Up Next: DOUBLE EXPOSURE by Ava Barry (Pegasus)

BarryA-DoubleExposureUSHCLong-time readers of CR will know how much I enjoy crime, mystery, and thriller fiction. Especially novels from those genres set in Los Angeles — there’s just something about the City of Angels that lends itself to a whole swathe of crime/mystery fiction.

Last year, I read Ava Barry‘s debut novel, Windhall, which turned out to be one of my favourite reads of the year (review here). After learning that the author had a new novel on the way — Double Exposure — I cheekily reached out to the publisher, in the hope of receiving a review copy. A little time passed, and a hardcover arrived in the mail! I waited until I’d finished up with a long work project, but I’ve decided to get started with it tonight.

In this heart-pounding tale of deception, a young P.I. must unravel the secrets behind the murders of a Los Angeles heiress’s parents.

Four years ago, a beautiful young heiress survived an attack that claimed the lives of both of her parents. The crime made headlines all over Los Angeles, both for the vicious nature of the killings and the seemingly random nature of the attack: nothing was stolen, and the van Aust family had no obvious enemies. Melia van Aust fled the city soon after the murders – which were never solved – but her brother Jasper has not been seen since.

After a childhood spent in the shadow of her famous parents, Rainey Hall understands the dynamics of a dysfunctional family. She still hasn’t recovered from a tragedy that tore her own family apart six years before. It’s part of the reason why she started her own private investigation agency—to aid victims of crimes that might otherwise go unsolved.

When Melia returns to Los Angeles and moves back into her family home, someone begins sending her increasingly violent messages that allude to the killing of her parents. She hires Rainey to track down the culprit and find her missing brother. Touched by the similarities between their lives, Rainey feels compelled to protect Melia, even when it becomes clear that their relationship has become more than professional.

Soon, Rainey finds herself falling down the rabbit hole of Melia’s life. Her quest to find Melia’s stalker will bring her in contact with disgraced royals, seedy neighbors, violent ex-boyfriends and former staff, each one with their own set of secrets. As the threats against Melia escalate and the two women are drawn together, it’s only a matter of time before another victim turns up.

Ava Barry‘s Double Exposure is due to be published by Pegasus Books, on October 4th.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Instagram

Upcoming: WITCH KING by Martha Wells (Tor.com)

WellsM-WitchKingUSHCWitch King was announced quite some time ago, but with the newly-unveiled cover hitting the internet a couple days ago (maybe yesterday?), I wanted to feature it on CR. Martha Wells is the author, of among other excellent books and stories, the acclaimed Murderbot Diaries (also published by Tor.com). Witch King, the author’s first new fantasy novel since 2017’s The Harbors of the Sun, it is the first in an entirely new setting. Here’s the synopsis:

“I didn’t know you were a… demon.”
“You idiot. I’m the demon.”

After being murdered, his consciousness dormant and unaware of the passing of time while confined in an elaborate water trap, Kai wakes to find a lesser mage attempting to harness Kai’s magic to his own advantage. That was never going to go well.

But why was Kai imprisoned in the first place? What has changed in the world since his assassination? And why does the Rising World Coalition appear to be growing in influence?

Kai will need to pull his allies close and draw on all his pain magic if he is to answer even the least of these questions.

He’s not going to like the answers.

Witch King is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on May 30th, 2023. I really can’t wait to read this.

Also on CR: Reviews of All Systems Red, Artificial Condition, Rogue Protocol, Exit Strategy, Network Effect, and Fugitive Telemetry

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

A Month of Social Media Frustration

Screenshot 2022-09-23 at 1.40.46 PM

So, this afternoon, I opened Twitter to find the message, above. It was, as I’m sure you can imagine, quite a surprise.

I have no idea why my account has been permanently suspended. There was no more detail in the app, but an email stated that it was for “Violating our rules against evading permanent suspension.” Given that, prior to that email arriving, I had never been suspended, warned, cautioned, or in any way run afoul of Twitter rules/guidelines… it is a mystery (I don’t recall ever even getting the “Are you sure you want to Tweet that?” pop-up.) I have appealed, of course, so maybe this will be resolved as some strange glitch. Continue reading

Annotated Excerpt: NOTORIOUS SORCERER by Davinia Evans (Orbit)

EvansD-NotoriousSorcererThis evening, we have an annotated excerpt from Notorious Sorcerer by Davinia Evans. The novel is due out tomorrow, to be published by Orbit. Here’s the synopsis:

In a city filled with dangerous yet heavily regulated alchemical magic, a man from the slums discovers he may be its only hope to survive certain destruction in this wickedly entertaining fantasy. 

Welcome to Bezim, where sword-slinging bravi race through the night and rich and idle alchemists make magic out of mixing and measuring the four planes of reality.

Siyon Velo, Dockside brat turned petty alchemist, scrapes a living hopping between the planes to harvest ingredients for the city’s alchemists. But when Siyon accidentally commits an act of impossible magic, he’s catapulted into the limelight — which is a bad place to be when the planes start lurching out of alignment, threatening to send Bezim into the sea.

It will take a miracle to save the city. Good thing Siyon has pulled off the impossible before. Now he just has to master it.

A dazzling fantasy bursting with wild magic, chaotic sword-fighting street gangs, brazen flirting, malevolent harpies, and one defiant alchemist.

Now, over to the author…!

Continue reading

Guest Post: “Voices Across Time” by E. J. Swift

SwiftEJ-CoralBonesUKOne of the themes I wanted to explore in The Coral Bones was the relationship between human beings and non-human animals and beings, and how those relationships have changed — and could change for the better — over time. I’d always conceptualised the novel with multiple timelines and knew that I wanted to reflect both forward and back. Each timeline brought its own specific challenges.

Climate breakdown, and the bleaching of coral reefs caused by heating oceans, is at the heart of Hana’s contemporary storyline, so I decided the historical narrative should be situated early in the fossil fuel age. Whilst Judith is writing her diary in 1839, steam is beginning to revolutionise the world, at a cost no one — at least, no one in Judith’s colonial British society — could imagine. My last novel, Paris Adrift, included historical sections, but those were from the perspective of a time traveller. Writing a historical POV offered a whole new challenge in developing the voice and trying to instil some period texture. Whilst Judith pushes against her social constraints, she is still a product of her time and subject to the worldviews and prejudices of the Western age of exploration — full of enthusiasm for knowledge and discovery, but inextricably linked with imperialism. Continue reading

New Books (July-August)

NewBooks-20220903

Featuring: Julia Bartz, Christopher Bollen, Ness Brown, John Brownlow, Ed Brubaker, Wesley Chu, Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Frank Dikötter, Sean Doolittle, Erin M. Evans, Isaac Fellman, Denny Flowers, John French, Andrea Hairston, Thilde Kold Holdt, Jacqueline Holland, Vaseem Khan, Taylor Koekkoek, Fonda Lee, Scotto Moore, Annalee Newitz, Malka Older, K.J. Parker, Sean Phillips, Taylor Jenkins Reid, Richard Norton Smith, A. J. Tata, P. J. Tracy, Nghi Vo

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Quick Review: A SECRET ABOUT A SECRET by Peter Spiegelman (Knopf)

SpiegelmanP-ASecretAboutASecretUSHCA murder at a secluded research institute unveils decades of secrets

Looming high above the cliffside along a remote coastline, Ondstrand House is the headquarters of the shadowy biotech firm Ondstrand Biologic. When the body of the organization’s most gifted young scientist, Allegra Stans, is discovered in a walk-in refrigerator — her neck has been broken — Agent Myles is called in to investigate. Myles works for Standard Division, the most feared element of a vast state security apparatus, and he’s been dispatched to the brooding manor, a massive stone campus that once housed a notorious boarding school, to do what Standard Division agents do best — complete the task at hand.

As his investigation proceeds, Myles discovers that “gifted scientist” is only one thread in the complicated fabric of Allegra’s life. There are darker strands as well — of ambition, manipulation, and bitter grievance — all woven into a pattern of secrets, each presenting a reasonable motive for murder. It appears everyone has something to hide, including Allegra’s colleagues, lovers, and former lovers — even the very halls of Ondstrand House itself.

Questions continue to pile up: What interest does Standard Division, an organization best known for intelligence gathering and clandestine international operations, have in this seemingly straightforward case? Could the killing have anything to do with the sprawling estate’s sordid past? And what, exactly, is this research facility researching? Before long, another murder is discovered, and Myles finds himself an increasingly unwelcome presence in an ever more hostile landscape with few allies and fewer answers.

Peter Spiegelman’s Dr. Knox was one of my favourite reads of 2016, and I’ve been eagerly anticipating his new novel ever since it was announced. A Secret About a Secret is another satisfying read, one that offers a different take on the crime/mystery genre than did the aforementioned Dr. Knox. I very much enjoyed this. Continue reading

Upcoming: THE RED SCHOLAR’S WAKE by Aliette de Bodard (Gollancz)

deBodard-RedScholarsWakeUKHCsmEarlier today, Gollancz unveiled Alyssa Winan‘s eye-catching cover for Aliette de Bodard‘s next novel: The Red Scholar’s Wake! Set in the author’s beloved Xuya universe, albeit separated from the region/events of universe’s other novels and stories. The author has said that it is a “[s]tandalone plot and more intimate, more focused on romance. (And some piracy, politics, and space battles obv. And tea and dumplings).” Here’s the synopsis:

Xích Si: bot maker, data analyst, mother, scavenger. But those days are over now-her ship has just been captured by the Red Banner pirate fleet, famous for their double-dealing and cruelty. Xích Si expects to be tortured to death-only for the pirates’ enigmatic leader, Rice Fish, to arrive with a different and shocking proposition: an arranged marriage between Xích Si and herself.

Rice Fish: sentient ship, leader of the infamous Red Banner pirate fleet, wife of the Red Scholar. Or at least, she was the latter before her wife died under suspicious circumstances. Now isolated and alone, Rice Fish wants Xích Si’s help to find out who struck against them and why. Marrying Xích Si means Rice Fish can offer Xích Si protection, in exchange for Xích Si’s technical fluency: a business arrangement with nothing more to it.

But as the investigation goes on, Rice Fish and Xích Si find themselves falling for each other. As the interstellar war against piracy intensifies and the five fleets start fighting each other, they will have to make a stand-and to decide what kind of future they have together…

Really looking forward to reading this! The Red Scholar’s Wake is due to be published in the UK (and Commonwealth) by Gollancz on November 24th. There is no news (yet) of a North American release.

Also on CR: Guest Post/Excerpt on The House of Shattered Wings

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Excerpt: THE LAST GIRL TO DIE by Helen Fields (Avon Books)

FieldsH-LastGirlToDieUKPBToday, we have an excerpt from The Last Girl to Die, the new novel by Helen Fields. The latest mystery from the author of the D.I. Callanach series, this appears to be a stand-alone. Due to be published by Avon Books tomorrow, here’s the synopsis:

In search of a new life, seventeen-year-old Adriana Clark’s family moves to the ancient, ocean-battered Isle of Mull, far off the coast of Scotland. Then she goes missing. Faced with hostile locals and indifferent police, her desperate parents turn to private investigator Sadie Levesque.

Sadie is the best at what she does. But when she finds Adriana’s body in a cliffside cave, a seaweed crown carefully arranged on her head, she knows she’s dealing with something she’s never encountered before.

The deeper she digs into the island’s secrets, the closer danger creeps – and the more urgent her quest to find the killer grows. Because what if Adriana is not the last girl to die?

Now, on with the excerpt…

Continue reading

Quick Review: THE RESEMBLANCE by Lauren Nossett (Flatiron Books)

NossettL-ResemblanceUSHCA mysterious hit-and-run, a dedicated detective, and the many secrets of the privileged

Never betray the brotherhood

On a chilly November morning at the University of Georgia, a fraternity brother steps off a busy crosswalk and is struck dead by an oncoming car. More than a dozen witnesses all agree on two things: the driver looked identical to the victim, and he was smiling.

Detective Marlitt Kaplan is first on the scene. An Athens native and the daughter of a UGA professor, she knows all its shameful histories, from the skull discovered under the foundations of Baldwin Hall to the hushed-up murder-suicide in Waddel. But in the course of investigating this hit-and-run, she will uncover more chilling secrets as she explores the sprawling, interconnected Greek system that entertains and delights the university’s most elite and connected students.

The lines between Marlitt’s police work and her own past increasingly blur as Marlitt seeks to bring to justice an institution that took something precious from her many years ago. When threats against her escalate, and some long-buried secrets threaten to come to the surface, she can’t help questioning whether the corruption in Athens has run off campus and into the force and how far these brotherhoods will go to protect their own.

A detective with deep roots in the university community comes face-to-face with the worst of campus tradition and life, in this intriguing and engaging debut mystery from Nossett. The author keeps the reader guessing, raises the stakes nicely throughout the book, and delivers a satisfying mystery. I enjoyed this a lot. Continue reading