New Books (Nov-Dec 2016)

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Featuring: David Annandale, Marie Brennan, Maurice Broaddus, Paul Cornell, Michael Crichton, Thoraiya Dyer, Warren Ellis, Christopher Golden, Lee Irby, Kathleen Kent, Christina Kovac, Jonathan Lethem, Laura Lippman, Gregory McDonald, Claire North, Andrew Pyper, Joshua Reynolds, Suzanne Rindell, Kim Stanley Robinson, Steven Savile, Norman Spinrad, Ingrid Thoft, Tim Walker, Alex Wells, Jen Williams, Jason Zinoman

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annandaled-gk1-wardenofthebladeDavid Annandale, WARDEN OF THE BLADE (Black Library)

Castellan Crowe, Brotherhood Champion of the Purifier order of the Grey Knights, bears a heavy burden – to be the warden of the dread Blade of Antwyr. Its malevolent voice is forever in his head, trying to crack his resolve, urging him to unleash a power he must never use. The toll is terrible, and how long before the incorruptible Crowe is at last defeated? His harrowing task first began at Sandava II… Under the command of Castellan Gavallan, Crowe and his brother Purifiers bring purging flame to a daemonic incursion that threatens to consume the world. What awaits them is more insidious and more powerful than they imagine, and they must reckon too with the machinations of the Blade, as it seeks to destroy its guardian and drown the galaxy in blood.

I received the limited edition of this novel from the publisher, and I must say, it’s a stunning book: the production value on BL’s limited editions is superb (unsurprisingly, I suppose). This and Fabius Bile, below, are the first BL special editions that I’ve ever seen in real life, and I am very impressed. The novel is also available as regular hardcover and eBook (for some reason, not yet via Amazon for Kindle…).

Also on CR: Interview with David Annandale (2012); Guest Post on “My Favourite Novel”; Reviews of The Carrion AnthemThe Damnation of Pythos

Review copy received from publisher

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brennanm-lightninginthebloodMarie Brennan, LIGHTNING IN THE BLOOD (Tor.com)

Once, there was a call — a binding — and so, a woman appeared, present in body but absent in knowledge of her past self. 

Making the ultimate journey of rediscovery was not without its own pitfalls — or rewards — and now Ree, a roaming Archeron, spirit of legend and time and physically now bound to her current form, has yet to fully uncover her true identity.

Ree has spent her last innumerable seasons on the move — orbiting, in some sense, the lands of her only friend in this world, Aadet, who has become intricately involved in the new post-revolution politics of his people. Swinging back from the forests surrounding Solaike, Ree falls in with another wandering band, some refugees accompanied by their own Archeron, who seems to know much more about Ree’s own origins than she ever dared to hope.

The second novel in Brennan’s Varekai series, following Cold-Forged Flame. Published by Tor.com in the US and UK, on May 30th, 2017.

Also on CR: Interview with Marie Brennan (2013), Guest Post on “The Series Payoff”; Reviews of Cold-Forged Flame, A Natural History of Dragons and In Ashes Lie

Review copy received from publisher

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broaddusm-buffalosoldierMaurice Broaddus, BUFFALO SOLDIER (Tor.com)

Having stumbled onto a plot within his homeland of Jamaica, former espionage agent, Desmond Coke, finds himself caught between warring religious and political factions, all vying for control of a mysterious boy named Lij Tafari.

Wanting the boy to have a chance to live a free life, Desmond assumes responsibility for him and they flee. But a dogged enemy agent remains ever on their heels, desperate to obtain the secrets held within Lij for her employer alone.

Assassins, intrigue, and steammen stand between Desmond and Lij as they search for a place to call home in a North America that could have been.

This looks really interesting. I don’t read much steampunk, but I’m intrigued. Hopefully will read this very soon. I have also done an interview with the author in the works, so check back tomorrow for that. Published by Tor.com on April 25th, 2017, it will also be available in the UK.

Review copy received from publisher

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cornellp-chalkPaul Cornell, CHALK (Tor.com)

Paul Cornell plumbs the depths of magic and despair in Chalk, a brutal exploration of bullying in Margaret Thatcher’s England.

Andrew Waggoner has always hung around with his fellow losers at school, desperately hoping each day that the school bullies — led by Drake — will pass him by in search of other prey. But one day they force him into the woods, and the bullying escalates into something more; something unforgivable; something unthinkable.

Broken, both physically and emotionally, something dies in Waggoner, and something else is born in its place.

In the hills of the West Country a chalk horse stands vigil over a site of ancient power, and there Waggoner finds in himself a reflection of rage and vengeance, a power and persona to topple those who would bring him low.

This sounds very interesting. Published by Tor.com on March 21st, 2017, it will also be available in the UK.

Also on CR: Interview with Paul Cornell (2013); Guest Post on “Stuck in the Middle with Sherlock”

Review copy received from publisher

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crichtonm-dragonteethusMichael Crichton, DRAGON TEETH (Harper)

The year is 1876. Warring Indian tribes still populate Americas western territories even as lawless gold-rush towns begin to mark the landscape. In much of the country it is still illegal to espouse evolution. Against this backdrop two monomaniacal paleontologists pillage the Wild West, hunting for dinosaur fossils, while surveilling, deceiving and sabotaging each other in a rivalry that will come to be known as the Bone Wars.

Into this treacherous territory plunges the arrogant and entitled William Johnson, a Yale student with more privilege than sense. Determined to survive a summer in the west to win a bet against his arch-rival, William has joined world-renowned paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh on his latest expedition. But when the paranoid and secretive Marsh becomes convinced that William is spying for his nemesis, Edwin Drinker Cope, he abandons him in Cheyenne, Wyoming, a locus of crime and vice. William is forced to join forces with Cope and soon stumbles upon a discovery of historic proportions. With this extraordinary treasure, however, comes exceptional danger, and Williams newfound resilience will be tested in his struggle to protect his cache, which pits him against some of the Wests most notorious characters.

A page-turner that draws on both meticulously researched history and an exuberant imagination, Dragon Teeth is based on the rivalry between real-life paleontologists Cope and Marsh; in William Johnson readers will find an inspiring hero only Michael Crichton could have imagined. Perfectly paced and brilliantly plotted, this enormously winning adventure is destined to become another Crichton classic.

I am one of the many people who read Jurassic Park when they were very young, and have been intrigued by Crichton’s novels ever since. Strangely, though, I haven’t read too many of them. I’m also rather surprised how consistently new Crichton novels pop up, given that he passed away in 2008… Anyway, Dragon Teeth is published by Harper in North America and the UK, in May 2017.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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dyert-tf1-crossroadsofcanopyusThoraiya Dyer, CROSSROADS OF CANOPY (Tor)

At the highest level of a giant forest, thirteen kingdoms fit seamlessly together to form the great city of Canopy. Thirteen goddesses and gods rule this realm and are continuously reincarnated into human bodies. Canopy’s position in the sun, however, is not without its dark side. The nation’s opulence comes from the labor of slaves, and below its fruitful boughs are two other realms: Understorey and Floor, whose deprived citizens yearn for Canopy’s splendor.

Unar, a determined but destitute young woman, escapes her parents’ plot to sell her into slavery by being selected to serve in the Garden under the goddess Audblayin, ruler of growth and fertility. As a Gardener, she wishes to become Audblayin’s next Bodyguard while also growing sympathetic towards Canopy’s slaves.

When Audblayin dies, Unar sees her opportunity for glory – at the risk of descending into the unknown dangers of Understorey to look for a newborn god. In its depths, she discovers new forms of magic, lost family connections, and murmurs of a revolution that could cost Unar her chance… or grant it by destroying the home she loves.

This title first caught my attention, I confess, when the cover was revealed. That led me to the synopsis, and my curiosity was piqued. The first novel in the Titan’s Forest series, it’s published by Tor on January 31st, 2017.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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ellisw-normalWarren Ellis, NORMAL (FSG Originals)

Some people call it “abyss gaze.” Gaze into the abyss all day and the abyss will gaze into you.

There are two types of people who think professionally about the future: Foresight strategists are civil futurists who think about geoengineering and smart cities and ways to evade Our Coming Doom; strategic forecasters are spook futurists, who think about geopolitical upheaval and drone warfare and ways to prepare clients for Our Coming Doom. The former are paid by nonprofits and charities, the latter by global security groups and corporate think tanks.

For both types, if you’re good at it, and you spend your days and nights doing it, then it’s something you can’t do for long. Depression sets in. Mental illness festers. And if the abyss gaze takes hold there’s only one place to recover: Normal Head, in the wilds of Oregon, within the secure perimeter of an experimental forest.

When Adam Dearden, a foresight strategist, arrives at Normal Head, he is desperate to unplug and be immersed in sylvan silence. But then a patient goes missing from his locked bedroom, leaving nothing but a pile of insects in his wake. A staff investigation ensues; surveillance becomes total. As the mystery of the disappeared man unravels in Warren Ellis’s Normal, Adam uncovers a conspiracy that calls into question the core principles of how and why we think about the future — and the past, and the now.

This is a pretty short novel, and one I’ve been looking forward to for quite some time. Will read and review ASAP. Published by FSG Originals in the US and UK.

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goldenc-araratusChristopher Golden, ARARAT (St. Martin’s Press)

When a newly engaged couple climbs Mount Ararat in Turkey, an avalanche forces them to seek shelter inside a massive cave uncovered by the snow fall. The cave is actually an ancient, buried ship that many quickly come to believe is really Noah’s Ark. But when a team of scholars, archaeologists, and filmmakers make it inside the ark for the first time, they discover an elaborate coffin in its recesses…and when they break it open, they find that the cadaver within is an ugly, misshapen thing…and it has horns. A massive blizzard blows in, trapping them in that cave thousands of meters up the side of a remote mountain…but they are not alone.

Sounds really interesting. Hopefully reading it very soon. Published in North America by St. Martin’s Press, on April 18th 2017; it is due to be published in the UK by Headline, on the same day.

Also on CR: Interview with Christopher Golden (2013)

Review copy received via NetGalley

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irbyl-unreliableusLee Irby, UNRELIABLE (Doubleday)

The story of a charming college professor who most definitely did not — but maybe did — kill his ex-wife. Or someone else. Or no one. Irby plays with the thriller trope in unimaginably clever ways.

Edwin Stith, a failed novelist and college writing instructor in upstate New York, is returning home for the weekend to Richmond, Virginia, to celebrate his mother’s wedding — to a much younger man. Edwin has a peculiar relationship with the truth. He is a liar who is brutally honest. He may or may not be sleeping with his students, he may or may not be getting fired, and he may or may not have killed his ex-wife, a lover, and his brand-new stepsister.

Stith’s dysfunctional homecoming leads him deep into a morass of long-gestating secrets and dangers, of old-flames still burning strong and new passions ready to consume everything he holds dear. But family dysfunction is only eclipsed by Edwin’s own, leading to profound suspense and utter hilarity. Lee Irby has crafted a sizzling modern classic of dark urges, lies, and secrets that harks back to the unsettling obsessions of Edgar Allan Poe — with a masterful ending that will have you thinking for days.

This sounded like it might be interesting. Published by Doubleday in April 2017 in the US and UK.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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kentk-1-thedimeusKathleen Kent, THE DIME (Mulholland)

Brooklyn’s toughest female detective takes on Dallas — and neither is ready for the fight.

Dallas, Texas is not for the faint of heart. Good thing for Betty Rhyzyk she’s from a family of take-no-prisoners Brooklyn police detectives. But her Big Apple wisdom will only get her so far when she relocates to The Big D, where Mexican drug cartels and cult leaders, deadbeat skells and society wives all battle for sunbaked turf.

Betty is as tough as the best of them, but she’s deeply shaken when her first investigation goes sideways. Battling a group of unruly subordinates, a persistent stalker, a formidable criminal organization, and an unsupportive girlfriend, the unbreakable Detective Betty Rhyzyk may be reaching her limit.

Combining the colorful pyrotechnics of Breaking Bad with the best of the gritty crime genre, The Dime is Kathleen Kent’s brilliant mystery debut and the launch of a sensational new series.

This sounds pretty good, and it’s been getting a fair bit of early buzz. The Dime is published by Mulholland Books in the US, in February 2017 (and is available to pre-order on import in the UK).

Review copy received via NetGalley

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kovacc-cutawayusChristina Kovac, THE CUTAWAY (37Ink)

Enter the tangled world of corruption and cover-up as a young television producer investigates the disappearance of a beautiful Georgetown lawyer…

When brilliant TV news producer Virginia Knightly receives a disturbing “MISSING” notice on her desk related to the disappearance of a beautiful young attorney, she can’t seem to shake the image from her head. Despite skepticism from her colleagues, Knightly suspects this ambitious young lawyer may be at the heart of something far more sinister, especially since she was last seen leaving an upscale restaurant after a domestic dispute. Yet, as the only woman of power at her station, Knightly quickly finds herself investigating on her own.

Risking her career, her life, and perhaps even her own sanity, Knightly dives deep into the dark underbelly of Washington, DC business and politics in an investigation that will drag her mercilessly through the inextricable webs of corruption that bind the press, the police, and politics in our nation’s capital.

One of my most anticipated novels of 2017, I was very happy when I received an ARC of this at the beginning of December. I’ve already read the novel, but I promised the publisher that I’d hold off the review until the beginning of March. Published in North America by 37Ink, in March 2017; and in the UK by Serpent’s Tail, in April 2017.

Review copy received from publisher

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lethemj-luckyalanJonathan Lethem, LUCKY ALAN (Vintage)

Jonathan Lethem’s third collection of stories uncovers a father’s nervous breakdown at SeaWorld in “Pending Vegan”; a foundling child rescued from the woods during a blizzard in “Traveler Home”; a political prisoner in a hole in a Brooklyn street in “Procedure in Plain Air”; and a crumbling, haunted “blog” on a seaside cliff in “The Dreaming Jaw, The Salivating Ear.” Each of these locates itself in Lethem-land, which can be discovered only by visiting. As in his celebrated novels, Lethem finds the uncanny lurking in the mundane, the irrational self-defeat seeping through our upstanding pursuits, and the tragic undertow of the absurd world(s) in which we live.

Devoted fans of Lethem will recognize familiar themes: the anxiety of influence taken to reductio ad absurdum in “The King of Sentences”; a hapless, horny outsider summoning bravado in “The Porn Critic”; characters from forgotten comics stranded on a desert island in “Their Back Pages.” As always in Lethem, humor and poignancy work in harmony, humans strive desperately for connection, words find themselves misaligned to deeds, and the sentences are glorious.

I still haven’t read anything by Lethem. I’ve tried Fortress of Solitude, but I did so at a time when I really wasn’t in the mood for it. I also didn’t used to like anthologies too much, but since reading Richard Russo’s upcoming Trajectory, I’ve come to the conclusion that I actually do. So, I thought Lucky Alan might be a good way to get into Lethem’s writing. (I also picked up Chronic City.) I ended up reading this pretty quickly. There were moments when I thought, “Ok, I can see why he’s popular,” but there were also plenty of moments when I just zoned out. An interesting, if certainly imperfect collection. I appreciated the experimentalism, but also often just wanted the stories to be… well, not exactly “regular”, but less-odd. Published by Vintage in North America and the UK, it’s out now.

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lippmanl-wildelakeusLaura Lippman, WILDE LAKE (William Morrow)

An African-American man accused of rape by a humiliated girl. A vengeful father. A courageous attorney. A worshipful daughter. Think you know this story? Think again.

Luisa “Lu” Brant is the newly elected state’s attorney representing suburban Maryland — including the famous planned community of Columbia, created to be a utopia of racial and economic equality. Prosecuting a controversial case involving a disturbed drifter accused of beating a woman to death, the fiercely ambitious Lu is determined to avoid the traps that have destroyed other competitive, successful women. She’s going to play it smart to win this case — and win big — cementing her political future. 

But her intensive preparation for trial unexpectedly dredges up painful recollections of another crime—the night when her brother, AJ, saved his best friend at the cost of another man’s life. Only eighteen, AJ was cleared by a grand jury. Justice was done. Or was it? Did the events of 1980 happen as she remembers them? She was only a child then. What details didn’t she know? 

As she plunges deeper into the past, Lu is forced to face a troubling reality. The legal system, the bedrock of her entire life, does not have all the answers. But what happens when she realizes that, for the first time, she doesn’t want to know the whole truth?

Took me a while to get around to picking this up. Thought it looked good. Out now, published by William Morrow in North America, and Faber & Faber in the UK.

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mcdonaldg-snatchGregory McDonald, SNATCH (Hard Case Crime)

Whether it’s a Middle East oil crisis in the 1970s or the London Blitz during WWII, world events have a way of breeding trouble on the home front, too. That’s how Toby Rinaldi, son of a U.N. Ambassador, wound up kidnapped on his way to a California amusement park, and how Robby Burnes, orphaned son of British nobility, wound up snatched on the snowy streets of New York City. But as Robby’s famous namesake taught us, the best laid plans don’t always work out as intended. Especially not when you’e a kidnapper in the hands of Gregory Mcdonald.

Published by Hard Case Crime in the US and UK, in February 2017.

Review copy received from publisher

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mirandam-perfectstrangercaMegan Miranda, THE PERFECT STRANGER (Simon & Schuster)

Confronted by a restraining order and the threat of a lawsuit, failed journalist Leah Stevens needs to get out of Boston when she runs into an old friend, Emmy Grey, who has just left a troubled relationship. Emmy proposes they move to rural Pennsylvania, where Leah can get a teaching position and both women can start again. But their new start is threatened when a woman with an eerie resemblance to Leah is assaulted by the lake, and Emmy disappears days later.

Determined to find Emmy, Leah cooperates with Kyle Donovan, a handsome young police officer on the case. As they investigate her friend’s life for clues, Leah begins to wonder: did she ever really know Emmy at all? With no friends, family, or a digital footprint, the police begin to suspect that there is no Emmy Grey. Soon Leah’s credibility is at stake, and she is forced to revisit her past: the article that ruined her career. To save herself, Leah must uncover the truth about Emmy Grey — and along the way, confront her old demons, find out who she can really trust, and clear her own name.

Everyone in this rural Pennsylvanian town has something to hide — including Leah herself. How do you uncover the truth when you are busy hiding your own?

This is Miranda’s follow-up to All the Missing Girls (though it’s not a sequel, and features different characters). It looks really good, so I’ll be reading it pretty soon. It’s not out until May 2017, though, so I’ll hold off on posting the review until maybe April. Published by Simon & Schuster in North America.

Review copy received from publisher

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northc-endofthedayukClaire North, THE END OF THE DAY (Redhook)

At the end of the day, Death visits everyone. Right before that, Charlie does.

You might meet him in a hospital, in a warzone, or at the scene of a traffic accident.

Then again, you might meet him at the North Pole — he gets everywhere, our Charlie.

Would you shake him by the hand, take the gift he offers, or would you pay no attention to the words he says?

Sometimes he is sent as a courtesy, sometimes as a warning. He never knows which.

Every new Claire North book is a must-read. Every single one. Unfortunately, there’s no cover to share, yet. Published by Redhook in the US on April 4th, 2017; and by Orbit in the UK on April 6th, 2017.

Also on CR: Reviews of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry AugustTouchThe Gameshouse TrilogyThe Sudden Appearance of Hope

Review copy received from publisher

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pypera-onlychildusAndrew Pyper, THE ONLY CHILD (Simon & Schuster)

What if you learned your father wasn’t who you thought he was? What if you learned you carried secrets deep within your blood? 

Dr. Lily Dominick has seen her share of bizarre cases as a forensic psychiatrist working with some of New York’s most dangerous psychotic criminals. But nothing can prepare Lily for her newest patient.

Client 46874-A is nameless. He insists that he is not human, and believes that he was not born, but created over two hundred years ago. As Lily listens to this man describe the twisted crime he’s committed, she can’t shake the feeling that he’s come for her — especially once he reveals something she would have thought impossible: He knew her mother.

Lily was only six years old when her mother was violently killed in what investigators concluded was a bear attack. But even though she was there, even though she saw it, Lily has never been certain of what really happened that night. Now, this stranger may hold the answers to the questions she’s buried deep within herself all her life. That’s when he escapes.

To discover the truth — behind her client, her mother’s death, herself — Lily must embark on a journey to find him that will threaten her career, her sanity, and ultimately her life.

Fusing relentless suspense with surprising emotion, The Only Child is a psychological thriller about family, identity and monstrosity that will keep you up until its last unforgettable revelation.

I have somehow managed to still not read anything by Pyper. True, I don’t read a lot of horror as it is, but I have heard nothing but good things about Pyper. His latest, The Only Child, is due to be published in North America by Simon & Schuster and in the UK by Orion, in June 2017.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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reynoldsj-fabiusbile1-primogenitorJoshua Reynolds, FABIUS BILE: PRIMOGENITOR (Black Library)

He is known by many names — Clonelord, Manflayer, Primogenitor. He is the epitome of deceit and perversion, and feared by man and monster alike. Once the Chief Apothecary of the Emperor’s Children, the madman known as Fabius Bile possesses a knowledge of genetic manipulation second to none.

Now a renegade among renegades, he is loathed by those he once called brother, and even the most degraded of Chaos Space Marines fear his name. Exiled for his dark experiments, Bile has retreated deep into the Eye of Terror, leaving a trail of twisted abominations in his wake.

But when a former student brings word of the ultimate prize for the taking, Bile is unable to resist being drawn once more into the cauldron of war. For in seizing this prize, Fabius Bile might yet discover the one secret his has been unable to unlock… the secret which will prevent his inevitable doom.

I’m a big fan of Reynolds’s BL fiction, so when I heard he was going to be writing about Fabius Bile, my interest in the series skyrocketed. I bought the eBook, but a couple of weeks later, I received a review copy of the limited edition from the publisher — it’s a stunning thing, really. I started reading the eBook pretty soon after it arrived, and blitzed through it — this is entertaining, fast-paced science fiction (full review link below). It mixes the best of classic sci-fi adventure fiction with the best of modern WH40k. Published by Black Library, it’s out now (also available through the UK Kindle store).

Also on CR: Reviews of End Times: The Return of NagashEnd Times: The Lord of the End TimesFabius Bile: Primogenitor

Review copy received from publisher

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rindells-threemartinilunchukSuzanne Rindell, THREE-MARTINI LUNCH (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

New York, 1958. Cliff Nelson, the privileged son of a New York publisher, is slumming it around Greenwich Village, enjoying booze, drugs and the idea that he’s the next Jack Kerouac. Fresh-faced Eden Katz arrives in the city with one burning ambition, but she is shocked at the stumbling blocks she encounters. Miles Tillman, a publisher’s messenger boy, is an aspiring writer who straddles various worlds and belongs to none.

Their choices, betrayals and passions will draw them together and change their lives for ever. 

Stumbled across this one in a Toronto second hand bookstore, decided to pick it up. I never got around to reading Rindell’s previous novel, The Other Typist, but this one sounded pretty interesting (it’s about publishing!). Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in Canada and the US, Allison & Busby in the UK (cover above, because I like it better than the North American cover).

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robinsonks-newyork2140Kim Stanley Robinson, NEW YORK 2140 (Orbit)

The waters rose, submerging New York City. 

But the residents adapted and it remained the bustling, vibrant metropolis it had always been. Though changed forever. 

Every street became a canal. Every skyscraper an island. 

Through the eyes of the varied inhabitants of one building Kim Stanley Robinson shows us how one of our great cities will change with the rising tides. 

And how we too will change.

One of my most-anticipated novels of 2017. Published by Orbit Books on March 14th (US) and 16th (UK), 2017.

Review copy received from publisher

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saviles-parallellinesusSteven Savile, PARALLEL LINES (Titan)

How far would you go to provide for your child?

Adam Shaw is dying, and knows he’ll leave his disabled son with nothing. His solution? Rob a bank. It’s no surprise that things go wrong. What is surprising is that when another customer is accidentally shot, no one in the bank is in a hurry to hand Adam over to the police. There’s the manager who’s desperate to avoid an audit, the security guard with a serious grudge against the dead man, and the woman who knows exactly how bad the victim really was…

Eight people, twelve hours, one chance to cover up a murder. But it’s not just the police they have to fool. When many lives intersect, the results can be explosive.

Could be interesting. Published by Titan Books on March 14th, 2017 (in the US and UK).

Review copy received from publisher

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PrintNorman Spinrad, THE PEOPLE’S POLICE (Tor Books)

Martin Luther Martin is a hard-working New Orleans cop, who has come up from the gangland of Alligator Swamp through hard work. When he has to serve his own eviction notice, he decides he’s had enough and agrees to spearhead a police strike.

Brothel owner and entrepreneur J. B. Lafitte also finds himself in a tight spot when his whorehouse in the Garden District goes into foreclosure. Those same Fat Cats responsible for the real estate collapse after Katrina didn’t differentiate between social strata or vocation.

MaryLou Boudreau, aka Mama Legba, is a television star and voodoo queen — with a difference. The loa really do ride and speak through her.

These three, disparate people are pulled together by a single moment in the television studio when Martin, hoping for publicity and support from the people against the banks, corporate fat cats, and corrupt politicians. But no one expects Papa Legba himself to answer, and his question changes everything.

“What do you offer?”

This sounds like it could be really interesting. Published by Tor Books in March 2017, it’ll be available in the UK as well.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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thofti-fl3-brutalityusIngrid Thoft, BRUTALITY (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

Fina Ludlow isn’t looking for a case independent of Ludlow and Associates, her family’s personal-injury law firm, but when Liz Barone is attacked in her kitchen, Fina sees a golden opportunity. A former college soccer star at New England University, Liz has experienced a serious cognitive decline that soured the memories of her athletic glory days, and she is determined to hold someone responsible. Fina considers this an entrée into the burgeoning world of sports-injury litigation, and if her freelance work annoys her father? All the better.

Lots of people have a stake in the trouble Liz is stirring up, and the more Fina digs, the more she learns that the case transcends sports. Was Liz attacked to stop her lawsuit, or were there dangerous secrets in the seemingly innocent woman’s life? Where is the line between toughness and savagery? What is the price, and ultimately, who pays it?

Fina discovers that wading into the financially lucrative and emotionally charged world of collegiate sports requires nerves of steel. As the list of suspects grows and hidden agendas are revealed, she navigates the rough waters of conflicting values and beloved traditions and begins to wonder: Is any game worth the price?

Spotted this in Indigo in Toronto, thought it sounded good, and picked it up. It’s the third book in the Fina Ludlow series, following Loyalty and Identity. Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in North America, and available in the UK also via G.P. Putnam’s Sons. The fourth novel in the series, Duplicity is due out later this month.

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walkert-smokeovermalibuukTim Walker, SMOKE OVER MALIBU (William Heinemann)

The Hon. Lucius Kluge – honourable, lucky, clever – might be the only guy in Los Angeles who’s still living in the past.

Lucky pines for the old days of the New Hollywood, before Star Wars and superheroes blew up the movies for good. He spends his days working for an antiques business, his nights boozing and brooding on his former life as an almost-successful screenwriter.

But when his ex-best friend goes AWOL and his elderly boss is assaulted during the theft of a vintage cookie jar, Lucky and his partner Raul are spurred reluctantly into something like action.

A satire of sundered friendships and frayed male egos at the Hollywood intersection of art and commerce, Smoke Over Malibu is a soft-boiled mystery, a fish-out-of-water farce, a buddy comedy, an inaction thriller, a hipster indie. It’s Raymond Chandler meets Nick Hornby; it’s The Big Lebowski meets Lovejoy. It is absolutely, positively not a superhero blockbuster.

This sounds really interesting. Looking forward to reading it. Published in the UK by William Heinemann, on January 26th, 2017.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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wellsa-hungermakesthewolfAlex Wells, HUNGER MAKES THE WOLF (Angry Robot)

The strange planet known as Tanegawa’s World is owned by TransRifts Inc, the company with the absolute monopoly on interstellar travel. Hob landed there ten years ago, a penniless orphan left behind by a rift ship. She was taken in by Nick Ravani and quickly became a member of his mercenary biker troop, the Ghost Wolves.

Ten years later, she discovers that the body of Nick’s brother out in the dunes. Worse, his daughter is missing, taken by shady beings called the Weathermen. But there are greater mysteries to be discovered – both about Hob and the strange planet she calls home.

Sounds like it could be fun/interesting. Published by Angry Robot Books in the UK and US, in March 2017.

Review copy received via NetGalley

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williamsj-wf1-ninthrainukJen Williams, THE NINTH RAIN (Headline)

The great city of Ebora once glittered with gold. Now its streets are stalked by wolves. Tormalin the Oathless has no taste for sitting around waiting to die while the realm of his storied ancestors falls to pieces — talk about a guilt trip. Better to be amongst the living, where there are taverns full of women and wine.

When eccentric explorer, Lady Vincenza ‘Vintage’ de Grazon, offers him employment, he sees an easy way out. Even when they are joined by a fugitive witch with a tendency to set things on fire, the prospect of facing down monsters and retrieving ancient artefacts is preferable to the abomination he left behind.

But not everyone is willing to let the Eboran empire collapse, and the adventurers are quickly drawn into a tangled conspiracy of magic and war. For the Jure’lia are coming, and the Ninth Rain must fall…

This is the first in Williams’s new series, The Winnowing Flame. Looks interesting. Williams’s debut series, Copper Cat, was very popular, so it’ll be interesting to see how this new series shapes up. Due to be published in the UK by Headline, on February 23rd, 2017.

Also on CR: Interview with Jen Williams (2014); Guest Posts on Watership Down, or the Film that Made Me” and “Magic & its Masters”

Review copy received from publisher

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zinomanj-lettermanJason Zinoman, LETTERMAN (Harper)

The definitive story of the life and artistic legacy of David Letterman, the greatest television talk show host of all time and the signature comedic voice of a generation.

In a career spanning more than thirty years, David Letterman redefined the modern talk show with an ironic comic style that transcended traditional television. While he remains one of the most famous stars in America, he is a remote, even reclusive, figure whose career is widely misunderstood. In Letterman, Jason Zinoman, the first comedy critic in the history of the New York Times, mixes groundbreaking reporting with unprecedented access and probing critical analysis to explain the unique entertainer’s titanic legacy. Moving from his early days in Indiana to his retirement, Zinoman goes behind the scenes of Letterman’s television career to illuminate the origins of his revolutionary comedy, its overlooked influences, and how his work intersects with and reveals his famously eccentric personality. 

Zinoman argues that Letterman had three great artistic periods, each distinct and part of his evolution. As he examines key broadcasting moments — “Stupid Pet Tricks” and other captivating segments that defined Late Night with David Letterman — he illuminates Letterman’s relationship to his writers, and in particular, the show’s co-creator, Merrill Markoe, with whom Letterman shared a long professional and personal connection.

To understand popular culture today, it’s necessary to understand David Letterman. With this revealing biography, Zinoman offers a perceptive analysis of the man and the artist whose ironic voice and caustic meta-humor was critical to an entire generation of comedians and viewers — and whose singular style ushered in new tropes that have become clichés in comedy today.

I’m not the world’s biggest Letterman fan, but I am very interested in comedy and the entertainment industry as a whole. Therefore, any book about Letterman, a giant of the American late night comedy circuit for so many years, should be of interest. Published by Harper in North America and the UK, in April 2017. (At the time of writing, the UK Kindle edition was surprisingly cheap, too…)

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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