New Books (Jan)

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A post-Christmas and New Year smorgasbord of awesome has come flooding in, these past couple of weeks. On top of that, there have been some I’ve bought myself (I got a lot of wonderful book vouchers and Amazon credit, this year…).

Featuring: Tim Akers, Robert Jackson Bennett, Rob Boffard, Terry Brooks, Lindsey Davis, Liz de Jager, Christopher Farnsworth, Matt Gallagher, Carol Goodman, Thomas Christopher Greene, Louisa Hall, Glen Erik Hamilton, Joanne Harris, Kristopher Jansma, Richard Kadrey, Mike Lawson, Tim Lebbon, Patrick Lee, Jill Lepore, Sean McFate & Bret Witter, China Miéville, Megan Miranda, Simon Morden, Anthony O’Neill, Adam O’Fallon Price, Camille Perri, Heidi Pitlor, Matthew Quirk, Richard Russo, Lawrence M. Schoen, A.F.E. Smith, Christopher Sorrentino, Gav Thorpe, Lavie Tidhar, Glen Weldon, Jonathan Wood

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AkersT-1-PaganNightTim Akers, THE PAGAN NIGHT (Titan)

Ruling with an iron hand, the Church has eliminated the ancient pagan ways. Yet demonic gheists terrorize the land, hunted by the Inquisition, while age-old hatreds rage between the north and the south. Three heroes — Malcolm and Ian Blakeley and Gwendolyn Adair — must end the bloodshed before chaos is unleashed.

The first book in a new fantasy series from Akers, The Hallowed War. It looks pretty interesting, too. Hopefully read this in the near future. I like how angry that fella on the cover looks, too. (A silly reason to be interested in a novel, but there we go.)

Review copy received from publisher

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BennettRJ-2-CityOfBladesUKRobert Jackson Bennett, CITY OF BLADES (Jo Fletcher Books)

Do the dead sleep soundly in the land of death, or do they have plans of their own?

A generation ago, the city of Voortyashtan was the stronghold of the god of war and death, the birthplace of fearsome supernatural sentinels who killed and subjugated millions. Now the city’s god is dead and the city itself lies in ruins. And to its new military occupiers, the once-powerful capital is just a wasteland of sectarian violence and bloody uprisings.

So it makes perfect sense that General Turyin Mulaghesh — foul-mouthed hero of the battle of Bulikov, rumoured war criminal, ally of an embattled Prime Minister — has been exiled there to count down the days until she can draw her pension and be forgotten. At least, it makes the perfect cover-story.

The truth is that the general has been pressed into service one last time, dispatched to investigate a discovery with the potential to change the world — or destroy it.

I received an ARC from Bennett’s US publisher, Crown, a little while back. I thought I’d feature the UK edition, though, because it has a blurb on the front cover from my review of City of Stairs. So yes, I’m a little bit happy about that. A great series, and a must-read of the year. City of Blades is out now in the UK, published by Jo Fletcher Books.

Also on CR: Interview with Robert Jackson Bennett (2012); Excerpt from City of Stairs; Guest Posts on “Should You Write What You Read?” and City of Stairs and the Super Tropey Fantasy Checklist”; Reviews of City of Stairs and The Company Man

Review copy received from publisher

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BoffardR-2-ZeroGRob Boffard, ZERO-G (Orbit)

Outer Earth is a giant space station, orbiting the dead remains of our planet. It is humanity’s last refuge.

Riley Hale may be the newest member of the station’s law enforcement team, but she feels less in control than ever. When a doctor bent on revenge blackmails her, Riley has no choice but to give in to his demands and break a dangerous prisoner out of jail. But this is not just any prisoner — it’s someone capable of bringing the entire space station to its knees.

With time running out, Riley must break her own beliefs – and every law she’s sworn to protect – if she has any hope of saving Outer Earth from destruction.

This is the follow-up to Boffard’s fast-paced sci-fi thriller Tracer. I’m quite looking forward to reading it. Due to be published by Orbit in the UK (January 21st) and US (January 19th in eBook; July 26th in paperback).

Also on CR: Interview with Rob Boffard; Review of Tracer

Review copy received from publisher

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BrooksT-S1-ElfstonesTVTerry Brooks, THE ELFSTONES OF SHANNARA (Orbit)

Thousands of years after the destruction of the age of man and science, new races and magic now rule the world, but an imminent danger threatens. A horde of evil Demons is beginning to escape and bring death upon the land. Only Wil Ohmsford, the last of the Shannara bloodline, has the power to guard the Elven Princess Amberle on a perilous quest to the save the world, while the leader of the Demon force aims to stop their mission at any cost.

I read Elfstones of Shannara and Sword of Shannara (book one) decades ago. When I was very young, and not particularly interested in fantasy fiction. I do, however, remember being sucked into the story at times. I’ll have to give this another read. And, which this new edition and the new TV series, what better excuse do I need? This edition published in the UK by Orbit on February 4th, 2016. The novel is published in the US by Del Rey.

Review copy received from publisher

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DavisL-FA4-GraveyardsOfHerperidesUKHCLindsey Davis, THE GRAVEYARD OF HESPERIDES (Hodder & Stoughton)

From renowned author Lindsey Davis, creator of the much-loved character, Marcus Didius Falco and his friends and family, comes the fourth novel in her all-new series set in ancient Rome.

We first met Flavia Albia, Falco’s feisty adopted daughter, in The Ides of April. Albia is a remarkable woman in what is very much a man’s world: young, widowed and fiercely independent, she lives alone on the Aventine Hill in Rome and makes a good living as a hired investigator. An outsider in more ways than one, Albia has unique insight into life in ancient Rome, and she puts it to good use going places no man could go, and asking questions no man could ask.

I don’t remember a time when our household didn’t have Lindsey Davis novels… They’re a must for fans of historical fiction in general, but especially for those with an interest in Roman times. This is the fourth novel in Davis’s next-gen Rome series, following the daughter of her original creation. Due to be published in the UK by Hodder, on April 14th, 2016.

Review copy received from publisher

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deJagerL-3-JudgedUKLiz de Jager, JUDGED (Tor)

Kit’s job description includes solving crimes — the supernatural kind…

Glow, a fae-created drug, is rapidly going viral and the suppliers have to be shut down. Teaming up with Aiden and Dante, Kit follows leads across London, tracking down dealers. They stir up trouble, making themselves a target for the gang they’re trying to stop.

In the Otherwhere, Thorn stumbles across a secret that could destroy both the human and Fae worlds. The Veil that separates our human world from the fae realms is weakening and the goddess is dying. And if she dies and the Veil fails, madness and chaos will wreak unstoppable havoc upon both lands.

Thorn turns to the only person he knows who’ll be able to help him: Kit. Torn between working the Glow case and her loyalty for the young prince, Kit is propelled headlong into a world of danger. She faces enemies from both the Otherwhere and our world. And as the stakes are raised, the consequence of failure for both Kit and Thorn, and two realms, could be devastating.

The third book in de Jager’s Blackhart Legacy series, following Banished and Vowed. Published in the UK by Tor, yesterday. I should really get caught up with this series…

Review copy received from publisher

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FarnsworthC-KillfileUSChristopher Farnsworth, KILLFILE (William Morrow)

John Smith has a special gift that seems more like a curse: he can access other peoples thoughts. He hears the the songs stuck in their heads, their most private traumas and fears, the painful memories they can’t let go. The CIA honed his skills until he was one of their most powerful operatives, but Smith fled the Agency and now works as a private consultant, trying to keep the dark potentials of his gift in check — and himself out of trouble.

But now Smith is unexpectedly plunged into dangerous waters when his latest client, billionaire software genius Everett Sloan, hires him to investigate a former employee — a tech whiz kid named Eli Preston — and search his thoughts for some very valuable intellectual property he’s stolen. Before John can probe Preston’s mind, his identity is compromised and he’s on a run for his life with Preston’s young associate, Kelsey.

Hunted by shadowy enemies with deep resources and unknown motives, John and Kelsey must go off the grid. John knows their only hope for survival is using his powers to their fullest — even if means putting his own sanity at risk.

Latest thriller from Farnsworth, author of the President’s Vampire series. Published by William Morrow in August 2016. Trippy cover…

Also on CR: Interview with Christopher Farnsworth; Reviews of Blood Oath and The President’s Vampire

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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GallagherM-YoungBloodCAMatt Gallagher, YOUNG BLOOD (Simon & Schuster)

Jarhead meets Redeployment in a suspenseful and smart fiction debut…

The US military is preparing to withdraw from Iraq, and newly-minted lieutenant Jack Porter struggles to accept how it’s happening — through alliances with warlords who have Arab and American blood on their hands. Day after day, Jack tries to assert his leadership in the sweltering, dreary atmosphere of Ashuriyah. But his world is disrupted by the arrival of veteran Sergeant Daniel Chambers, whose aggressive style threatens to undermine the fragile peace that the troops have worked hard to establish.

As Iraq plunges back into chaos and bloodshed and Chambers’s influence over the men grows stronger, Jack becomes obsessed with a strange, tragic tale of reckless love between a lost American soldier and Rana, a local sheikh’s daughter. In search of the truth and buoyed by the knowledge that what he finds may implicate Sergeant Chambers, Jack seeks answers from the enigmatic Rana, and soon their fates become intertwined. Determined to secure a better future for Rana and a legitimate and lasting peace for her country, Jack will defy American command, putting his own future in grave peril.

Pulling readers into the captivating immediacy of a conflict that can shift from drudgery to devastation at any moment, Youngblood provides startling new dimension to both the moral complexity of war and its psychological toll.

Despite (perhaps because of) the amount of research I did into the George W. Bush administration and the origins and conduct of the Iraq War, I’ve never read any fiction connected to it — save for some thrillers that are more about “terrorism in the Middle East”, as opposed to explicitly linked with the Iraq conflict. This sounded really good, though, and they offered me an ARC. So I’ll be reading it hopefully very soon. Published in February 2016, by Simon & Schuster.

Review copy received from publisher

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GoodmanC-RiverRoadUKCarol Goodman, RIVER ROAD (Titan)

Nan Lewis, a creative writing professor at a state university in upstate New York, is driving home from a faculty holiday party, upset because she’s just learned that she has been denied tenure, when she hits a deer. She walks into the woods but can’t find the animal and makes her way back home in a snowstorm, leaving her car at the bottom of her snowed-out driveway. It is the winter solstice, the longest night of the year, and the low point of Nan’s life.

The next morning, a police officer comes to the door and tells Nan that one of her students, Leia Dawson, has been killed in a hit-and-run on River Road. Because of the damage to her car, Nan is suspected of killing Leia. In the coming days, as local opinion focuses on Nan as the chief suspect, Nan finds herself reviled by the same community that rallied around her when her daughter was killed in a similar hit-and-run accident six years ago.

She begins receiving little “tokens” that make Nan believe the two accidents might be connected. And as she investigates further, she starts to learn that the people around her, including Leia Dawson, are hiding secrets she’ll have to uncover to clear her name and find out who really killed Leia…

This sounds like an interesting thriller. Published by Titan Books in the UK next week (January 19th).

Review copy received from publisher

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GreeneTC-IfIForgetYouUSThomas Christopher Greene, IF I FORGET YOU (St. Martin’s Press)

Twenty-one years after they were driven apart by circumstances beyond their control, two former lovers have a chance encounter on a Manhattan street. What follows is a tense, suspenseful exploration of the many facets of enduring love. Told from altering points of view through time, If I Forget You tells the story of Henry Gold, a poet whose rise from poverty embodies the American dream, and Margot Fuller, the daughter of a prominent, wealthy family, and their unlikely, star-crossed love affair, complete with the secrets they carry when they find each other for the second time.

Written in lyrical prose, If I Forget You is at once a great love story, a novel of marriage, manners, and family, a meditation on the nature of art, a moving elegy to what it means to love and to lose, and how the choices we make can change our lives forever.

Greene’s The Headmaster’s Wife was a sleeper-hit when it was published last year. I picked it up, but for some reason it was left forgotten on my Kindle. I was approved for an eARC of If I Forget You, and started reading it one day on a whim. It’s very good — I love the way Greene writes (his prose flows so wonderfully). The novel isn’t perfect, but it was a quick, engaging and enjoyable read, populated by interesting characters and understated emotion. I’ll be reading The Headmaster’s Wife very soon, too. If I Forget You is published by St. Martin’s Press in North America, in June 2016.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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HallL-SpeakUKLouisa Hall, SPEAK (Orbit)

She cannot run. She cannot walk. She cannot even blink. As her batteries run down for the final time, all she can do is speak. Will you listen?

From a pilgrim girl’s diary, to a traumatised child talking to a software program; from Alan Turing’s conviction in the 1950s, to a genius imprisoned in 2040 for creating illegally lifelike dolls: all these lives have shaped and changed a single artificial intelligence — MARY3. In Speak she tells you their story, and her own. It is the last story she will ever tell, spoken both in celebration and in warning.

When machines learn to speak, who decides what it means to be human?

I read this months ago, when it was published in Canada. It is a very enjoyable novel. I’d recommend it.

Also on CR: Review of Speak

Review copy received from publisher

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HamiltonGE-VS2-HardColdWinterUSGlen Erik Hamilton, HARD COLD WINTER (William Morrow)

Former Army Ranger and thief Van Shaw is thrust into danger as lethal and unpredictable as the war he left behind in this emotionally powerful and gritty follow up to the acclaimed Past Crimes.

When an old crony of Van Shaw’s late grandfather calls in a favor, the recently-discharged Ranger embarks on a dangerous journey to the Olympic Mountains, in search of a missing girl tied to Van’s own criminal past. What he finds instead is a brutal murder scene, including a victim from one of Seattle’s most influential families.

But the dead bodies are only the start of Van’s troubles. A fellow Ranger from Afghanistan turns up at Van’s doorstep, seeking support from his former sergeant even as Van wrestles with his own reemerging symptoms of PTSD. The murder investigation leads to heavy pressure, with a billionaire businessman on one side and vicious gangsters on the other, each willing to play dirty to get what they want.

The price of his survival may be too high, demanding moral compromises that could destroy Van’s relationship with his iron-willed girlfriend, Luce. And when a trusted friend’s betrayal pushes him to the edge, Van has to enlist help from some unexpected places — including someone he believed was lost forever.

The Ranger will need every ally he can get. A powerful, unseen player is about to unleash a firestorm on Seattle that will burn Van and his people to ashes — and it will take a miracle to stop it.

Sequel to Past Crimes, the first novel in the Van Shaw crime series. Really looking forward to reading them both (I’ve fallen behind a bit on thrillers, recently). Published by William Morrow in March 2016.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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HarrisJ-DifferentClassUKJoanne Harris, DIFFERENT CLASS (Transworld)

After thirty years at St Oswald’s Grammar in North Yorkshire, Latin master Roy Straitley has seen all kinds of boys come and go. Each class has its clowns, its rebels, its underdogs, its ‘Brodie’ boys who, whilst of course he doesn’t have favourites, hold a special place in an old teacher’s heart. But every so often there’s a boy who doesn’t fit the mould. A troublemaker. A boy with hidden shadows inside.

With insolvency and academic failure looming, a new broom has arrived at the venerable school, bringing Powerpoint, sharp suits and even sixth form girls to the dusty corridors. But while Straitley does his sardonic best to resist this march to the future, a shadow from his past is stirring. A boy who even twenty years on haunts his teacher’s dreams. A boy capable of bad things.

Didn’t realize Harris had another novel coming out. (Well, ok, yes — logically, it was obvious that she did, but I was unaware of what it might be about, and who might be publishing it.) This sounds pretty interesting. Due to be published by Transworld Books in the UK, on April 21st, 2016.

Also on CR: Review of The Gospel of Loki

Review copy received via NetGalley

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JansmaK-WeCameToTheCityUSKristopher Jansma, WHY WE CAME TO THE CITY (Viking)

A warm, funny, and heartfelt novel about a tight-knit group of twentysomethings in New York whose lives are upended by tragedy.

December, 2008. A heavy snowstorm is blowing through Manhattan and the economy is on the brink of collapse, but none of that matters to a handful of guests at a posh holiday party. Five years after their college graduation, the fiercely devoted friends at the heart of this richly absorbing novel remain as inseparable as ever: editor and social butterfly Sara Sherman, her troubled astronomer boyfriend George Murphy, loudmouth poet Jacob Blaumann, classics major turned investment banker William Cho, and Irene Richmond, an enchanting artist with an inscrutable past.

Amid cheerful revelry and free-flowing champagne, the friends toast themselves and the new year ahead — a year that holds many surprises in store. They must navigate ever-shifting relationships with the city and with one another, determined to push onward in pursuit of their precarious dreams. And when a devastating blow brings their momentum to a halt, the group is forced to reexamine their aspirations and chart new paths through unexpected losses.

In Why We Came to the City, Jansma offers an unforgettable exploration of friendships forged in the fires of ambition, passion, hope, and love. This glittering story of a generation coming of age is a sweeping, poignant triumph.

I have Jansma’s previous novel, The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards, but it got lost in the mix during my peripatetic 2012-3. This new novel sounds great, and I hope to read it ASAP. Published by Viking on February 16th, 2016.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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RickmanA-ReflectionSurprise

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KadreyR-EverythingBoxUSRichard Kadrey, THE EVERYTHING BOX (Voyager)

A dark and humorous story involving a doomsday gizmo, a horde of baddies determined to possess its power, and a clever thief who must steal it back… again and again.

22000 B.C. A beautiful, ambitious angel stands on a mountaintop, surveying the world and its little inhabitants below. He smiles because soon, the last of humanity who survived the great flood will meet its end, too. And he should know. He’s going to play a big part in it. Our angel usually doesn’t get to do field work, and if he does well, he’s certain he’ll get a big promotion.

And now it’s time…

The angel reaches into his pocket for the instrument of humanity’s doom. Must be in the other pocket. Then he frantically begins to pat himself down. Dejected, he realizes he has lost the object. Looking over the Earth at all that could have been, the majestic angel utters a single word.

“Crap.”

2015. A thief named Coop — a specialist in purloining magic objects — steals and delivers a small box to the mysterious client who engaged his services. Coop doesn’t know that his latest job could be the end of him — and the rest of the world. Suddenly he finds himself in the company of The Department of Peculiar Science, a fearsome enforcement agency that polices the odd and strange. The box isn’t just a supernatural heirloom with quaint powers, they tell him.

It’s a doomsday device. They think…

And suddenly, everyone is out to get it.

Taking a break from his excellent Sandman Slim series, The Everything Box, sounds like it could be a lot of fun. Humorous novels are frequently a bust for me (it’s difficult to get the comedy right), but I’m confident Kadrey has the skills to write something superb. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed everything else he’s written, after all. Due to be published by Voyager in the US, in April 2016.

Also on CR: Reviews of Sandman Slim, Kill the Dead, Aloha From Hell, Devil in the Dollhouse, Devil Said Bang and Kill City Blues

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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LawsonM-HouseRevengeUSMike Lawson, HOUSE REVENGE (Grove/Atlantic)

Congressional fixer Joe DeMarco is dispatched to Boston, his boss Congressman John Mahoney’s hometown. Mahoney wants him to help Elinore Dobbs, an elderly woman holding out against a real estate developer intent on tearing down her apartment building for a massive new development. Mahoney is just in it for the free press until Sean Callahan, the developer, disrespects him and, even worse, Elinore suffers a horrible “accident,” likely at the hands of two thugs on Callahan’s payroll.

Now Mahoney and DeMarco are out for revenge. DeMarco tries to dig up dirt through Callahan’s former mentor, and one of his ex-wives. But it’s only when DeMarco gets a tip on the likely illegal source of some of Callahan’s financing that things get deadly. 

A fast-paced adventure into the cutthroat world behind the wrecking ball, House Revenge is another gripping tale of collusion and corruption from a beloved political thriller writer.

Long-time readers of CR will know that I am a big fan of Lawson’s novels. Can’t wait to read House Revenge, the eleventh book in the Joe DeMarco series. Due to be published in North America by Grove/Atlantic, in July 2016.

Also on CR: Interview with Mark Lawson (2011); Reviews of Dead on Arrival, House Secrets, House Justice, House Divided, House Blood, House Reckoning and House Rivals

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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LebbonT-PiecesOfHateTim Lebbon, PIECES OF HATE (Tor.com)

During the Dark Ages, a thing named Temple slaughtered Gabriel’s family. A man with snake eyes charged him to pursue the assassin wherever he may strike next, and destroy him. Gabriel never believed he’d still be following Temple almost a thousand years later.

Because Temple may be a demon, the man with snake eyes cursed Gabriel with a life long enough to hunt him down. Now he has picked up Temple’s scent again. The Caribbean sea is awash with pirate blood, and in such turmoil the outcome of any fight is far from certain.

Free bonus novelette:

Dead Man’s Hand

In the wilderness of the American West, the assassin is set to strike again. Despite his centuries-long curse, Gabriel is still but a man, scarred and bitter. The town of Deadwood has seen many such men… though it’s never seen anything quite like the half-demon known as Temple.

This sounds pretty interesting. Will read it soon. Published by Tor.com on March 15th, 2016.

Review copy received from publisher

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LeeP-SD2-SignalUSPatrick Lee, SIGNAL (Minotaur)

Sam Dryden lives quietly in a small coastal town in southern California, buying and fixing up old houses. It’s good physical work that he’s come to love. But his peaceful life is shattered when he gets a phone call from an old friend in trouble. A phone call that pulls Dryden into the middle of a situation that’s as violent as it is baffling.

For FBI agent Marnie Calvert, it all begins at a secluded trailer in the Mojave Desert-the scene of a horrifying crime, but also of an impossible and mysterious act of heroism. At least, it should have been impossible. Determined to learn the truth, what Calvert discovers leads her to Sam Dryden-an ex-Special Forces operative whose ordinary life has suddenly become anything but.

Through their actions, Dryden and Calvert have unknowingly placed themselves in the cross-hairs of a frightening and dangerous enemy, the result of a generations-long conspiracy finally coming to fruition. What these people have is a technology that allows them to affect events before they even happen. How they are planning to use it, however, will result in the death of millions. To defeat them, Dryden will need to do more than think fast-he’ll need to think around corners, and face down an enemy that can seize on his mistakes before he even makes them.

The sequel to Runner. I kept seeing it in bookstores in Toronto, prominently displayed. I eventually took the universal hint, and picked up them both. Published by Minotaur Books.

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LeporeJ-JoeGouldsTeethUSJill Lepore, JOE GOULD’S TEETH (Knopf)

The story of the discovery of Joe Gould’s long-lost manuscript, “The Oral History of Our Time,” and of the violence, betrayals, and madness that led to its concealment.

When Joseph Mitchell published his profile of Joseph Gould in the December 1942 issue of The New Yorker, he deemed Gould’s purportedly masterful but rarely seen Oral History project, which allegedly consisted of nine million words detailing everything anyone ever said to him, “the longest unpublished work in existence.”

But Mitchell, in fact, hadn’t read more than a few pages of the Oral History. The manuscript seemed to have gone missing, along with other of Gould’s possessions–his hair, his sight, his teeth–as he began to sink deeper into poverty, drink, and destitution. And as Gould neared the end of his life, lying pathologically, begging for money from friends and strangers alike, and deflecting publishers’ requests to read his work, Mitchell couldn’t help but wonder: Had the Oral History ever existed? After Gould’s death in 1957, Mitchell wrote a second profile in which he insisted that it did not. Was Mitchell wrong?

Joe Gould’s Teeth is a literary investigation of this enigmatic figure of the early twentieth century, who, despite doubts surrounding his sanity, captured the imaginations of the most prominent writers and artists of the time. Renowned master of historical storytelling Jill Lepore carefully unravels the riddle of Joe Gould and his missing manuscript, probing deeply into our collective self-conscious, the nature of art, and how we define our reality for the future. Complete with appearances from the likes of E. E. Cummings, Ezra Pound, and Augusta Savage and set against the backdrop of inter-war and post-war New York’s glamour and grime, Joe Gould’s Teeth is not only the portrait of one man’s mind, but also a profound meditation on the limits of how well one ever knows another person.

Jill Lepore is one of my favourite authors and historians. Her pieces for the New Yorker are always fantastic, and the books of hers that I’ve read have so far been superb. (The Story of America, a collection of updated articles from the New Yorker is particularly excellent, and perhaps most relevant for readers of CR.) After the success of Lepore’s magnificent previous book, The Secret History of Wonder Woman, she returns with Joe Gould’s Teeth, which sounds quite different but no less interesting. Published by Knopf in the US, on May 17th, 2016.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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McFateWitter-TL1-ShadowWarUSSean McFate & Bret Witter, SHADOW WAR (William Morrow)

An elite American mercenary on a secret mission to save a businessman’s family in Eastern Europe must navigate perilous setbacks and deadly enemies that threaten to tip the balance of power between Russia and the United States.

Tom Locke is an elite warrior working for Apollo Outcomes, one of the world’s most successful private contracting firms. Pulled out of a mission in Libya, he is tapped for an unusual and risky assignment: a top secret black op in Ukraine. He is given one week to rescue an oligarch’s family and pull off a spectacular assault that could have long-lasting repercussions for this imperiled Eastern European nation and the world.

What Locke doesn’t know is that the operation comes with a dangerous complication: Brad Winters. Locke’s ambitious and enigmatic boss is engaged in a secretive, high-stakes geopolitical chess game with several influential powerbrokers in capitals around the world. One misstep could cost him — and Locke — everything.

While Locke has methodically planned the mission and hand-picked a team of trusted operatives to pull it off — and save his ass if things go south — he doesn’t count on running into a former love, war correspondent Alie MacFarlane, who impulsively makes a move that risks both their lives. Locke is an intelligent, iconoclastic soldier who specializes in pulling off the impossible. But all his brilliant preparation can’t prevent the kind of backstabbing and deception that could lead to catastrophe… and tip the balance of power toward Putin’s Russia.

This is the first novel in a new series, pitched at fans of Brad Thor, Daniel Silva and Tom Clancy. Which means it should suit my tastes, too. (I’m assuming readers of Vince Flynn, Kyle Mills, etc., will also enjoy.) Political-techno-international thriller — great stuff. Will read soon. Due to be published by William Morrow in May 2016.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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MievilleC-ThisCensusTakerUSChina Miéville, THIS CENSUS-TAKER (Del Rey)

In a remote house on a hilltop, a lonely boy witnesses a profoundly traumatic event. He tries — and fails — to flee. Left alone with his increasingly deranged parent, he dreams of safety, of joining the other children in the town below, of escape.

When at last a stranger knocks at his door, the boy senses that his days of isolation might be over.

But by what authority does this man keep the meticulous records he carries? What is the purpose behind his questions? Is he friend? Enemy? Or something else altogether?

Filled with beauty, terror, and strangeness, This Census-Taker is a poignant and riveting exploration of memory and identity.

It’s a long time since I read anything by Miéville. This sounds pretty interesting, and as a novella should be a relatively quick read. Out now, published by Del Rey.

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MirandaM-AllTheMissingGirlsMegan Miranda, ALL THE MISSING GIRLS (Simon & Schuster)

A nail-biting, breathtaking story about the disappearances of two young women — a decade apart — told in reverse.

It’s been ten years since Nicolette Farrell left her rural hometown after her best friend, Corinne, disappeared from Cooley Ridge without a trace. Back again to tie up loose ends and care for her ailing father, Nic is soon plunged into a shocking drama that reawakens Corinne’s case and breaks open old wounds long since stitched.

The decade-old investigation focused on Nic, her brother Daniel, boyfriend Tyler, and Corinne’s boyfriend Jackson. Since then, only Nic has left Cooley Ridge. Daniel and his wife, Laura, are expecting a baby; Jackson works at the town bar; and Tyler is dating Annaleise Carter, Nic’s younger neighbor and the group’s alibi the night Corinne disappeared. Then, within days of Nic’s return, Annaleise goes missing.

Told backwards — Day 15 to Day 1 — from the time Annaleise goes missing, Nic works to unravel the truth about her younger neighbor’s disappearance, revealing shocking truths about her friends, her family, and what really happened to Corinne that night ten years ago.

Like nothing you’ve ever read before, All the Missing Girls delivers in all the right ways. With twists and turns that lead down dark alleys and dead ends, you may think you’re walking a familiar path, but then Megan Miranda turns it all upside down and inside out and leaves us wondering just how far we would be willing to go to protect those we love.

The premise sounded interesting, as did the idea of telling the story backwards. Hopefully get to it very soon. Published by Simon & Schuster in June 2016.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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MordenS-DownStationUKSimon Morden, DOWN STATION (Gollancz)

A small group of commuters and tube workers witness a fiery apocalypse overtaking London. They make their escape through a service tunnel. Reaching a door they step through… and find themselves on a wild shore backed by cliffs and rolling grassland. The way back is blocked. Making their way inland they meet a man dressed in a wolf’s cloak and with wolves by his side. He speaks English and has heard of a place called London — other people have arrived here down the ages — all escaping from a London that is burning. None of them have returned. Except one — who travels between the two worlds at will. The group begin a quest to find this one survivor; the one who holds the key to their return and to the safety of London.

And as they travel this world, meeting mythical and legendary creatures,split between North and South by a mighty river and bordered by The White City and The Crystal Palace they realise they are in a world defined by all the London’s there have ever been.

This sounds really interesting. Published in the UK by Gollancz, on February 18th, 2016.

Review copy received from publisher

*

ONeillA-DarkSideUSAnthony O’Neill, THE DARK SIDE (Simon & Schuster)

In this dark and gripping sci-fi noir, an exiled police detective arrives at a lunar penal colony just as a psychotic android begins a murderous odyssey across the far side of the moon.

Purgatory is the lawless moon colony of eccentric billionaire, Fletcher Brass: a mecca for war criminals, murderers, sex fiends, and adventurous tourists. You can’t find better drugs, cheaper plastic surgery, or a more ominous travel advisory anywhere in the universe. But trouble is brewing in Brass’s black-market heaven. When an exiled cop arrives in this wild new frontier, he immediately finds himself investigating a string of ruthless assassinations in which Brass himself — and his equally ambitious daughter — are the chief suspects.

Meanwhile, two-thousand kilometers away, an amnesiac android, Leonardo Black, rampages across the lunar surface. Programmed with only the notorious “Brass Code” — a compendium of corporate laws that would make Ayn Rand blush — Black has only one goal in mind: to find Purgatory and conquer it.

Visual, visceral, and tons of fun, The Dark Side fuses hard science with brutal crime and lunar adventure. It’s an intense, stylish, and action-packed thriller with a body count to match.

This looked really good, so I’m very happy I was auto-approved for it. Will read ASAP. Published by Simon & Schuster in June 2016.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

*

OFallonPriceA-GrandTourUSAdam O’Fallon Price, THE GRAND TOUR (Doubleday)

A bitingly funny, smart and moving road novel about two hapless lost souls — an alcoholic Vietnam veteran turned bestselling author, and his awkward, shy college student superfan — who form an unlikely connection on the world’s most disastrous book tour.

Richard Lazar is advancing in years but regressing in life. After a career as a literary novelist that has ground to a halt and landed him in a trailer in Phoenix, Richard is surprised to find sudden success publishing a gritty memoir about his service in Vietnam. Sent on a book tour by his publishing house, Richard encounters his biggest (and really only) fan: an awkward, despondent student named Vance with issues of his own (an absentee father, a depressive mother, his own acute shyness). Soon Vance has volunteered to chauffeur Richard for the rest of the book tour, and the two embark on a disastrous but often hilarious cross-country trip. When things go wrong, Richard and Vance forge an unlikely bond between two misanthropes whose mutual insecurities and disdain for the world force both to look at each other, and their lives, in a more meaningful way.

As they reach the end of the book tour, The Grand Tour ultimately becomes a moving tale of unlikely friendship.

This looks different and interesting. Due to be published by Doubleday, in August 2016.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

*

PerriC-AssistantsUKCamille Perri, THE ASSISTANTS (Transworld)

What would you do if you thought you’d get away with it?

‘I folded the cheque and shoved it deep into the black hole darkness of my bag. At the time it seemed innocent enough. I would just, you know, bring the cheque home and then tear it to shreds.’

For six years Tina has served drinks and collected dry-cleaning for a boss who spends more on lunch than Tina does on rent, and her debts are piling up. Then a blip in the expenses system offers her the opportunity to change her life, a big fat cheque that shouldn’t have her name on it. She’s a good person but the temptation is too much and Tina’s moral compass temporarily malfunctions.

But with wealth comes trouble. It doesn’t take long for one of Tina’s fellow assistants to notice – and she wants in. Tina may have an unlimited expense account but is she about to discover the limit to her luck?

I first spotted this on Perri’s American publisher’s Edelweiss page, and have been intrigued ever since. Then I spotted it on NetGalley from Perri’s UK publisher, and I requested away. It sounds like fun. The Assistants is due to be published in the UK by Corgi/Transworld on April 21st, 2016; and in the US by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, on May 3rd, 2016.

Review copy received via NetGalley

*

PitlorH-DaylightMarriageUSPBHeidi Pitlor, DAYLIGHT MARRIAGE (Algonquin Books)

She still had time before work. She could go food shopping. She could fold the kids’ laundry and get the car washed and return some library books. Or Hannah could do something else. She could do something that she had never done – drive to a part of town where she had never been, pretend to be someone that she was not.

Hannah was tall and graceful, naturally pretty, spirited and impulsive, the upper-class young woman who picked, of all men, Lovell – the introverted climate scientist who thought he could change the world if he could just get everyone to listen to reason. After a magical honeymoon, they settled in the suburbs to raise their two children.

But over the years, Lovell and Hannah’s conversations have become charged with resentments and unspoken desires. She has become withdrawn. His work affords him a convenient distraction. And then, after one explosive argument, Hannah vanishes.

For the first time, Lovell is forced to examine the trajectory of his marriage through the lens of memory. As he tries to piece together what happened to his wife – and to their life together – readers follow Hannah on that single day when a hasty decision proves irrevocable.

With haunting intensity, a seamless balance of wit and heartbreak, and the emotional acuity that author Heidi Pitlor brings to every page, The Daylight Marriage mines the dark and delicate nature of a marriage.

Sounds like it could be a very good thriller. Published by Algonquin Books in May 2016.

Review copy received via NetGalley

*

QuirkM-ColdBarrelZeroUSMatthew Quirk, COLD BARREL ZERO (Mulholland)

A code hidden in plain sight. An American black Ops team that went too far. 

John Hayes is a Special Operations legend who went rogue on a deep-cover mission and betrayed his own soldiers. Disgraced and on the run, he returns to the United States to get back to his wife and daughter and take revenge on his accusers with a series of devastating attacks.

Only one man can stop him: Thomas Byrne. He once fought alongside Hayes as a combat medic, but he gave up the gun. Now a surgeon, he moves from town to town, trying to forget his past, until he is called upon by a high-ranking government official to help capture the man he once called a friend.

Hayes and Byrne were once as close as brothers, but with the fate of the nation hanging in the balance and nothing as it seems, both men must decide whom to trust — and whom to betray. In a final, explosive battle for justice, they face off along a rifle’s cold barrel.

I’ve had mixed experience with Quirk’s fiction. I read his debut, The 500, in one sitting; but the follow-up, The Directive, was a little disappointing (if no less quickly-paced). Cold Barrel Zero features a new protagonist, and I have high hopes for it. Published in North America by Mulholland Books on March 29th, 2016. I’ll have it read before it hits shelves.

Also on CR: Reviews of The 500 and The Directive

Review copy received via NetGalley

*

RussoR-EverybodysFool2016Richard Russo, EVERYBODY’S FOOL (Knopf)

A best-selling and beloved author, at the very top of his game, now returns to North Bath, in upstate New York, and the characters who made Nobody’s Fool, his third novel, his first great success.

The irresistible Sully, who in the intervening years has come by some unexpected good fortune, is now staring down a VA cardiologist’s estimate that he only has a year or two left, and he’s busy as hell keeping the news from the most important people in his life: Ruth, the married woman he carried on with for years… the ultra-hapless Rub Squeers, who worries that he and Sully aren’t still best friends… Sully’s son and grandson, for whom he was mostly an absentee figure… Doug Raymer, now chief of police and still obsessing over the identity of the man his wife might have been having an affair with before she died in a freak accident… North Bath’s mayor, the former academic Gus Moynihan, who also has a pressing wife problem… and then there’s Carl Roebuck, whose lifelong run of failing upwards might now come to ruin.

Everybody’s Fool is filled with humor, heart, hard times, and characters whom you can’t help but love for all their faults. It is classic Russo – and a crowning achievement from one of the greatest storytellers of our time.

I’ve only read one of Russo’s novels (the excellent Straight Man) and one short story. I recently picked up Empire Falls and Nobody’s Fool, so I was pretty pleased when I spotted that Everybody’s Fool was on the way. I’ll read the two Sully/Fool novels together, I think. It’s due to be published by Knopf in May 2016.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

*

SchoenLM-BarskLawrence M. Schoen, BARSK: THE ELEPHANT’S GRAVEYARD (Tor)

A moving science fiction novel set so far in the future, humanity is gone and forgotten…

An historian who speaks with the dead is ensnared by the past. A child who feels no pain and who should not exist sees the future. Between them are truths that will shake worlds.

In a distant future, no remnants of human beings remain, but their successors thrive throughout the galaxy. These are the offspring of humanity’s genius-animals uplifted into walking, talking, sentient beings. The Fant are one such species: anthropomorphic elephants ostracized by other races, and long ago exiled to the rainy ghetto world of Barsk. There, they develop medicines upon which all species now depend. The most coveted of these drugs is koph, which allows a small number of users to interact with the recently deceased and learn their secrets.

To break the Fant’s control of koph, an offworld shadow group attempts to force the Fant to surrender their knowledge. Jorl, a Fant Speaker with the dead, is compelled to question his deceased best friend, who years ago mysteriously committed suicide. In so doing, Jorl unearths a secret the powers that be would prefer to keep buried forever. Meanwhile, his dead friend’s son, a physically challenged young Fant named Pizlo, is driven by disturbing visions to take his first unsteady steps toward an uncertain future.

This is one of my most-anticipated novels of the year, so I’m very happy it arrived. Published by Tor Books, it’s out now.

Also on CR: Interview with Lawrence M. Schoen

Review copy received from publisher

*

SmithAFE-2-GoldenfireUKA.F.E. Smith, GOLDENFIRE (Voyager)

In Darkhaven, peace doesn’t last long.

Ayla Nightshade has ruled Darkhaven for three years since the tragedy that tore her family apart. She has left her father’s cruel legacy behind and become a leader her people can believe in – or so she hopes.

Tomas Caraway is no longer a disgraced drunk; he’s Captain of the Helm and the partner of the most powerful woman in Darkhaven. He will do everything to protect Ayla and their adopted son against all possible threats.

But a discovery has been made that could have profound consequences for the Nightshade family. There is a weapon so deadly, it can kill even the powerful creatures they turn into. And now, that weapon has fallen into the wrong hands.

An assassin is coming for Ayla, and will stop at nothing to see her dead.

The sequel to Darkhaven. Published in the UK by Voyager, yesterday. I think this series sounds really interesting. I’ll try to read the two novels back-to-back at some point in the near future. Not sure how I managed to miss Darkhaven when it first came out. Weird.

Review copy received via NetGalley

*

SorrentinoC-FugitivesUSChristopher Sorrentino, THE FUGITIVES (Simon & Schuster)

Sandy Mulligan is in trouble. To escape his turbulent private life and the scandal that’s maimed his public reputation, he’s retreated from Brooklyn to the quiet Michigan town where he hopes to finish his long-overdue novel. There, he becomes fascinated by John Salteau, a native Ojibway storyteller who regularly appears at the local library.

But Salteau is not what he appears to be — a fact suspected by Kat Danhoff, an ambitious Chicago reporter of elusive ethnic origins who arrives to investigate a theft from a nearby Indian-run casino. Salteau’s possible role in the crime could be the key to the biggest story of her stalled career. Bored, emotionally careless, and sexually reckless, Kat’s sudden appearance in town immediately attracts a restive Sandy.

As the novel weaves among these characters uncovering the conflicts and contradictions between their stories, we learn that all three are fugitives of one kind or another, harboring secrets that threaten to overturn their invented lives and the stories they tell to spin them into being. In their growing involvement, each becomes a pawn in the others’ games — all of them just one mistake from losing everything.

The signature Sorrentino touches that captivated readers of Trance are all here: sparkling dialogue, narrative urgency, mordant wit, and inventive, crystalline prose — but it is the deeply imagined interior lives of its characters that set this novel apart. Moving, funny, tense, and mysterious, The Fugitives is at once a love story, a ghost story, and a crime thriller. It is also a cautionary tale of twenty-first century American life — a meditation on the meaning of identity, on the role storytelling plays in our understanding of ourselves and each other, and on the difficulty of making genuine connections in a world that’s connected in almost every way.

I can’t remember on which website I saw this first featured, but it caught my attention. Due to be published by Simon & Schuster in February 2016.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

*

ThorpeG-HH-RavenlordGav Thorpe, RAVENLORD (Black Library)

As the Horus Heresy grinds on, Corax and the remnants of his once mighty Legion now wage an entirely different kind of war – liberating worlds oppressed by traitor forces, they gather more and more followers to their banner, disrupting the Warmaster’s influence wherever they can. But after an unexpected reunion with a fellow survivor of Isstvan V, the Raven Guard learn of the prison colony of Carandiru and soon realise that they must face the ghosts of their past on Deliverance yet again if they are to prevail.

Thorpe’s latest Horus Heresy novella focused on the Raven Guard. I’ve really enjoyed his others, so I decided to pick this up. (Strangely, it is one of the cheapest formerly-limited edition novellas that BL have released of late.) As it turned out, it was pretty good, too. Review soonish. Out now, published by Black Library.

Also on CR: Interview with Gav Thorpe (2011); Review of Deliverance Lost

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Tidhar-CentralStationLavie Tidhar, CENTRAL STATION (Tachyon)

A worldwide diaspora has left a quarter of a million people at the foot of a space station. Cultures collide in real life and virtual reality. The city is a weed, its growth left unchecked. Life is cheap and data is cheaper.

When Boris Chong returns to Tel Aviv from Mars, much has changed. Boris’s ex-lover Miriam is raising a strangely familiar child who can tap into the data stream of a mind with the touch of a finger. His cousin Isobel is infatuated with a robotnik — a cyborg ex-Israeli soldier who might well be begging for parts. Even his old flame Carmel — a hunted data-vampire — has followed him back to a planet where she is forbidden to return.

Rising above all is Central Station, the interplanetary hub between all things: the constantly shifting Tel Aviv; a powerful virtual arena, and the space colonies where humanity has gone to escape the ravages of poverty and war. Everything is connected by the Others, powerful entities who, through the Conversation — a shifting, flowing stream of consciousness — are just the beginning of irrevocable change.

A series of strung-together novellas and short stories, I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time. Published by Tachyon in May 2016.

Also on CR: Review of The Violent Century

Review copy received via NetGalley

*

WeldonG-CapedCrusadeGlen Weldon, THE CAPED CRUSADE: BATMAN AND THE RISE OF NERD CULTURE (Simon & Schuster)

A witty, intelligent cultural history from NPR book critic Glen Weldon explains Batman’s rises and falls throughout the ages — and what his story tells us about ourselves.

Since his creation, Batman has been many things: a two-fisted detective; a planet-hopping gadabout; a campy Pop-art sensation; a pointy-eared master spy; and a grim and gritty ninja of the urban night. For more than three quarters of a century, he has cycled from a figure of darkness to one of lightness and back again; he’s a bat-shaped Rorschach inkblot who takes on the various meanings our changing culture projects onto him. How we perceive Batman’s character, whether he’s delivering dire threats in a raspy Christian Bale growl or trading blithely homoerotic double-entendres with partner Robin on the comics page, speaks to who we are and how we wish to be seen by the world. It’s this endlessly mutable quality that has made him so enduring.

And it’s Batman’s fundamental nerdiness — his gadgets, his obsession, his oath, even his lack of superpowers — that uniquely resonates with his fans who feel a fiercely protective love for the character. Today, fueled by the internet, that breed of passion for elements of popular culture is everywhere. Which is what makes Batman the perfect lens through which to understand geek culture, its current popularity, and social significance.

In The Caped Crusade, with humor and insight, Glen Weldon, book critic for NPR and author of Superman: The Unauthorized Biography, lays out Batman’s seventy-eight-year cultural history and shows how he has helped make us who we are today and why his legacy remains so strong.

This could be interesting. Or terrible. Nevertheless, given my interest in fandom (as well as what people, including myself, are fans of), I thought this looked promising. Published by Simon & Schuster in June 2016.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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WoodJ-BrokenHeroJonathan Wood, BROKEN HERO (Titan)

Arthur Wallace and the MI37 team confront their complex personal relationships as well as robots originally created to aid the Nazi’s invasion of Russia, leading to a trip for the team to the Himalayas, which takes them to a Nepalese death cult, then back to London for the final assault – amidst assorted relationship break-ups, hangovers and pregnancy scares…

The fourth book in Wood’s Hero series, all of which are published by Titan Books in the UK: No Hero, Yesterday’s Hero, and Anti-HeroBroken Hero is published on January 26th, 2016.

Also on CR: Interview with Jonathan Wood; Guest Posts on “Living with the Consequences…”, “Videogames and Storytelling” and “Writing in the Devastating Wake of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Review copy received from publisher

*

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