens the suspense.
Cover of The Infatuations

The Infatuations

Javier Marias
Marais is one of Spain's best-selling authors and recipient of many European literary awards. His latest book is a novel of ideas more than plot--what can we infer about casual acquaintances? What distinguishes love from infatuation? How do we handle grief? The simple plot involves a woman who sees a couple at a cafe every day and supposes a beautiful life for them. Upon learning that the husband was stabbed to death, Maria's need to contact the wife leads to ambiguity about what she believed to be true and a tangle of relationships.

Bleeding Edge

Thomas Pynchon
One of the 5 novels nominated for the National Book Award and listed on Publishers' Weekly Top Books of 2013, Bleeding Edge has a darkly humorous sense of character and space in the dot-com meltdown just before 9/11. New York working mom Maxine Tarnow is a very astute fraud investigator. Working with a suspended license and a loaded Beretta, she takes on a case involving a computer security company called hashslingerz. Many unsavory characters, a Russian billionaire, snappy dialogue, and a feverish pace all mix for one labyrinthian plot.
Cover of The Sound of Things Falling

The Sound of Things Falling

Juan Gabriel Vasquez
This international bestseller from one of Latin America's most important and talented authors was named one of NPR's 6 Best Books of the Summer. Drive-by assassins open fire on Antonio Yammara and Ricardo Laverde, killing the latter. Yammara decides to find out more about his casual acquaintance and what provoked the attack. His investigation takes him back to a time when drug cartels ran rampant in Bogota and everyone seems to have some connection to one side or another. Reality becomes shades of memories intermixing past and present.

Let Him Go

Larry Watson
The rule of the Old West still applies--Margaret Blackledge, feeling wronged, is taking the law into her own hands and is out to get her man. But the modern twist is that Margaret is out to retrieve her grandson, her only living link to her dead son. Her former daughter-in-law has married into a tightknit and violent family, as Margaret and her husband George come to learn. The road trip from North Dakota to Montana is not without peril, and someone must make the ultimate sacrifice at the final showdown.
Cover of The Maid's Version

The Maid's Version

Daniel Woodrell
A local tragedy haunts three generations of a family in Woodrell's slim novel. In 1929, there was an explosion at the Arbor Dance Hall in West Table, Missouri. Alma DeGeer Dunahew lost her sister in the fire and has her suspicions about the cause of the blast. When her grandson comes to stay with her, nearly thirty-five years later, Alma discloses her version of the story. Woodrell is able to pack great power in a few words, bringing townspeople to life in less than a page and making the reader feel the emotion and grief that Alma feels.

The People in the Trees

Hanya Yanagihara
Based on real-life Nobel Prize winning scientist Carleton Gadjusek, Yanagihara has created a protagonist who, while somewhat admirable, is not very likeable. The story, written as the memoir of Dr. Norton Perina, involves the discovery of a Micronesian tribe, some of whom live hundreds of years although the mind cannot be preserved as the body can. Stealing the sacred turtle meat and kidnapping several tribe members, Perina's research proves prize-worthy yet causes ethical and environmental damage beyond repair. Academic and literary prose meld to make a top read of 2013.
Need more suggestions? Contact your local branch and our staff will be happy to assist you!