New Books (March)

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Featuring: Daniel Abraham, Jason Arnopp, Stephen Aryan, Madeline Ashby, Adrian Barnes, Terry Brooks, Steve Cavanagh, Catherine Cerveny, Curtis C. Chen, Jennifer Close, Brenda Cooper, John DeCure, Christopher Fowler, Neil Gaiman, Deena Goldstone, Jack Grimwood, Aidan Harte, Nathan Hill, L.S. Hilton, Roger Hobbs, Trevor Hoyle, Richard A. Knaak, Spencer Kope, Giles Kristian, Robert Kroese, Jason LaPier, Glenda Larke, James Lovegrove, Drew Magary, Gail Z. Martin, Malka Older, Melissa F. Olson, Stephanie Saulter, Jon Skovron, Sam Sykes, Laura van Den Berg, Dan Vyleta, David Wingrove, Ben H. Winters, John Wray

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AbrahamD-D&G5-SpidersWarDaniel Abraham, THE SPIDER’S WAR (Orbit)

The epic conclusion to The Dagger and The Coin series…

Lord Regent Geder Palliako’s great war has spilled across the world, nation after nation falling before the ancient priesthood and weapon of dragons. But even as conquest follows conquest, the final victory retreats before him like a mirage. Schism and revolt begin to erode the foundations of the empire, and the great conquest threatens to collapse into a permanent conflict of all against all.

In Carse, with armies on all borders, Cithrin bel Sarcour, Marcus Wester, and Clara Kalliam are faced with the impossible task of bringing a lasting peace to the world. Their tools: traitors high in the imperial army, the last survivor of the dragon empire, and a financial scheme that is either a revolution or the greatest fraud in the history of the world.

The final novel in Abraham’s latest critically-acclaimed fantasy series. I’ve read the first novel, but for some reason got distracted and waylaid before reading the rest… Ryan Frye has been reviewing the series for CR, though, so we should have more coverage in the not-too-distant future. Published by Orbit Books in the US (Mar.8) and UK (Mar.10).

Also on CR: Interview with Daniel Abraham (2012); Reviews of Shadow & BetrayalSeasons of WarThe Dragon’s PathThe King’s BloodThe Tyrant’s Law

Review copy received from publisher

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ArnoppJ-LastDaysOfJackSparksUKJason Arnopp, THE LAST DAYS OF JACK SPARKS (Orbit)

Jack Sparks died while writing this book.

It was no secret that journalist Jack Sparks had been researching the occult for his new book. No stranger to controversy, he’d already triggered a furious Twitter storm by mocking an exorcism he witnessed. 

Then there was that video: forty seconds of chilling footage that Jack repeatedly claimed was not of his making, yet was posted from his own YouTube account.

Nobody knew what happened to Jack in the days that followed — until now.

I bought this only a couple of days before I received an eARC from the publisher, but I’m not even a little bit sorry about that — The Last Days of Jack Sparks has been on my Most Anticipated list for so long. The Last Days of Jack Sparks is published by Orbit in the US now as an eBook, and will be available in print in September. It is out now in eBook and print in the UK, also published by Orbit.

Review copy received from publisher

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AryanS-2-BloodmageStephen Aryan, BLOODMAGE (Orbit)

The people of Perizzi have survived the battlemage war, but their future is looking darker than ever.

BYRNE is a member of the Watch, investigating a series of murders in which the corpse was drained entirely of life.

FRAY’s expertise with magic is needed to catch the killer, but working with the Watch destroyed his father, years before.

CHOSS is a champion fighter, trying to diffuse a war in the underworld that threatens to turn the streets red with rivers of blood.

KATJA is a spy from a foreign land, attempting to prevent a massacre that will topple two dynasties and destroy the fragile peace in the city for ever.

Watchmen and spies, assassins and criminals will clash on the streets in this magic-fuelled adventure from the author of Battlemage.

The sequel to Battlemage, this series has been receiving some pretty solid reviews. I should give it a read. Published in the US and UK by Orbit, in mid-April 2016.

Review copy received from publisher

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AshbyM-CompanyTownMadeline Ashby, COMPANY TOWN (Tor)

Meet Hwa. One of the few in her community to forego bio-engineered enhancements, she’s the last truly organic person left on the rig. But she’s an expert in the arts of self-defence, and she’s been charged with training the Family’s youngest, who has been receiving death threats – seemingly from another timeline.

Meanwhile, a series of interconnected murders threatens the city’s stability – serial killer? Or something much, much worse…?

It feels like this novel was announced a long time ago, only to slip quietly into the darkness for a little while. Then I saw it on NetGalley, and I got rather excited again. Sounds great. Published by Tor Books in North America on May 17th, 2016.

Also on CR: Interview with Madeline Ashby (2012); Guest Post on “How Do You Make Non-Humans Seem human?”

Review copy received via NetGalley

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BarnesA-NodAdrian Barnes, NOD (Titan)

Dawn breaks over Vancouver and no-one in the world has slept the night before, or almost no-one. A few people, perhaps one in ten thousand can still sleep, and they’ve all shared the same golden dream. A handful of children still sleep as well, but what they’re dreaming remains a mystery. After six days of absolute sleep deprivation, psychosis will set in. After four weeks, the body will die. In the interim, panic ensues and a bizarre new world arises in which those previously on the fringes of society take the lead. One couple experience a lifetime in a week as he continues to sleep, she begins to disintegrate before him, and the new world swallows the old one whole…

I first heard of this novel at the 2012 Clarke Awards event, for which it was shortlisted (it didn’t win). I decided to read this on my first trip to Vancouver. It… was pretty good. Barnes writes great prose. But, ultimately, I thought the novel was a little too long — a strange issue to have, when you consider that it’s not even 300 pages long. I just felt that the author made his point, and then the story kind of dragged… Published by Titan Books.

Review copy received from publisher

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BrooksT-DoS-DarklingChildUKTerry Brooks, THE DARKLING CHILD (Orbit)

New powers are awakening. A legend is born…

In a distant corner of the Four Lands, the mysterious magic of the wishsong has been detected. Paxon Leah, sworn protector of the Druid order and heir of the enchanted Sword of Leah, must travel to uncover its source — and ensure that this formidable power is not wielded by the wrong hands.

But danger lies in wait, and in a fearsome clash between mortal might and dark magic, it is up to Paxon, as the High Druid’s Blade, to defend the people of the Four Lands against a terrifying evil.

I really should re-read the Shannara novels — I’ve read I think the first three? But I did so when I was very young, and I can’t honestly say I was paying much attention… I’m also really interested in giving the TV series a try.

Review copy received from publisher

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CavanaghS-1-DefenceUKPBSteve Cavanagh, THE DEFENCE (Orion)

Eddie Flynn used to be a con artist. Then he became a lawyer. Turned out the two weren’t that different.

It’s been over a year since Eddie vowed never to set foot in a courtroom again. But now he doesn’t have a choice. Olek Volchek, the infamous head of the Russian mafia in New York, has strapped a bomb to Eddie’s back and kidnapped his ten-year-old daughter, Amy. Eddie only has forty-eight hours to defend Volchek in an impossible murder trial — and win — if he wants to save his daughter.

Under the scrutiny of the media and the FBI, Eddie must use his razor-sharp wit and every con-artist trick in the book to defend his ‘client’ and ensure Amy’s safety. With the timer on his back ticking away, can Eddie convince the jury of the impossible?

I don’t know why, but I put off buying this for a long time. I’ve heard such good things about it, though, that I finally just bought it. Just before my Kindle died… So, I had to wait to read it again. I also pre-ordered the second novel in the series, The Plea, which is due out in May 2016. The Defence is published by Orion in the UK, and is due to be published in North America by Flatiron Books, in May 2016.

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CervenyC-1-RuleOfLuckUSCatherine Cerveny, THE RULE OF LUCK (Redhook)

A whirlwind thriller romance in a futuristic setting that will tug at your heartstrings while sending you on high-speed chases alongside a genetically-enhanced (and incredibly handsome…) criminal mastermind.

As a famed tarot card reader, all is well in luck and love for Felicia Sevigny, until Russian crime leader Alexei Petriv walks into her shop and demands a reading. 

Petriv’s future looks dark and full of danger, which wouldn’t be Felicia’s problem, except that it’s also aligned with hers. Felicia discovers she is the key pawn in Petriv’s plot to overthrow the all-knowing government, and she must decide if she will trust with him with her heart, body and soul, before the future of the entire human race collapses around her.

This is a little outside my usual reading taste, but I thought it might be interesting to give it a try. Out now, published by Redhook as an eBook.

Review copy received from publisher

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ChenCC-WaypointKangarooCurtis C. Chen, WAYPOINT KANGAROO (Thomas Dunne Books)

Kangaroo isn’t your typical spy. Sure, he has extensive agency training, access to bleeding-edge technology, and a ready supply of clever (to him) quips and retorts. But what sets him apart is “the pocket.” It’s a portal that opens into an empty, seemingly infinite, parallel universe, and Kangaroo is the only person in the world who can use it. But he’s pretty sure the agency only keeps him around to exploit his superpower.

After he bungles yet another mission, Kangaroo gets sent away on a mandatory “vacation:” an interplanetary cruise to Mars. While he tries to make the most of his exile, two passengers are found dead, and Kangaroo has to risk blowing his cover. It turns out he isn’t the only spy on the ship – and he’s just starting to unravel a massive conspiracy which threatens the entire Solar System.

Now, Kangaroo has to stop a disaster which would shatter the delicate peace that’s existed between Earth and Mars ever since the brutal Martian Independence War. A new interplanetary conflict would be devastating for both sides. Millions of lives are at stake.

Weren’t vacations supposed to be relaxing?

This sounded weird and potentially really interesting. Chen has apparently studied under John Scalzi and Ursula le Guin, which are certainly good credentials. Due to be published by Thomas Dunne Books in June 2016.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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CloseJ-HopefulsUSJennifer Close, THE HOPEFULS (Knopf)

The story of a young wife who follows her husband and his political dreams to D.C., a city of idealism, gossip, and complicated friendships among young Washington’s aspiring elite.

When Beth arrives in Washington, D.C., she hates everything about it: the confusing traffic circles, the ubiquitous Ann Taylor suits, the humidity that descends each summer. At dinner parties, guests compare their security clearance levels. They leave their BlackBerrys on the table. They speak in acronyms. And once they realize Beth doesn’t work in politics, they smile blandly and turn away.

Soon Beth and her husband, Matt, meet a charismatic White House staffer named Jimmy and his wife, Ashleigh, and the four become inseparable, coordinating brunch, birthdays, and long weekends away.

But as Jimmy’s star rises higher and higher, their friendship — and Beth’s relationship with Matt — is threatened by jealousy, competition and rumors.

I thought this sounded potentially interesting. Due to be published by Knopf on July 19th, 2016.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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Cooper-GE2-SpearOfLightUSBrenda Cooper, SPEAR OF LIGHT (Pyr)

When the post-human Next suddenly re-appear in a solar system that banished them, humans are threatened. Their reactions vary from disgust and anger to yearning to live forever like the powerful Next, who are casually building a new city out of starships in the heart of the re-wilded planet Lym. The first families of Lym must deal with being invaded while they grapple with their own inner fears. 

Ranger Charlie Windar is desperate to save his beloved planet. The Next are building strange cities he never imagined, and other humans who want to destroy the Next are his worst enemies.  

Ambassador Nona Hall strives to forge links between the powerful station she’s from, The Diamond Deep, and the people of Lym. The formidable merchant Gunnar Ellensson appears to be up to no good, and as usual his motivations are suspect. Why is he sending ships to Lym, and what does he intend to do with them when he arrives?

The Shining Revolution threatens to undo everything by attacking the Next on Lym, and their desire to eradicate the post-humans is greater than their desire to save humanity’s home. It is entirely possible that they will draw the wrath of the Next onto all of humanity.

In the meantime, the Next’s motives remain inscrutable. Why are they here at all? What do they want? Why are they interested in the ancient past of a planet that has been ravaged and rebuilt at least once?

The next book in Cooper’s well-received sci-fi series. I haven’t read any of Cooper’s other novels, but I do think I should give them a try. Due to be published by Pyr in June 2016.

Also on CR: Interview with Brenda Cooper (2012); Excerpt from Edge of Dark

Review copy received from publisher

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DeCureJ-HeSaidSheSaidJohn DeCure, HE SAID, SHE SAID (Skyhorse)

For state prosecutor Bradlee Aames, psychosis is a fact of life, a waking nightmare from which modern medicine’s soulless jargon and mind-numbing meds have offered little relief. Bradlee stays focused by winning trial after trial, even while she’s self-medicating with booze, dope, and midnight surfing sessions at a classic LA point break. But when a thick fog of delusions engulfs her, she blows a case, and her reputation and competence are called into question. To rehabilitate her career, her boss gives her an easy assignment: Dr. Don, a popular TV shrink and former state Medical Board expert, now stands accused of sexually exploiting a vulnerable female patient, yet the broken woman won’t testify. If Bradlee can settle the matter quietly, the board, avoiding further embarrassment, will be pleased. But Bradlee Aames doesn’t do things the easy way — not when a predator like Dr. Don is primed to debase more helpless women.

Illusive LA is the gritty, sun-blasted setting for He Said, She Said, a thrilling story of trust, betrayal, truth, and deception. Told from multiple perspectives, it affords the reader a front-row seat to a tense legal battle while exploring the many human consequences of power and corruption.

This sounded pretty interesting, and I was pre-approved on Edelweiss, so I thought I’d give it a go. Due to be published by Skyhorse Publishing, on May 3rd, 2016.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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FowlerC-SpankyUK2016Christopher Fowler, SPANKY (Transworld)

Martyn Ross had a miserable life until he met Spanky, a tuxedoed chamer who’s diabolically handsome, successful and ruthless. He’s willing to share his wild world of wine, women and wealth — but at a price. And it has nothing to do with Martyn surrendering his soul.

Quite the reverse…

FowlerC-RoofworldUK2016Christopher Fowler, ROOFWORLD (Transworld)

You won’t see them unless you know where to look…

High above London’s teeming streets exists a timeless universe with laws and codes known only to itself. Suspended in the skies by a complex system of cables and wires, two rival factions prepare to do battle for control of their world and the eventual manipulation of the city below…

Welcome to Roofworld.

Rose, a beautiful, feisty, amateur photographer — and Robert, a shy but cynical scriptwriter, witness a rooftop kidnapping by chance. And then they hear of strange rooftop murders that are being discovered almost daily — and they want to know more. But in their clumsy efforts to understand, they become caught up in an intense power struggle between honest seekers of another life and the consummate evil of a power-mad leader in control of society’s hopeless. Together, Rose and Robert become inextricably caught up in a violent war among a nearly invisible people who could easily control the future of the world…

Re-issues of early Fowler novels. I read and enjoyed The Sand Men, recently, so when I saw these on NetGalley, I requested them immediately. Spanky and Roofworld are due to be published by Transworld on May 12th, 2016. Transworld will also be re-issuing Psychoville and The Bureau of Lost Souls.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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FowlerC-B&M13-StrangeTideUKChristopher Fowler, STRANGE TIDE (Doubleday)

The river Thames is London’s most important yet neglected artery. When a young woman is found chained to a post in the tide, no-one can understand how she came to be drowned there. At the Peculiar Crimes Unit, Arthur Bryant and John May find themselves dealing with an impossible crime committed in a very public place. 

Soon they discover that the river is giving up other victims, but as the investigation extends from the coast of Libya to the nightclubs of North London, it proves as murkily sinister as the Thames itself. That’s only part of the problem; Bryant’s rapidly deteriorating condition prevents him from handling the case, and he is confined to home. To make matters worse, May makes a fatal error of judgement that knocks him out of action and places everyone at risk.

With the PCU staff baffled as much by their own detectives as the case, the only people who can help now are the battery of eccentrics Bryant keeps listed in his diary, but will their arcane knowledge save the day or make matters even worse? Soon there’s a clear suspect in everyone’s sights – the only thing that’s missing is any scrap of evidence.

As the detectives’ disastrous investigation comes unstuck, the whole team gets involved in some serious messing about on the river. In an adventure that’s as twisting as the river upon which it’s set, will there be anything left of the Peculiar Crimes Unit when it’s over?

More new Fowler fiction! The latest Bryant & May novel (13th in the series). Published in the UK by Doubleday, it came out on March 24th.

Review copy received from publisher

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GaimanN-ViewFromTheCheapSeatsUSNeil Gaiman, THE VIEW FROM THE CHEAP SEATS (William Morrow)

An enthralling collection of nonfiction essays on a myriad of topics—from art and artists to dreams, myths, and memories — observed in #1 New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman’s probing, amusing, and distinctive style.

An inquisitive observer, thoughtful commentator, and assiduous craftsman, Neil Gaiman has long been celebrated for the sharp intellect and startling imagination that informs his bestselling fiction. Now, The View from the Cheap Seats brings together for the first time ever more than sixty pieces of his outstanding nonfiction. Analytical yet playful, erudite yet accessible, this cornucopia explores a broad range of interests and topics, including (but not limited to): authors past and present; music; storytelling; comics; bookshops; travel; fairy tales; America; inspiration; libraries; ghosts; and the title piece, at turns touching and self-deprecating, which recounts the author’s experiences at the 2010 Academy Awards in Hollywood.

Insightful, incisive, witty, and wise, The View from the Cheap Seats explores the issues and subjects that matter most to Neil Gaiman — offering a glimpse into the head and heart of one of the most acclaimed, beloved, and influential artists of our time.

Very much looking forward to reading this. Due to be published on May 31st — in the US by William Morrow, and in the UK by Headline (with a much better cover).

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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GoldstoneD-SurpriseMeDeena Goldstone, SURPRISE ME (Nan A. Talese)

The fragile dream of becoming a writer takes hold of Isabelle Rothman during her senior year of college. Feeling brave, she begins a one-on-one tutorial with a once highly praised novelist, Daniel Jablonski, who is known on campus as eccentric, difficult, and disengaged. Despite his reputation, Isabelle loves his early novels and hopes Daniel can teach her the secrets of his luminous prose. But their first meeting is a disaster. He never read the chapters she submitted and will not apologize for being unprepared. He has lived up to his reputation, and she feels dismissed, humiliated, and furious.

But slowly, over the semester, they gingerly form a bond that begins to anchor both of them. And over the next twenty years, as they live very separate lives — she in Northern California and he finally settled in a tiny New Hampshire town — they reach out to each other through e-mails, phone calls, and visits. Their continual connection helps Isabelle find the courage to take greater risks and push Daniel to work through layers of self-loathing and regret that have kept his career from flourishing. They are the single constant in each other’s life and the most profound influence.

Daniel and Isabelle recognize they are among the blessed few who meet at the exact moment they need each other the most, and that their lives are transformed by this connection. In a final collaboration, the boundaries of teacher and student give way to a work that heals something in each of them. They truly see each other as extraordinary — as people do when they love — and that belief makes all the difference.

Sounded interesting, so I requested it on a whim. I started it one night after being stuck for what to read next. The first couple of chapters were rather good, so I decided to stick with it. About a third of the way through, though, I had to stop — it shifted in a way I hadn’t expected, and sadly for the worse. Isabelle started out as a precocious, innocent undergraduate, but then there was a very strange scene as she graduates, which I just didn’t buy. The ‘relationship’ between her and Daniel seemed based on nothing on the page — only what we are told by the author. And even then, I didn’t think it was realistic. The first chapter of part two sees Isabelle go through such a dramatic character-change (which began with that awkward, sub-Mills-‘n’-Boon scene at her graduation)… Her character is never well-enough established for me to care about her “struggles” and search for her true self. A pity. In case you’re still interested, the novel is published by Nan A. Talese on June 21st, 2016.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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GrimwoodJ-MoskvaUKJack Grimwood, MOSKVA (Michael Joseph)

– Christmas Eve 1985 –

The shaved, exsanguinated body of a young man is found in Red Square; frozen solid — like marble to the touch — missing the little finger from his right hand.

A week later, Alex Marston, the fifteen year old daughter of the British Ambassador disappears. Army Intelligence Officer, Tom Fox, posted to Moscow following the death of his own daughter, is asked to help find her. It’s a shot at redemption.

But as Fox’s investigation drags him deeper towards the dark heart of a Soviet establishment determined to protect its own so his fears grow, with those of the girl’s father, for her safety. A flayed cat, hung by its hind legs from the ceiling of Fox’s flat is just a warning.

And if Fox can’t find Alex soon, it looks as if she could become a sadistic killer’s next human victim…

New novel by Grimwood — of course I’m interested. One of my most-anticipated of the year, Moskva is due to be published by Michael Joseph in the UK, on May 5th, 2016.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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HarteA-W3-SpiraMirabilisAidan Harte, SPIRA MIRABILIS (Jo Fletcher Books)

Darkness is falling and only Contessa Sofia can turn the tide in this thrilling final installment of the Wave trilogy.

In the 1347th year of Our Lady the engineers of Concord defeated the fractious city-state of Rasenna using the magical science of Wave Technology. The City of Towers fought back, and for a while Concord’s plans for domination were halted.

But First Apprentice Torbidda regrouped, and reformed Concord to his own design. Now he is in absolute control, and plotting the final battle that will pacify Etruria… permanently. Contessa Sofia Scaligeri could rally her people once again, but she is far away in the Crusader Kingdom of Akka, trapped with her son by the tyrant Queen Catrina.

Darkness is falling. The final battle must be fought and the tide must be turned, lest evil reign forever.

The third novel in Harte’s Wave trilogy. I received a hardcover edition from (I assume) Quercus US, but I can’t find a website for them… It’s a series I’ve been meaning to read, I just haven’t got around to it, yet. Hopefully soon.

Review copy received from publisher

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HillN-NixUSNathan Hill, THE NIX (Knopf)

Meet Samuel Andresen-Anderson: stalled writer, bored teacher at a local college, obsessive player of an online video game. He hasn’t seen his mother, Faye, since she walked out when he was a child. But then one day there she is, all over the news, throwing rocks at a presidential candidate. The media paints Faye as a militant radical with a sordid past, but as far as Samuel knows, his mother never left her small Iowa town. Which version of his mother is the true one? Determined to solve the puzzle — and finally have something to deliver to his publisher — Samuel decides to capitalize on his mother’s new fame by writing a tell-all biography, a book that will savage her intimately, publicly. But first, he has to locate her; and second, to talk to her without bursting into tears.

As Samuel begins to excavate her history, the story moves from the rural Midwest of the 1960s to New York City during the Great Recession and Occupy Wall Street to the infamous riots at the 1968 Chicago Democratic National Convention, and finally to Norway, home of the mysterious Nix that his mother told him about as a child. And in these places, Samuel will unexpectedly find that he has to rethink everything he ever knew about his mother — a woman with an epic story of her own, a story she kept hidden from the world.

Different to my usual reading fare, and looks like it has a lot of potential. Due to be published by Knopf in August 2016.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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HiltonLS-MaestraUSL.S. Hilton, MAESTRA (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

By day, Judith Rashleigh is a put-upon assistant at a prestigious London art house.

By night, she’s a hostess at one of the capital’s notorious champagne bars, although her work there pales against her activities on nights off.

TO GET WHAT SHE WANTS

Desperate to make something of herself, Judith knows she has to play the game. She’s transformed her accent and taught herself about wine and the correct use of a dessert fork, not to mention the art of discretion. She’s learned to be a good girl. But when Judith is fired for uncovering a dark secret at the heart of the art world — and her honest efforts at a better life are destroyed — she turns to a long-neglected friend. A friend who kept her chin up and back straight through every slight: Rage.

SHE WILL CROSS EVERY LINE

Feeling reckless, she accompanies one of the champagne bar’s biggest clients to the French Riviera, only to find herself alone again after a fatal accident. Tired of striving and the slow crawl to the top, Judith has a realization: If you need to turn yourself into someone else, loneliness is a good place to start. And she’s been lonely a long time.

This looks interesting. Due to be published in the US by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, on April 19th, 2016. Reportedly, Putnam’s bought North American rights for seven figures, from Zaffre Publishing in the UK. I heard about this novel a while ago, but then a Bookseller article about the publicity roll-out for the novel got my attention again, and made me decide to hunt down a copy.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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HobbsR-G2-VanishingGamesUKPBRoger Hobbs, VANISHING GAMES (Corgi)

I work alone. 

I may be the best thief in the world but no one will ever know a single thing about me. Well, almost no one. 

A lifetime ago I had a mentor, Angela. She taught me how to be a criminal, how to run a heist. 

And now, six years after she vanished and left me high and dry on a job in Kuala Lumpur, she’s sent me an SOS.

Or at least I think it’s her. If it is, then I’ve got to go. I owe her that much.

So soon I’ll be on a plane to Macau, either to see a friend or walk into a trap. Or both. 

But that’s the way I like it. Sometimes the only thing that makes me happy is risking my life. 

Time to go.

I’ve already finished this — it’s a gripping, fast-paced thriller, and a good follow-up to Ghostman. I rather enjoyed it, so I’d definitely recommend it to fans of the genre. Check out my full review, here. Published in the UK by Corgi, and in the US by Vintage.

Review copy received from publisher

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HoyleT-TheLastGaspTrevor Hoyle, THE LAST GASP (Jo Fletcher Books)

No oxygen, no life: when the air thins in this near-future thriller, a race against time to find the solution begins

MANKIND IS KILLING

THE AIR WE BREATHE.

Scientists have been warning for decades that we are poisoning the Earth. Now their prophecy is coming true. The oceans have become polluted, destroying a crucial link in the planet’s life-support system.

Instead of joining in friendship to meet this deadly future, corrupt superpowers are plotting to secure the last remaining clean air for the privileged few.

This is the terrifying 21st-century prophecy of what we are doing to our home in space.

Once it was just a scary bedtime story. Now it has become horrifyingly real.

TIME IS SHORT.

THE AIR IS RUNNING OUT.

I feel like I heard about this novel a long time ago, but I’ve not had a chance to read it yet. Now that I have a paperback edition, I’ll be able to rectify that. It sounds interesting. (It’s also really long…)

Review copy received from publisher

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KnaakRA-BlackCitySaintRichard A. Knaak, BLACK CITY SAINT (Pyr)

For more than sixteen hundred years, Nick Medea has followed and guarded the Gate that keeps the mortal realm and that of Feirie separate, seeking in vain absolution for the fatal errors he made when he slew the dragon. All that while, he has tried and failed to keep the woman he loves from dying over and over.

Yet in the fifty years since the Night the Dragon Breathed over the city of Chicago, the Gate has not only remained fixed, but open to the trespasses of the Wyld, the darkest of the Feiriefolk. Not only does that mean an evil resurrected from Nick’s own past, but the reincarnation of his lost Cleolinda, a reincarnation destined once more to die.

Nick must turn inward to that which he distrusts the most: the Dragon, the beast he slew when he was still only Saint George. He must turn to the monster residing in him, now a part of him… but ever seeking escape.

The gang war brewing between Prohibition bootleggers may be the least of his concerns. If Nick cannot prevent an old evil from opening the way between realms… then not only might Chicago face a fate worse than the Great Fire, but so will the rest of the mortal realm.

This has been earning some pretty good advance buzz around the blogosphere. It certainly sounds interesting, so I’m looking forward to giving it a try. Out now, published by Pyr Books.

Review copy received from publisher

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KopeS-CollectingTheDeadUSSpencer Kope, COLLECTING THE DEAD (Minotaur)

Magnus “Steps” Craig is part of the elite three-man Special Tracking Unit of the FBI. Called in on special cases where his skills are particularly needed, he works as a tracker. The media dubs him “The Human Bloodhound,” since Steps is renowned for his incredible ability to find and follow trails over any surface better than anyone else. But there’s a secret to his success. Steps has a special ability — a kind of synesthesia — where he can see the ‘essence’ of a person, something he calls ‘shine,’ on everything they’ve touched. His ability is known to only a few people — his father, the director of the FBI, and his partner, Special Agent Jimmy Donovan.

When the remains of a murdered woman are found, Steps recognizes the shine left by the murderer from another crime scene with a physically similar victim. And he uncovers the signature at both scenes — the mark of a sad face. At the same time, another killer, one Steps has dubbed Leonardo and has been trying to track for over ten years, appears again, taunting Steps. But while Steps tries to find a clue that will lead him to Leonardo, the case of the Sad Face Killer heats up. The team uncovers eleven possible victims: missing women who fit the same pattern. Using his skill and the resources of the Bureau, it is a race against time to find the killer before it’s too late.

Sounds like a rather good thriller. And it feels like an age since last I read a book about an FBI agent… Due to be published by Minotaur in June 2016.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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KristianG-S2-WintersFireUKGiles Kristian, WINTER’S FIRE (Bantam)

Norway, AD 785 – a vow of vengeance must be kept…

Sigurd Haraldarson has proved himself a great warrior… and a dangerous enemy.

He has gone a long way towards avenging the murder of his family. And yet the oath-breaker King Gorm, who betrayed Sigurd’s father, still lives. And so long as he draws breath, the scales remain unbalanced. 

The sacred vow to avenge his family burns in Sigurd’s veins, but he must be patient and bide his time. He knows that he and his band of warriors are not yet strong enough to confront the treacherous king. They need silver, they need more spear-brothers to rally to the young Viking’s banner – but more than these, they need to win fame upon the battlefield. 

And so the fellowship venture west, to Sweden, to fight as mercenaries. And it is there – in the face of betrayal and bloodshed, on a journey that will take him all too close to the halls of Valhalla – that Sigurd’s destiny will be forged. There, in the inferno of winter’s fire…

This is the sequel to God of Vengeance. Strange thing about this novel — I couldn’t find any online footprint from Kristian’s publisher. Thought that was very strange, especially because I could find details for the novel that comes after this one. Published by Bantam in November 2016.

Review copy received from publisher

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KroeseR-TheBigSheepUSRobert Kroese, THE BIG SHEEP (Thomas Dunne Books)

Los Angeles of 2039 is a baffling and bifurcated place. After the Collapse of 2028, a vast section of LA, the Disincorporated Zone, was disowned by the civil authorities, and became essentially a third world country within the borders of the city. Navigating the boundaries between DZ and LA proper is a tricky task, and there’s no one better suited than eccentric private investigator Erasmus Keane. When a valuable genetically altered sheep mysteriously goes missing from Esper Corporation’s labs, Keane is the one they call.

But while the erratic Keane and his more grounded partner, Blake Fowler, are on the trail of the lost sheep, they land an even bigger case. Beautiful television star Priya Mistry suspects that someone is trying to kill her — and she wants Keane to find out who. When Priya vanishes and then reappears with no memory of having hired them, Keane and Fowler realize something very strange is going on. As they unravel the threads of the mystery, it soon becomes clear that the two cases are connected — and both point to a sinister conspiracy involving the most powerful people in the city. Saving Priya and the sheep will take all of Keane’s wits and Fowler’s skills, but in the end, they may discover that some secrets are better left hidden.

This sounds pretty weird and interesting. Looking forward to reading it. Due to be published by Thomas Dunne Books in June 2016.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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LaPierJ-2-UnclearSkiesUKJason LaPier, UNCLEAR SKIES (Voyager)

Justice isn’t what it used to be

Rogue cop Stanford Runstom blew open a botched murder case and was given a promotion – of sorts. But doing PR work for ModPol, the security-firm-for-hire, is not the detective position Runstom had in mind, particularly when his orders become questionable.

Freedom always comes at a price

Despite being cleared of false murder charges, Jax is still a fugitive from justice. When ModPol catches up with him, keeping his freedom now means staying alive at any cost, even if that means joining Space Waste, the notorious criminal gang.

Security can be deadly

When ModPol and Space Waste go head to head, old friends Runstom and Jax find themselves caught between two bloodthirsty armies, and this time they might not escape with their lives.

The second novel in LaPier’s sci-fi series, and sequel to Unexpected Rain. I really should get caught up — they both sound rather good. Published by Voyager on June 30th, 2016.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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LarkeG-FL3-FallOfTheDaggerGlenda Larke, THE FALL OF THE DAGGER (Orbit)

Excommunicated cleric Saker returns from exile in the Spice Islands to find his homeland in chaos.

A dark sorcerer controls the ear of the King, turning him against his own son and heir, while a corrupted army gathers in the shadows.

With the illusionist Sorrel and islander Ardhi, armed with magic from Ardhi’s homeland, Saker now must stand between his city and the corruption that threatens to cripple it before it is too late…

The third instalment in Larke’s Forsaken Lands series. Sounds pretty interesting. Published by Orbit Books in the US (Apr.19) and UK (Apr.21).

Also on CR: Reviews of The Last Stormlord & Stormlord RisingThe Lascar’s DaggerThe Dagger’s Path

Review copy received from publisher

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Lovegrove-2-WorldOfWaterJames Lovegrove, WORLD OF WATER (Solaris)

Dev Harmer, reluctant agent of Interstellar Security Solutions, has travelled to ocean world Robinson D, nicknamed Triton.

Here, settlements belonging to the Terran Diaspora have been coming under attack by members of the planet’s sub-aquatic indigenous race. ISS suspects the involvement of an agent provocateur working for humankind’s galactic rivals, the artificial intelligence civilisation known as Polis+.

As the violence escalates, Dev finds himself battling to restore order — but he has only seventy-two hours before his genetically engineered host form breaks down irreversibly. And all as an ancient god-beast rises from the depths to usher in an apocalypse…

Lovegrove is an author whose work has always been of interest, but for some reason I’ve read very little of it. Not really sure why that keeps happening. World of Water is the second in the author’s latest sci-fi series, following World Of Fire.

Also on CR: Interview with James Lovegrove (2012); Guest Posts on “On the Age of Godpunk Novellas” and “Pantheon Inspirations”; Excerpt from Age of Shiva

Review copy received from publisher

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MagaryD-HikeUSDrew Magary, THE HIKE (Viking)

When Ben, a suburban family man, takes a business trip to rural Pennsylvania, he decides to spend the afternoon before his dinner meeting on a short hike. Once he sets out into the woods behind his hotel, he quickly comes to realize that the path he has chosen cannot be given up easily. With no choice but to move forward, Ben finds himself falling deeper and deeper into a world of man-eating giants, bizarre demons, and colossal insects.

On a quest of epic, life-or-death proportions, Ben finds help comes in some of the most unexpected forms, including a profane crustacean and a variety of magical objects, tools, and potions. Desperate to return to his family, Ben is determined to track down the “Producer,” the creator of the world in which he is being held hostage and the only one who can free him from the path.

At once bitingly funny and emotionally absorbing, Magary’s novel is a remarkably unique addition to the contemporary fantasy genre, one that draws as easily from the world of classic folk tales as it does from video games. In The Hike, Magary takes readers on a daring odyssey away from our day-to-day grind and transports them into an enthralling world propelled by heart, imagination, and survival.

I loved Magary’s debut, The Postmortal, so when The Hike was announced I was rather pleased. Really looking forward to reading this one. Due to be published by Viking in August 2016.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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MartinGZ-AK4-ShadowAndFlameGail Z. Martin, SHADOW AND FLAME (Orbit)

The fourth and final novel in the epic Ascendant Kingdoms Saga.

Blaine McFadden and his allies have brought magic back under mortal command and begun to restore order to the beleaguered kingdom of Donderath. Now, new perils and old enemies gather for a final reckoning. Foreign invaders, a legendary dark mage and vengeful immortals fight Blaine’s battered forces for control of the continent, and Blaine’s weary army is the only thing standing between a kingdom struggling to rise from the ashes and a descent into fury and darkness.

Another long-running, well-received fantasy series comes to a close… (I wonder if this means 2017 will be a bumper year for new epic fantasy series?) Out now, published by Orbit Books in the US and UK.

Also on CR: Guest Posts on “It’s the End of the World as we Know it — Again”, “After Apocalypse”, “Anarchy Sucks” and “Saving the World — With a Little Help from Friends”; Review of The Sworn

Review copy received from publisher

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OlderM-InfomocracyUSMalka Older, INFOMOCRACY (Tor.com)

It’s been twenty years and two election cycles since Information, a powerful search engine monopoly, pioneered the switch from warring nation-states to global micro-democracy. The corporate coalition party Heritage has won the last two elections. With another election on the horizon, the Supermajority is in tight contention, and everything’s on the line.

With power comes corruption. For Ken, this is his chance to do right by the idealistic Policy1st party and get a steady job in the big leagues. For Domaine, the election represents another staging ground in his ongoing struggle against the pax democratica. For Mishima, a dangerous Information operative, the whole situation is a puzzle: how do you keep the wheels running on the biggest political experiment of all time, when so many have so much to gain?

This sounds brilliant, and is one of my most-anticipated debut novels of the year. I’ll be reading it very soon. Published by Tor.com on June 7th, 2016.

Review copy received from publisher

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OlsonMF-NightshadesMelissa F. Olson, NIGHTSHADES (Tor.com)

Alex McKenna is the new Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago office of the Bureau of Paranormal Investigations — the division tasked with investigating crimes involving shades.

Or vampires, as they’re more widely known.

Children have been going missing, and agents are routinely being slaughtered. It’s up to McKenna, and some unlikely allies, to get to the bottom of the problem, and find the kids before it’s too late.

This sounds great, will read ASAP. I want to read more novels set in Chicago — only been there once, but loved it. Due to be published by Tor.com in July 2016.

Review copy received from publisher

*

SaulterS-R3-RegenerationUSStephanie Saulter, REGENERATION (Quercus US)

The gillungs — waterbreathing, genetically modified humans — are thriving. They’ve colonised riverbanks and ports long since abandoned to the rising seas and the demand for their high-efficiency technologies is growing fast.

But as demand grows, so do fears about their impact on both norm businesses and the natural environment. Then, a biohazard scare at Sinkat, their colony on the Thames, fuels the opposition and threatens to derail the gillungs’ progress. But was it an accident, or was it sabotage?

Detective Sharon Varsi has her suspicions, but her investigations are compromised by family ties. And now there is a new threat: Zavcka Klist is about to be released from prison — and she wants her company back.

I really enjoyed the first novel in this series, but the second one keeps slipping away from me, because I keep moving and getting distracted. Now that I have the second and third novel, though, I should be able to get caught up relatively easily. It’s a great premise, and Saulter’s writing is superb. The novel is published in the US by Quercus in May 2016. Regeneration (and the series as a whole) is published by Jo Fletcher Books in the UK, and is out now in hardcover, and will be published in paperback in May 2016.

Also on CR: Review of Gemsigns; Interview with Stephanie Saulter (2015); Excerpt from Gemsigns; Guest posts on “Influences & Inspirations” and “Spreading the Revolution”

Review copy received from publisher

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SkovronJ-1-HopeAndRedJon Skovron, HOPE AND RED (Orbit)

One seeks power. The other revenge. Together, they are rebellion.

HOPE, the lone survivor of a village massacred by the emperor’s forces, secretly trains as an assassin and dreams of vengeance.

RED, an orphan adopted by a notorious matriarch of the criminal underworld, learns to be an expert thief and con artist.

When they meet, empires will fall.

There’s a growing buzz about this novel and series. Skovron has written YA novels in the past and, I believe, this is his debut adult fantasy. It sounds like fun — probably good for fans of Brent Weeks, Michael J. Sullivan, David Dalglish, and others of that ilk. Due to be published by Orbit, on June 30th in the UK, and June 28th in the US.

Review copy received from publisher

*

Sykes-MortalTallySam Sykes, THE MORTAL TALLY (Orbit)

The heart of civilization bleeds.

Cier’Djaal, once the crowning glory of the civilized world, has gone from a city to a battlefield and a battlefield to a graveyard. Foreign armies clash relentlessly on streets laden with the bodies of innocents caught in the crossfire. Cultists and thieves wage shadow wars, tribal armies foment outside the city’s walls, and haughty aristocrats watch the world burn from on high.

As his companions struggle to keep the city from destroying itself, Lenk travels to the Forbidden East in search of the demon who caused it all. But even as he pursues Khoth-Kapira, dark whispers plague his thoughts. Khoth-Kapira promises him a world free of war where Lenk can put down his sword at last. And Lenk finds it hard not to listen.

When gods are deaf, demons will speak.

New Sykes novel! This is always a good thing. Sequel to The City Stained Red. Out now, published by Orbit Books in the US and Gollancz in the UK.

Also on CR: Interview with Sam Sykes (2011); Catch-Up Interview (2012); Reviews of Tome of the UndergatesBlack Halo and The City Stained Red

Review copy received from publisher

*

VanDenBergL-FindMeUSLaura van Den Berg, FIND ME (Farrar, Strauss & Giroux)

Joy has no one. She spends her days working the graveyard shift at a grocery store outside Boston and nursing an addiction to cough syrup, an attempt to suppress her troubled past. But when a sickness that begins with memory loss and ends with death sweeps the country, Joy, for the first time in her life, seems to have an advantage: she is immune. When Joy’s immunity gains her admittance to a hospital in rural Kansas, she sees a chance to escape her bleak existence. There she submits to peculiar treatments and follows seemingly arbitrary rules, forming cautious bonds with other patients — including her roommate, whom she turns to in the night for comfort, and twin boys who are digging a secret tunnel.

As winter descends, the hospital’s fragile order breaks down and Joy breaks free, embarking on a journey from Kansas to Florida, where she believes she can find her birth mother, the woman who abandoned her as a child. On the road in a devastated America, she encounters mysterious companions, cities turned strange, and one very eerie house. As Joy closes in on Florida, she must confront her own damaged memory and the secrets she has been keeping from herself.

I don’t remember where I first heard about this novel, but the synopsis piqued my interest, so I decided to pick it up. Hopefully won’t be too long before I get around to reading it. Published in North America by FS&G, and in the UK by Del Rey.

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VyletaD-SmokeUSDan Vyleta, SMOKE (Doubleday)

England. A century ago, give or take a few years.

An England where people who are wicked in thought or deed are marked by the Smoke that pours forth from their bodies, a sign of their fallen state. The aristocracy do not smoke, proof of their virtue and right to rule, while the lower classes are drenched in sin and soot. An England utterly strange and utterly real.

An elite boarding school where the sons of the wealthy are groomed to take power as their birthright. Teachers with mysterious ties to warring political factions at the highest levels of government.  Three young people who learn everything they’ve been taught is a lie — knowledge that could cost them their lives. A grand estate where secrets lurk in attic rooms and hidden laboratories. A love triangle. A desperate chase. Revolutionaries and secret police. Religious fanatics and coldhearted scientists. Murder. A London filled with danger and wonder. A tortured relationship between a mother and a daughter, and a mother and a son. Unexpected villains and unexpected heroes. Cool reason versus passion. Rich versus poor. Right versus wrong, though which is which isn’t clear.

This is the world of Smoke, a narrative tour de force, a tale of Dickensian intricacy and ferocious imaginative power, richly atmospheric and intensely suspenseful.

I first spotted this on the website of Vyleta’s UK publisher, and it caught my attention. When I spotted it on Edelweiss, I requested it immediately. Really looking forward to reading this one. Due to be published in North America by Doubleday on May 24th, 2016; and in the UK on July 7th, by W&N.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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WingroveD-RtM2-OceanOfTimeUKDavid Wingrove, THE OCEAN OF TIME (Del Rey UK)

Part Two of The Roads to Moscow

The War For Time Continues.

From the frozen tundra of 13th Century Russia to the battle of Paltava in 1709 and beyond, Otto Behr has waged an unquestioning, unending war across time for his people.

But now a third unidentified power has joined the game across the ocean of time, and everything Otto holds dear could be unmade…

This is the second book in the series, for which I haven’t read the first. I think it was a victim of one of my many moves, so I just forgot about it. It sounds relatively interesting, but I don’t think it’s too high on my Mt. TBR, unfortunately. Published in the UK in paperback by Del Rey, on April 7th, 2016.

Review copy received from publisher

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WintersBH-UndergroundAirlinesUKBen H. Winters, UNDERGROUND AIRLINES (Century)

It is the present-day, and the world is as we know it. Except for one thing: slavery still exists.

Victor has escaped his life as a slave, but his freedom came at a high price. Striking a bargain with the government, he has to live his life working as a bounty hunter. And he is the best they’ve ever trained. 

A mystery to himself, Victor tries to suppress his memories of his own childhood and convinces himself that he is just a good man doing bad work, unwilling to give up the freedom he is desperate to preserve. But in tracking his latest target, he can sense that that something isn’t quite right.

For this fugitive is a runaway holding something extraordinary. Something that could change the state of the country forever.

And in his pursuit, Victor discovers secrets at the core of his country’s arrangement with the system that imprisoned him, secrets that will be preserved at any cost.

This sounds really interesting. Published by Century in the UK, on July 14th, 2016; Mulholland Books publish in North America, on July 4th.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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WrayJ-LostTimeAccidentsUSJohn Wray, THE LOST TIME ACCIDENTS (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

In his ambitious and fiercely inventive new novel, The Lost Time Accidents, John Wray takes us from turn-of-the-century Viennese salons buzzing with rumors about Einstein’s radical new theory to the death camps of World War Two, from the golden age of postwar pulp science fiction to a startling discovery in a Manhattan apartment packed to the ceiling with artifacts of modern life.

Haunted by a failed love affair and the darkest of family secrets, Waldemar ‘Waldy’ Tolliver wakes one morning to discover that he has been exiled from the flow of time. The world continues to turn, and Waldy is desperate to find his way back-a journey that forces him to reckon not only with the betrayal at the heart of his doomed romance but also the legacy of his great-grandfather’s fatal pursuit of the hidden nature of time itself.

Part madcap adventure, part harrowing family drama, part scientific mystery — and never less than wildly entertaining — The Lost Time Accidents is a bold and epic saga set against the greatest upheavals of the twentieth century.

I learnt of this novel very close to publication, but I can’t remember exactly from where — probably The Millions or Buzzfeed. Published in North America by FS&G (out now), and in the UK by Canongate (with a much better cover), on June 2nd, 2016.

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