New Books! (December, Pre-Xmas)

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Featuring: Stefan Ahnhem, Cristina Alger, Ros Barber, Clifford Beal, Stephen Birmingham, Eric Brown, Robin Burcell, Sarah Cain, Matt Carter, Toby Clements, Michael Cobley, Jamie Doward, Michael Ebner, Dan Fesperman, Alison Gaylin, Steven Gore, Ian Graham, Samantha Hunt, Mary Robinette Kowal, Joe R. Lansdale, Helen Lowe, Andrew Marr, Charles McCarry, Peter Newman, K.J. Parker, Daniel Polansky, Stephen S. Power, Terry Pratchett, Jamie Sawyer, Victoria Schwab, Charlotte Silver, Anna Small, A.F.E. Smith, Jean Stein, Tricia Sullivan, Michael Thomas, Ilija Trojanow, Catherynne M. Valente, Jo Walton, Hester Young

FireflyCurseInevitableBetrayal

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AhnhemS-FR1-VictimWithoutAFaceUKStefan Ahnhem, VICTIM WITHOUT A FACE (Head of Zeus)

A KILLER WITH A MESSAGE

The first victim was a bully who liked using his fists. The second was a thug who favoured steel-capped boots. Their bodies bore the marks of a killer who knew their sins. A single clue was left at the scene: a class photo from 1982, with two faces neatly crossed out.

A DETECTIVE WHO CAN’T LET GO

There are eighteen men and women in the photo who are still alive – and one of them is the lead detective on the case. Fabian Risk thought he’d left his schooldays behind. Now his classmates are dying for the sins of their childhood … Who is the faceless killer who’s come back to haunt them?

CAN YOU EVER HIDE FROM JUSTICE?

I picked this up on a whim — I spotted it in the Head of Zeus catalogue, checked on Amazon, and it was only 99p (for a 500+ page novel). So, naturally, I bought it immediately. It sounds great, and I’m looking for a big, thick thriller to sink my teeth into. According to the publisher’s website, it’s the first in the Fabian Risk series. Published in print in the UK in January 2016, by Head of Zeus.

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AlgerC-ThisWasNotThePlanCACristina Alger, THIS WAS NOT THE PLAN (Simon & Schuster)

Charlie Goldwyn’s life hasn’t exactly gone according to plan. Widowerhood at thirty-three and twelve-hour workdays have left a gap in his relationship with his quirky five-year-old son, Caleb, whose obsession with natural disasters and penchant for girls’ clothing have made him something of a loner at his preschool. The only thing Charlie has going for him is his job at a prestigious law firm, where he is finally close to becoming a partner.

But when a slight lapse in judgment at an office party leaves him humiliatingly unemployed, stuck at home with Caleb for the summer, and forced to face his own estranged father, Charlie starts to realize that there’s more to fatherhood than financially providing for his son, and more to being a son than overtaking his father’s successes.

At turns heartbreaking and hilarious, This Was Not the Plan is a story about loss and love, parenthood, and friendship, and what true work-life balance means.

I had mixed feelings about Alger’s debut, The Darlings, but I was interested enough to pop this on my To Read “shelf” on Goodreads. Someone at S&S Canada noticed and sent me an ARC. Which was a rather nice surprise. I’ll be reading this pretty soon. Published in Canada by Simon & Schuster in February 2016.

Review copy received from publisher

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BarberR-DevotionUSRos Barber, TITLE (Oneworld)

It is the near future, and moves have been made to classify religious fundamentalism as a form of mental illness. Criminal psychologist Finlay Logan must assess the sanity of a young woman who has committed a religiously-inspired atrocity, but in a state of grief after the death of his daughter, he is struggling with his own mental stability.

In an attempt to reach his patient, an elective mute, Logan seeks the help of Gabrielle Salmon, a cognitive scientist whose experimental procedure — “the process” — is said to alleviate guilt, shame and suffering by creating a direct experience with God.

After seeing the results of “the process” in his patient, Finlay must choose either to medicate his grief or undergo “the process” to try to save himself.

With nimble, provocative thinking at the intersection of science and religion — as well as brilliant storytelling through use of a dual narrative — award-winning author Ros Barber creates a daring novel unlike any other.

Looked like it might be interesting. Out now, published by Oneworld Publications.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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BealC-GunsOfIvreaClifford Beal, THE GUNS OF IVREA (Solaris)

A swashbuckling new sea-faring fantasy series begins! A gritty, thrilling epic that reads like a cross between Patrick O’Brian and George R.R. Martin, bringing together the tang of the sea and the taste of cold steel.

Acquel Galenus, former thief and now monk of no particular skill, indifferent scribe and even worse chorister, uncovers a terrible secret under the Great Temple at Livorna that could shiver the one faith to its core. A secret that could get him killed. A secret that could enable an older, more sinister form of worship to be reborn…

Pirate princeling Nicolo Danamis, mercenary to the King and captain of the largest fleet in the island kingdom of Valdur, has made one deal too many, and enemies are now closing in to destroy him.

And Citala, fair-haired and grey-skinned, the daughter of the chieftain of the Merfolk who inhabit the waters of Valdur, finds herself implacably drawn to the affairs of men. She puts events in motion that will end her people’s years of isolation but that could imperil their very existence…

All their fates will intertwine as they journey through duchies and free cities riven by political intrigue, religious fervour, and ancient hatreds. Alliances are being forged anew and after decades of wary peace, war is on the wind once again…

Pirates! This sounds pretty interesting. Hopefully read very soon. Published by Solaris in February 2016.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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coverStephen Birmingham, THE WRONG KIND OF MONEY (Open Road Media)

A gripping novel of dark family secrets, bigotry, lust, and lies set in the world of the phenomenally wealthy

The Liebling family is among the wealthiest in New York, but in the eyes of “old money” gentile aristocrats like the patrician Van Degans, they will always be lower-class Jewish nouveau riche — especially since it’s common knowledge that patriarch Jules Liebling built the powerful Ingraham Corporation from the profits he made selling liquor during Prohibition while in cahoots with dangerous mobsters. Jules is long dead and his widow, Hannah, runs the business with a tyrannical hand. Hannah is reluctant to turn over the reins to the heir apparent, her capable son Noah, despite the fact that she is now well into her eighties.

But when Noah’s wife, Carol, meets Georgette Van Degan for lunch at Le Cirque, gossip circulates around Manhattan about a thaw between the families and, quite possibly, a partnership. As rumors fly, family skeletons on both sides are exposed, leading to jealousy, betrayal, and even violence. Author Stephen Birmingham explores the dark side of wealth, family, and privilege in The Wrong Kind of Money, brilliantly displaying his phenomenal storytelling skill along with his intimate knowledge of the lives of America’s aristocrats.

Sounded like it could be interesting. Published by Open Road Media, it’s out now.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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BrownE-J2-Jani&GreatPursuitEric Brown, JANI AND THE GREAT PURSUIT (Solaris)

Jani and her stalwart companions Lieutenant Alfie Littlebody and Anand Doshi find themselves chased from India, via Greece, to London by the British authorities, Russian spies and a Hindu priest – who all want what Jani carries, the ventha-di: the key that will open the door to other worlds.

In London she attempts to rescue the imprisoned alien Mahran – the only person who might help her save the Earth from the invasion of the merciless Zhell, the self-styled Masters of the Cosmos.

But will she escape London and reach Tibet before the forces of evil capture her – and before she is betrayed by someone she considers loyal to her cause?

This is the sequel to Jani and the Greater Game, which I also have and need to read. Looks really interesting. Published by Solaris in February 2016.

Also on CR: Interview with Eric Brown; Guest Post on Influences & Inspirations

Review copy received via NetGalley

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BurcellR-5-KillOrderRobin Burcell, THE KILL ORDER (Harper)

What you don’t know can kill you…

FBI Special Agent Sydney Fitzpatrick knows nothing about the Devil’s Key, except that her father was involved in its theft twenty years ago and was murdered as a result. The Devil’s Key, a list of seemingly random, supposedly indecipherable numbers, poses an immediate threat to national security — and anyone caught with this code in their possession is terminated with extreme prejudice. Sydney, unaware of the standing kill order, only just recovered the list and turned it over to her superiors—but not before making a copy.

What you do know can kill you…

Now the hard drive containing the list’s data has been compromised and two civilians are dead. But Sydney’s not the only one in danger. When a young woman with eidetic memory sees the numbers, Sydney and her partner, Zachary Griffin, must protect her — and what she knows — at all costs. For if the code falls into enemy hands, it could devastate the entire country’s infrastructure — and even ignite a world war.

This is the fifth novel in the author’s Sydney Fitzpatrick series — I picked up all that I could find on eBook. I was interested in the FBI/thriller aspect. The series is published by Harper.

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CainS-1-8thCircleSarah Cain, THE 8TH CIRCLE (Crooked Lane)

A year ago, Danny Ryan lost his wife and son in a car accident. He’s still reeling from the tragedy when Michael Cohen, his friend and fellow journalist, drives into the pond in front of his house with a bullet through his gut.

With Michael’s death ruled a murder, Danny must work to get his name crossed off the list of suspects, and that means digging into Michael’s last article, an expose of the twisted side of Philadelphia politics and nightlife. But powerful people are ready to kill to protect what Michael was about to uncover, and if Danny’s not careful, he’ll be next.

This caught my eye, when I was on the hunt for some political thrillers. Could be interesting — never read anything from this author or publisher, so will be nice to try. Published by Crooked Lane Books in January 2016.

Review copy received from publisher

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CarterM-AlmostInfamousMatt Carter, ALMOST INFAMOUS (Talos)

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Salt isn’t a superhero. With his powerful (and unpredictable) telekinetic abilities he could be one if he wanted to, but he doesn’t. He’s unambitious, selfish, and cowardly, and he doesn’t want to have to deal with all the paperwork required to become a professional superhero. But since the money, fame, and women that come with wearing the cape are appealing, he decides to become the first supervillain the world has seen in more than twenty years: Apex Strike.

However, he soon finds villainy in a world where the heroes have long since defeated all the supervillains. While half the world’s heroes seem to want him dead, the other half want to hire him as their own personal villain to keep them relevant. Choosing the latter course, Aidan enters a world of fame, fortune, and staged superhero fights that is seemingly everything he ever dreamed of… at least until he sees what truly hides behind the cape-and-mask lifestyle.

This could be fun. Published by Talos in April 2016.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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ClementsT-2-KingmakerBrokenFaithUKToby Clements, KINGMAKER: BROKEN FAITH (Century)

October, 1463

England is a divided nation. In the north, the Lancastrian king struggles to hold power, while in the south, the princes of the house of York prepare for war.

Across this land, pursued by the Church and the Law, a young man, Thomas, and a young woman, Catherine, make their way, bearing proof of a secret both sides will kill to learn.

Bent on revenge for a past outrage, Thomas and Catherine journey to the mighty castle of Bamburgh to join a weakening king as he marshals his army to take up arms in one of the most savage civil wars in history: the Wars of the Roses.

I need to read more historical fiction.

Review copy received from publisher

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Cobley-HF4-AncestralMachinesMichael Cobley, ANCESTRAL MACHINES (Orbit)

It was named Bringer of Battles, three hundred worlds orbiting a single artificial star, three hundred battlefields where different species vie for mastery and triumph. It is a cage where war is a game — brutal, savage and sudden. In this arena, all must bend the knee to the Lords of Permutation and the ancient sentient weapons with which they have merged. Or suffer indescribable agonies.

Trapped in this draconian crucible of death, Brannan Pyke, captain and smuggler, must fight his way to freedom.

Because in the Bringer of Battles, the game of war is played to the death and beyond.

The long-awaited fourth novel set in Cobley’s science fictional future. It is a stand-alone, though, so I don’t think it’ll be necessary to have read the first three. Which is handy, because I haven’t read them (yet)… Published by Orbit on January 12th, 2016.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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DowardJ-HostageUKJamie Doward, HOSTAGE (Constable)

Making a killing in the market…

A bomb takes out a CIA station chief in Geneva. A serial killer strikes apparently at random across the UK. In Algeria a terrorist network that controls the illicit trade in guns, drugs, oil and cigarettes is preparing to murder a hundred US and British energy workers unless a ransom is paid. The British and the American intelligence services are competing to find the kidnappers for very different reasons.

One person can see how everything is linked, and that both MI5 and the CIA are being manipulated as part of a grotesque marketing campaign. But Kate Pendragon threatens vested interests who don’t want the truth to surface. And some of them are very close to home…

I heard good things about Doward’s first novel, Toxic, so I requested this when it popped up on NetGalley. Published by Constable in January 2016.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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EbnerM-MovieGameMichael Ebner, MOVIE GAME (Pen & Picture)

It’s been three years since Joe’s father vanished. Now seventeen, he is unaware that government agents are watching him in case his dad makes contact. Joe is too distracted by his secret girlfriend, midnight swims in the pools of strangers, free drinks from his buddies at the movie game and the glamorous college student, Felicity.

But his movie-esque existence and addiction to fiction is set to collide with a heavy dose of reality this summer when he discovers everything is not what it seems: His secret girlfriend wants to be the real thing. His college fling may have ulterior motives. And the government agents want co-operation to catch his missing father. All this and the three year old death of Joe’s first girlfriend Alice are going to cause him to face some dark truths. It’s no longer a movie game. This is his life, and he wants to win.

I spotted this on NetGalley and thought it sounded like it might be interesting. Never heard of the publisher, though. Published by Pen & Picture, it’s out now.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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FespermanD-LetterWriterUSDan Fesperman, THE LETTER WRITER (Knopf)

February 1942: Woodrow Cain arrives in New York City from a small North Carolina town having left behind a wife (who’d abandoned him), a daughter, and a career as a police officer marred by questions about his possible complicity in his partner’s murder. A job in the NYPD gives him what he hopes will be a new beginning, and it’s on the job that he meets a man called Danzinger.

Dressed like a “strange old mystic,” Danzinger nonetheless has the manners of a man of means and education and speaks five languages. And he can help Cain identify the body just found floating in the Hudson River. But who exactly is Danzinger? A writer of letters for illiterate immigrants on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, he has seemingly boundless knowledge of the city and its denizens. And he seems to know much more than he’s telling Cain: not just about the identity of the dead man, but about the how and why of his death, and how it puts Cain — and perhaps his daughter and the woman he’s fallen in love with — in harm’s way.

But even Danzinger can’t see that the more he and Cain investigate, the nearer they are to the center of a web of corruption, abject cynicism, and possibly traitorous activities from which they may never be able to extricate themselves.

Fesperman is an author I’ve wanted to try for some time. Not sure why I haven’t yet. His previous novel, Unmanned, also looks pretty inserting. Due to be published by Knopf in North America in April, 2016.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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GaylinA-WhatRemainsOfMeUSAlison Gaylin, WHAT REMAINS OF ME (William Morrow)

Set in the glamorous, wealthy world of Hollywood — a darkly imaginative and atmospheric tale of revenge and betrayal, presumed guilt and innocence lost, dirty secrets and family ties…

Nobody’s perfect. Everybody’s got a drawer somewhere with something hidden in it.

On June 28, 1980 — the hottest night of the year — Kelly Michelle Lund shoots and kills Oscar-nominated director John McFadden at a party in his home… And instantly becomes a media sensation, her chilling smile fodder for national nightmares. For years, speculation swirls over the enigmatic seventeen-year-old’s motives, information she’s refused to share. Convicted of the murder, she loses her youth and her freedom — but keeps her secrets to herself.

Thirty years later — and five years after her release from prison — the past has come back to haunt Kelly. Her father-in-law, movie legend Sterling Marshall, is found in a pool of blood in his home in the Hollywood Hills — dead from a shot to the head, just like his old friend John McFadden.

Once again, Kelly is suspected of the high profile murder. But this time, she’s got some unexpected allies who believe she’s innocent — of both killings — and want to help her clear her name. But is she?

Sounds like a pretty solid thriller in Tinseltown. I’ll be reading it very soon. Published by William Morrow in February 2016.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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GoreS-GG4-WhiteGhostUSSteven Gore, WHITE GHOST (William Morrow)

For over thirty years Graham Gage has faced down enemies both near and far, but now he faces one from within.

Diagnosed with an aggressive cancer, Gage must delay treatment in order to repay the woman who saved his life in San Francisco’s Chinatown thirty years earlier when he was homicide detective. She has come out of hiding after her troubled teenage son was ensnared and killed in a multimillion dollar microchip robbery executed by the United Bamboo Triad.

With the FBI straight-jacketed and despite his plaguing symptoms, Gage heads to Hong Kong, then on to Thailand, and finally to China to untangle a fast moving and brilliantly orchestrated deal bartering the chips for a billion dollars of China White heroin. Racing ahead of the disease, he puts in place a scheme to tie the conspiracy directly to the US-based godfather behind her son’s death.

With his plan in place, Gage returns to the US, hands off the case to the FBI and begins a highly toxic treatment, but is soon drawn into a deadly confrontation with the godfather himself.

This is Gore’s fourth Graham Gage novel. I recently picked up the first three, too, after seeing this listed on Edelweiss. Nice that my request was approved! Will binge-read them, maybe. Due to be published in March 2016 by William Morrow in the US.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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GrahamI-1-MonumentIan Graham, MONUMENT (Orbit)

Ballas is a drunk and a vagrant. In his eyes there is only greed, and in his heart only bitterness. Such a man is not suited to legend, he is fit only for an unmarked grave. And there are people who seek to hasten his journey there.

When a young priest saves him from a beating in the street, Ballas soon finds a way to pay him back — he steals from him. 

What Ballas chooses to take can easily be hidden under a cloak, but it is no trinket to be sold in the market for a bowl of soup. It is known as the Monument. And the power it contains will bring a god of chaos and destruction into the world. Now Ballas has that power…

“Grimdark before grimdark was a thing,” this has been described as. So, I was intrigued — first time in eBook, and I thought I’d give it a try. It’s another fantasy standalone, so that made it even more interesting. Published by Orbit in the UK, it’s out now. Graham’s next novel, The Path of the Hawk, is due out in January 2016, and will be published in two parts.

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HuntS-MrSplitfootUKSamantha Hunt, MR. SPLITFOOT (Corsair)

Nat and Rose are young orphans, living in a crowded foster home run by an eccentric religious fanatic. When a traveling con-man comes knocking, they see their chance to escape and join him on the road, proclaiming they can channel the dead — for a price, of course…

Decades later, in a different time and place, Cora is too clever for her office job, too scared of her abysmal lover to cope with her unplanned pregnancy, and she too is looking for a way out. So when her mute Aunt Ruth pays her an unexpected visit, apparently on a mysterious mission, she decides to join her.

Together the two women set out on foot, on a strange and unforgettable odyssey across the state of New York. Where is Ruth taking them? Where has she been? And who — or what — has she hidden in the woods at the end of the road?

Sounded interesting and different. Published by Corsair in January 2016.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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Kowal-MR-ForestOfMemoryMary Robinette Kowal, FOREST OF MEMORIES (Tor.com)

Katya deals in Authenticities and Captures, trading on nostalgia for a past long gone. Her clients are rich and they demand items and experiences with only the finest verifiable provenance. Other people’s lives have value, after all.

But when her A.I. suddenly stops whispering in her ear she finds herself cut off from the grid and loses communication with the rest of the world.

The man who stepped out of the trees while hunting deer cut her off from the cloud, took her A.I. and made her his unwilling guest.

There are no Authenticities or Captures to prove Katya’s story of what happened in the forest. You’ll just have to believe her.

This sounds great, and it’ll be the first thing by Kowal that I will have read. Hopefully very soon. Published by Tor.com in March 2016.

Review copy received from publisher

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LansdaleJR-9-HonkyTonkSamuraiUSJoe R. Lansdale, HONKY TONK SAMURAI (Mulholland)

Only Hap and Leonard would catch a cold case with hot cars, hot women, and ugly skinheads.

The story starts simply enough when Hap, a former 60s activist and self-proclaimed white trash rebel, and Leonard, a tough black, gay Vietnam vet and Republican with an addiction to Dr. Pepper, are working a freelance surveillance job in East Texas. The uneventful stakeout is coming to an end when the pair witness a man abusing his dog. Leonard takes matters into his own fists, and now the bruised dog abuser wants to press charges.

One week later, a woman named Lilly Buckner drops by their new PI office with a proposition: find her missing granddaughter, or she’ll turn in a video of Leonard beating the dog abuser. The pair agrees to take on the cold case and soon discover that the used car dealership where her granddaughter worked is actually a front for a prostitution ring. The mystery of her disappearance only deepens from there.

I didn’t realize this was the ninth book in the series when I requested it. Nevertheless, Lansdale is an author whose work I’ve wanted to read for a very long time (no idea why I haven’t). This sounds pretty interesting. Published by Mulholland Books in February 2016.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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LoweH-3-DaughterOfBloodUSHelen Lowe, DAUGHTER OF BLOOD (Voyager)

Malian of Night and Kalan, her trusted ally, are returning to the Wall of Night — but already it may be too late. The Wall is dangerously weakened, the Nine Houses of the Derai fractured by rivalry and hate. And now, the Darkswarm is rising…

Among Grayharbor backstreets, an orphan boy falls foul of dark forces. On the Wall, a Daughter of Blood must be married off to the Earl of Night, a pawn in the web of her family’s ambition. On the Field of Blood, Kalan fights for a place in the bride’s honor guard, while Malian dodges deadly pursuers in a hunt against time for the fabled Shield of Heaven. But the Darkswarm is gaining strength, and time is running out — for Malian, for Kalan, and for all of Haarth…

The third volume in Lowe’s Gemmell Award-winning Wall of Night fantasy series. Published in the US by Harper Voyager, and in the UK by Orbit.

Also on CR: Interview with Helen Lowe; Group Guest Post “Should you write what you read?”; Review of The Heir of Night

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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MarrA-ChildrenOfTheMasterUKAndrew Marr, CHILDREN OF THE MASTER (Fourth Estate)

One doomed Prime Minister

Two would-be successors

But who’s pulling the strings?

The second novel from Britain’s foremost political commentator is a thrillingly intimate look at the inner workings of Whitehall, and who really controls party politics.

The Labour Party has unexpectedly won a narrow majority in the 2018 general election. But the new government is weak and divided, its unpopular leader embattled in the House of Commons. A group of eminent figures from the party’s past see an opportunity to re-establish their grip over its future by replacing the prime minister with a figurehead they can manipulate to their own ends. But who will they choose?

Two possible candidates emerge from the recent intake of MPs: David Petrie, a self-made Scot with a working-class background and a troubled personal history; and Caroline Phillips, a high-flying Londoner whose complicated private life could be either her greatest handicap, or her greatest asset.

Against a backdrop of intrigue and betrayal at the Palace of Westminster, both must struggle with the sacrifices and compromises they will have to make if they are to seize the greatest political prize of all.

I’ve been a fan of Marr’s journalism for a very long time. His debut novel, Head of State, I had mixed feelings about, but I thought it was interesting enough to try out his sophomore effort. Published by Fourth Estate, it’s out now.

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McCarryC-MulberryBushUSCharles McCarry, THE MULBERRY BUSH (Pub)

Personal vendetta and political idealism collide.

In a rose garden in Buenos Aires, an unnamed American spy meets the beautiful daughter of a famous Argentinean revolutionary. He becomes infatuated, and so does she. But he is no ordinary spy — he is an off-the-books lone wolf who spent his first five years at “Headquarters” hunting terrorists in the Middle East. Unbeknownst to his lenient handlers, he is loyal to a hidden agenda: to avenge his father, who was laughed out of Headquarters many years before and died a street person.

In the sultry young Argentinean, Luz, the spy thinks he has found an ally. Like his father, her parents also met a terrible fate. But as his life becomes further entwined with hers, the spy finds himself caught in a perilous web of passions, affiliations, and lies that spans three continents and stretches back to the Cold War.

It’s strange — I love spy movies, but I don’t read that much spy fiction. So, when I spotted this, I thought I’d give it a try. I’ve known about McCarry’s novels for a while, but never got around to trying his work. So, this book is serving double-duty. Published by Grove/Atlantic, it’s out now.

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NewmanP-1-VagrantPeter Newman, THE VAGRANT (Voyager)

The Vagrant is his name. He has no other.

Years have passed since humanity’s destruction emerged from the Breach.

Friendless and alone he walks across a desolate, war-torn landscape.

As each day passes the world tumbles further into depravity, bent and twisted by the new order, corrupted by the Usurper, the enemy, and his infernal horde.

His purpose is to reach the Shining City, last bastion of the human race, and deliver the only weapon that may make a difference in the ongoing war.

What little hope remains is dying. Abandoned by its leader, The Seven, and its heroes, The Seraph Knights, the last defences of a once great civilisation are crumbling into dust.

But the Shining City is far away and the world is a very dangerous place.

I’ve heard a lot of good things about this novel (mainly about a goat…), so I decided it was time to give it a try. Out now, published by Voyager in the UK.

Also on CR: Interview with Peter Newman

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ParkerKJ-DevilYouKnowK.J. Parker, THE DEVIL YOU KNOW (Tor.com)

The greatest philosopher of all time is offering to sell his soul to the Devil. All he wants is twenty more years to complete his life’s work. After that, he really doesn’t care.

But the assistant demon assigned to the case has his suspicions, because the philosopher is Saloninus – the greatest philosopher, yes, but also the greatest liar, trickster and cheat the world has yet known; the sort of man even the Father of Lies can’t trust.

He’s almost certainly up to something; but what?

A new Parker novella from Tor.com. Need we say more? Very much looking forward to reading this ASAP. Published in March 2016 by Tor.com.

Review copy received from publisher

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PolanskyD-ET2-ThoseBelowUKDaniel Polansky, THOSE BELOW (Hodder)

For centuries beyond counting, humanity has served the Others, god-like Eternals who rule from their cloud-capped mountain-city, building a civilization of unimagined beauty and unchecked viciousness.

But all that is about to change. Bas Alyates, grizzled general of a thousand battles, has assembled a vast army with which to contend with the might of Those Above. Eudokia, Machiavellian matriarch and the power behind the Empty Throne, travels to the Roost, nominally to play peacemaker — but in fact to inspire the human population toward revolt. Deep in the dark byways of the mountain’s lower tiers, the urchin Pyre leads a band of fanatical revolutionaries in acts of terrorism against their inhuman oppressors. Against them, Calla, handmaiden of the Eternals’ king, fights desperately to stave off the rising tide of violence which threatens to destroy her beloved city.

The sequel to Those Above, due to be published in the UK by Hodder, on March 10th, 2016. I haven’t read the first book, but I do have it — I think I now have a rather good excuse to binge-read them together.

Also on CR: Interview with Daniel Polansky; Reviews of Straight Razor CureTomorrow the Killing , She Who Waits and The Builders

Review copy received from publisher

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PowerSS-DragonRoundUSStephen S. Power, THE DRAGON ROUND (Simon & Schuster)

He only wanted justice. Instead he got revenge.

Jeryon has been the captain of the Comber for over a decade. He knows the rules. He follows the rules. He likes the rules. But not everyone on his ship agrees. When a monstrous dragon attacks the Comber, his surviving crew, vengeful and battle-worn, decide to take the ship for themselves and give Jeryon and his self-righteous apothecary “the captain’s chance:” a small boat with no rudder, no sails, and nothing but the shirts on their backs to survive.

Marooned and fighting for their lives against the elements, Jeryon and his companion discover that the island they’ve landed on isn’t quite as deserted as they originally thought. They find a rare baby dragon that, if trained, just might be their ticket off the island. But as Jeryon and the dragon grow closer, he begins to realize that even if he makes it off the island, his life will never be the same again. In order for justice to be served, he’ll have to take it for himself.

This is described as “For fans of Scott Lynch and Naomi Novik”, which certainly bodes well. It’s not out for quite some time, but nevertheless I’m intrigued enough that I may read this pretty soon. Published by Simon & Schuster in July 2016.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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PratchettT-ShakingHandsWithDeathTerry Pratchett, SHAKING HANDS WITH DEATH (Transworld)

Why we all deserve a life worth living and a death worth dying for

‘Most men don’t fear death. They fear those things – the knife, the shipwreck, the illness, the bomb – which precede, by microseconds if you’re lucky, and many years if you’re not, the moment of death.’

When Terry Pratchett was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in his fifties he was angry – not with death but with the disease that would take him there, and with the suffering disease can cause when we are not allowed to put an end to it. In this essay, broadcast to millions as the BBC Richard Dimblebly Lecture 2010 and previously only available as part of A Slip of the Keyboard, he argues for our right to choose – our right to a good life, and a good death too.

Published by Transworld. I’ve already read it, too — a great, short speech. Such a tragedy that he has passed away. If you’ve never read any Discworld, do yourself a favour, buy Guards! Guards! and never look back.

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RemicA-WWI1-ASongForNoMansLandAndy Remic, A SONG FOR NO MAN’S LAND (Tor.com)

He signed up to fight with visions of honour and glory, of fighting for king and country, of making his family proud at long last.

But on a battlefield during the Great War, Robert Jones is shot, and wonders how it all went so very wrong, and how things could possibly get any worse.

He’ll soon find out. When the attacking enemy starts to shapeshift into a nightmarish demonic force, Jones finds himself fighting an impossible war against an enemy that shouldn’t exist.

Remic’s first for Tor.com, it sounds very interesting. It’s the first in a series. I’ll be reading this very soon. It’s published in February 2016.

Also on CR: Interview with Andy Remic

Review copy received from publisher

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SawyerJ-LW1-ArtefactJamie Sawyer, LAZARUS WAR: ARTEFACT (Orbit)

Mankind has spread to the stars, only to become locked in warfare with an insidious alien race. All that stands against the alien menace are the soldiers of the Simulant Operation Programme, an elite military team remotely operating avatars in the most dangerous theatres of war.

Captain Conrad Harris has died hundreds of times — running suicide missions in simulant bodies. Known as Lazarus, he is a man addicted to death. So when a secret research station deep in alien territory suddenly goes dark, there is no other man who could possibly lead a rescue mission.

But Harris hasn’t been trained for what he’s about to find. And this time, he may not be coming back…

Artefact is an action-drenched tale of elite space marines, deep space exploration and galactic empires. Discover The Lazarus War — the thrilling new space opera series from one of the most exciting new voices in science fiction.

I’m really looking forward to reading this. I really feel like reading some sci-fi, after seeing Force Awakens. And, given how lukewarm I feel about Star Wars fiction, this should be perfect. Hopefully very soon. Out now in eBook, Artefact is published in print by Orbit in February 2016.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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SchwabV-MoV1-ThisSavageSongUSVictoria Schwab, THIS SAVAGE SONG (Greenwillow/Harper)

The city of Verity has been overrun with monsters, born from the worst of human evil. In North Verity, the Corsai and the Malchai run free. Under the rule of Callum Harker, the monsters kill any human who has not paid for protection. In the South, Henry Flynn hunts the monsters who cross the border into his territory, aided by the most dangerous and darkest monsters of them all — the Sunai, dark creatures who use music to steal their victim’s souls.

As one of only three Sunai in existence, August Flynn has always wanted to play a bigger role in the war between the north and the south. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate Harker, daughter of the leader of North Verity, August jumps on it.

When Kate discovers August’s secret, the pair find themselves running for their lives and battling monsters from both sides of the wall. As the city dissolves into chaos, it’s up to them to foster a peace between monsters and humans.

This is the first novel in Schwab’s new Monsters of Verity series. I’m really looking forward to reading it. Published by Greenwillow Books in the US in June 2016; and due to be published in the UK by Titan Books, also in June 2016.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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SilverC-BenningtonGirlsAreEasyCharlotte Silver, BENNINGTON GIRLS ARE EASY (Pub)

Bennington College, founded in 1932 as a suitable refuge for the wayward daughters of good families, maintains its saucy reputation for attracting free spirits. There, acres outnumber students, the faculty is composed of fading hippie and clothing is largely optional. Or, as J. D. Salinger put it in Franny and Zooey: a Bennington-type “looked like she’d spent the whole train ride in the john, sculpting or painting or something, or as though she had a leotard on under her dress.”

Cassandra Puffin and Sylvie Furst met in high school but cement what they ardently believe will be everlasting friendship on Bennington’s idyllic Vermont campus. Graduation sees Sylvie moving to New York City, where, later on their twenties, Cassandra joins her. These early, delirious years are spent decorating their Fort Greene apartment with flea market gems, dating “artists”, and trying to figure out what they’re doing with their lives.

The girls are acutely and caustically observant of the unique rhythms of the city but tone deaf to their own imperfections, which eventually drives a wedge between them. Equal parts heartfelt and hilarious, Bennington Girls Are Easy is a novel about female friendships — how with one word from a confidante can lift you up or tear you down — and how difficult it is to balance someone else’s devastatingly funny lapses in judgment with your own professional and personal missteps.

This has received a lot of interesting attention, so I thought I’d give it a try. Published by Doubleday in Canada.

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SmaillA-ChimesUKPBAnna Smaill, THE CHIMES (Sceptre)

A mind-expanding literary debut composed of memory, music and imagination.

A boy stands on the roadside on his way to London, alone in the rain.

No memories, beyond what he can hold in his hands at any given moment.

No directions, as written words have long since been forbidden.

No parents – just a melody that tugs at him, a thread to follow. A song that says if he can just get to the capital, he may find some answers about what happened to them.

The world around Simon sings, each movement a pulse of rhythm, each object weaving its own melody, music ringing in every drop of air.

Welcome to the world of The Chimes. Here, life is orchestrated by a vast musical instrument that renders people unable to form new memories. The past is a mystery, each new day feels the same as the last, and beforeis blasphony.

But slowly, inexplicably, Simon is beginning to remember. He emerges from sleep each morning with a pricking feeling, and sense there is something he urgently has to do. In the city Simon meets Lucien, who has a gift for hearing, some secrets of his own, and a theory about the danger lurking in Simon’s past.

This sounds pretty intriguing and different from my usual reading material. Published in the UK in paperback by Sceptre Books, on January 14th, 2016.

Review copy received from publisher

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SmithAFE-1-DarkhavenUKA.F.E. Smith, DARKHAVEN (Voyager)

Ayla Nightshade never wanted to rule Darkhaven.

Yet her half-brother Myrren hasn’t inherited the family’s ability to shapeshift, so their father, Florentyn, forces Ayla to take over as heir to the throne.

When Ayla is accused of Florentyn’s brutal murder only Myrren believes her innocent and aids her escape. A fugitive from her own guard, Ayla must now fight to clear her name if she is ever to wear the crown she never wanted and be allowed to return to the home she has always loved.

But does something more sinister than the power to shapeshift lie at the heart of the Nightshade family line?

I recently saw the cover for the sequel unveiled, and I rather liked it. This made me seek out Darkhaven, to see what I’d been missing. Published by Voyager in the UK. The sequel, Goldenfire, is due out in January.

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SteinJ-WestOfEdenUSJean Stein, WEST OF EDEN (Random House)

In West of Eden, Stein turns to Los Angeles, the city of her childhood. Stein vividly captures a mythic cast of characters: their ambitions and triumphs as well as their desolation and grief.

These stories illuminate the bold aspirations of five larger-than-life individuals and their families. West of Eden is a work of history both grand in scale and intimate in detail. At the center of each family is a dreamer who finds fortune and strife in Southern California: Edward Doheny, the Wisconsin-born oil tycoon whose corruption destroyed the reputation of a U.S. president and led to his own son’s violent death; Jack Warner, the son of Polish-Jewish immigrants, who together with his brothers founded one of the world’s most iconic film studios; Jane Garland, the troubled daughter of an aspiring actress who could never escape her mother’s schemes; Jennifer Jones, an actress from Oklahoma who won the Academy Award at twenty-five but struggled with despair amid her fame and glamour. Finally, Stein chronicles the ascent of her own father, Jules Stein, an eye doctor born in Indiana who transformed Hollywood with the creation of an unrivaled agency and studio.

In each chapter, Stein paints a portrait of an outsider who pins his or her hopes on the nascent power and promise of Los Angeles. Each individual’s unyielding intensity pushes loved ones, especially children, toward a perilous threshold. West of Eden depicts the city that has projected its own image of America onto the world, in all its idealism and paradox. As she did in Edie, Jean Stein weaves together the personal recollections of an array of individuals to create an astonishing tapestry of a place like no other.

This sounds fascinating. I’ll be reading it very soon. Maybe next, I’m not sure. Due to be published by Random House on February 9th, 2016.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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SullivanT-OccupyMeUKTricia Sullivan, OCCUPY ME (Gollancz)

A woman with wings that exist in another dimension. A man trapped in his own body by a killer. A briefcase that is a door to hell. A conspiracy that reaches beyond our world. Breathtaking SF from a Clarke Award-winning author.

Tricia Sullivan has written an extraordinary, genre defining novel that begins with the mystery of a woman who barely knows herself and ends with a discovery that transcends space and time. On the way we follow our heroine as she attempts to track down a killer in the body of another man, and the man who has been taken over, his will trapped inside the mind of the being that has taken him over.

And at the centre of it all a briefcase that contains countless possible realities.

I haven’t read anything by Tricia Sullivan before, but the synopsis for this novel really caught my eye. I decided to start reading it on the day it arrived, and have since finished it. It was an interesting, if muddled and strange read. Sadly, it didn’t fully click for me, but it was a little reminiscent of Claire North’s fiction — in terms of ideas, etc. I’m sure a lot of people will enjoy it, it just didn’t work as well for me as I’d hoped.

Review copy received from publisher

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ThomasMM-FixersUSMichael M. Thomas, FIXERS (Melville House)

For anyone who’s wondered why the money men who caused the 2008 banking crisis ended up running U.S. economic policy, a novel that seems too true to be fiction…

On a winter’s night in 2007, a well-heeled “cultural consultant” named Chauncey Suydam gets a call from the head of the world’s most powerful investment bank, who says a financial crisis is brewing, but he has a plan to insulate Wall Street from the fallout — and keep people such as himself out of jail.

His mission for Chauncey is simple: to help funnel millions of dollars to a certain presidential candidate preaching hope and change, in exchange for a few Wall Street-friendly names in the resultant administration.

Yet as Chauncey wends his way amongst the nation’s political elite, he sees with greater clarity than ever how decisions really get made — on Wall Street and in Washington. And as the magnitude of the fix he’s perpetrating begins to sink in, he starts to have second thoughts… But is it too late?

At once shocking and all too plausible, Fixers is a riveting political thriller by a master observer of finance and politics that — despite being fiction — offers a frighteningly reasonable explanation of what really might have happened in 2008.

I do like some good Wall Street/political fiction. This one caught my eye a little while ago. Looking forward to giving it a try. Published by Melville House in January 2016.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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TrojanowI-LamentationsOfZenoIlia Trojanow, THE LAMENTATIONS OF ZENO (Verso)

A literary fiction about climate disaster and a scientist imploding on a journey to the Antarctic

German glacier expert Zeno Hintermeier is taking his last voyage to the Antarctic as a lecturer on board an international cruise ship. He attends to the curiosity of a privileged few as they marvel at the least explored continent and pay witness to its rapid degradation. In his early sixties, Zeno mourns the loss of his beloved glaciers, the disintegration of his loveless marriage, and the crumbling of his increasingly irrelevant career.

Increasingly desperate he hatches a horrifying plan, and driven to the brink, he is convinced that his only option is to shake his fellow passengers out of their complacency and send a wake-up call to the world. With poignant, playful prose, The Lamentations of Zeno is a portrait of a man in extremis, a haunting tale that looks at the greatest challenge of our age from a uniquely human angle.

This sounded pretty interesting. I haven’t read much fiction related to climate change. Published by Verso in May 2016.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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ValenteCM-RadianceUKCatherynne M. Valente, RADIANCE (Corsair)

Radiance is a decopunk pulp SF alt-history space opera mystery set in a Hollywood, and solar system, very different from our own…

Severin Unck is the headstrong young daughter of a world famous film director. She has inherited her father’s love of the big screen but not his exuberant gothic style of filmmaking. Instead, Severin makes documentaries, artful and passionate and even rather brave — for she is a realist in a fantastic alternate universe, in which Hollywood occupies the moon, Mars is rife with lawless saloons, and the solar system contains all manner of creatures, cults and colonies.

For Severin’s latest project she leads her crew to the watery planet of Venus to investigate the disappearance of a diving colony there. But something goes wrong during the course of their investigations; and her crew limp home without her.

All that remains of Severin are fragments. Can these snippets of scenes and shots, voices and memories, pages and recordings be collected and pieced together to tell the story of her life — and shed light on the mystery of her vanishing?

Clever, dreamy, strange and beautifully written — Radiance is a novel about how stories give form to worlds.

Comment. Published in March 2016 by Corsair in the UK.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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WaltonJ-P2-PhilosopherKingsUKJo Walton, THE PHILOSOPHER KINGS (Corsair)

Twenty years have passed since the goddess Athene founded the Just City.

The god Apollo is still living there, albeit in human form. Now married and the father of several children, the man/god struggles to cope when tragedy befalls his family. On the surface he handles his feelings in his stride; but it’s evident that deep down he is unhinged with raw, human grief.

Fuelled by a bloodthirsty desire for revenge, Pythias sets sail for the mysterious Eastern Mediterranean to find the man he believes may have caused him such great pain.

What his expedition actually discovers, however, will change everything.

Comment. Published in the UK by Corsair, mid-January 2016.

Review copy received from publisher

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YoungH-1-GatesOfEvangelineUKHester Young, THE GATES OF EVANGELINE (Arrow)

When grieving mother and New York journalist Charlie Cates begins to experience vivid dreams about children after her only son passes away, she’s sure that she’s lost her mind. Yet she soon realizes these are not the hallucinations of a bereaved mother. They are messages and warnings that will help Charlie and the children she sees—if she can make sense of them.

The disturbing images lead her from her home in suburban New York City to small-town Louisiana, where she takes a commission to write a true-crime book based on the case of Gabriel Deveau, the young heir to a wealthy and infamous Southern family, whose kidnapping thirty years ago has never been solved. There she meets the Deveau family, none of whom are telling the full truth about the night Gabriel disappeared. And as she uncovers long-buried secrets of love, money, betrayal, and murder, the facts begin to implicate those she most wants to trust — and her visions reveal an evil closer than she could have imagined.

An interesting-sounding crime debut. Published on January 14th, 2016, in the UK.

Review copy received from publisher

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