New Books (August-September)


Featuring: Kate Atkinson, Lea Carpenter, Michael Chabon, Gerrard Cowan, Seth Dickinson, Eric Jay Dolin, K. A. Doore, Gardner Dozois, Sergiy Dyachenko, Maryna Shyrshova-Dyachenko, Robert Galbraith, Christopher Goffard, Anne Griffin, Brian Hart, Maria Hummel, Joe Ide, Jill Lepore, David Mack, Peter McLean, Kelsey Miller, Richard Morgan, Ian S. Port, David Priess, Christopher Priest, Philip Pullman, Steven Savile, Jeremy C. Shipp, Erin Somers, Gerry Spence


AtkinsonK-TranscriptionCAKate Atkinson, TRANSCRIPTION (Doubleday Canada)

A novel that explores the repercussions of one young woman’s espionage work during World War II.

Juliet Armstrong is a dissatisfied radio producer in a 1950s London that is recovering from the war as much as she is. During World War Two, Juliet was conscripted into service, transcribing conversations between an MI5 agent and a ring of suspected German sympathizers. The seemingly dull work quickly plunged Juliet into a treacherous world of code words and secret meetings where Juliet herself was sent into the field. These moments of intrigue and romance feel like a lifetime ago as Juliet trudges through her commute, her job and her new life. But as Juliet and the rest of London find ways to return to normal, her routine is upended by an encounter with a mysterious man from her past life.

Haunted by the relationships and actions of her past and facing a very real threat in the present, Juliet cannot escape the repercussions of her work for the government. With no other choice, Juliet is quickly pulled back into the life of espionage she thought she’d left behind. Kate Atkinson’s latest novel brings mid-century London to life in a gripping tale of deception and consequences.

The latest novel from the best-selling author of Life After Life and many others. This sounds fascinating, and I’ll be reading it very soon. Transcription is published by Doubleday in Canada and the UK, and Little, Brown in the US.

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CarpenterL-RedWhiteBlueUSLea Carpenter, RED, WHITE, BLUE (Knopf)

A dark, powerful, and subtly crafted novel that traces the intertwined fates of a CIA case officer and a young woman who is forced to confront her dead father’s secret past — at once a gripping, immersive tale of duplicity and espionage, and a moving story of love and loyalty.

Anna is the beloved only child of the charismatic Noel, a New York City banker — and a mother who abandoned her. When Noel dies in a mysterious skiing accident in Switzerland the day before his daughter’s wedding, Anna, consumed by grief, grows increasingly distant from her prominent music-producing husband, who begins running for office. One day, while on her honeymoon in the south of France, Anna meets an enigmatic stranger who will cause perhaps even greater upheaval in her life. It will soon become clear that this meeting was no chance encounter: this man once worked with Anna’s father and has information about parts of Noel’s life that Anna never knew. When she arrives back in New York, she receives a parcel that contains a series of cryptic recordings and videos showing Noel at the center of a brutal interrogation. Soon, everything Anna knows about her father’s life — and his death — is called into question, launching her into a desperate search for the truth.

Smart, fast-moving, and suspenseful, Red, White, Blue plunges us into the inner workings of the CIA, a China Ops gone wrong, and the consequences of a collision between one’s deepest personal ties and the most exacting and fateful professional commitment.

I remember seeing this in a catalogue quite some time ago, and making a mental note to check it out when it was finally released. I promptly forgot about it (as I am wont to do). Now it’s out, and I started reading it pretty soon after I got it. It’s a strange book. Very interesting, and adjacent to my own areas of interest and expertise (US-China relations, only with a heavy CIA component, which is outside my expertise, but very much within my interest). It’s presented in a very choppy style which, while very well written, made it a little difficult to get swept away. I’ll persevere. Red, White, Blue is published in North America by Knopf. (I couldn’t find any information about a UK publisher, but Carpenter’s previous novel, Eleven Days, was published there by Two Roads — maybe they’ll pick this one up, too.)

Follow the Author: Goodreads


ChabonM-BookEndsUSMichael Chabon, BOOKENDS (Harper Perennial)

A brilliant, idiosyncratic collection of introductions and afterwords (plus some liner notes) by New York Times bestselling and Pulitzer Prize winning author Michael Chabon — “one of contemporary literature’s most gifted prose stylists” (Michiko Kakutani, New York Times).

In Bookends, Pulitzer Prize winning author Michael Chabon offers a compilation of pieces about literature — age-old classics as well as his own — that presents a unique look into his literary origins and influences, the books that shaped his taste and formed his ideas about writing and reading.

Chabon asks why anyone would write an introduction, or for that matter, read one. His own daughter Rose prefers to skip them. Chabon’s answer is simple and simultaneously profound: “a hope of bringing pleasure for the reader.” Likewise, afterwords — they are all about shared pleasure, about the “pure love” of a work of art that has inspired, awakened, transformed the reader. Ultimately, this thought-provoking compendium is a series of love letters and thank-you notes, unified by the simple theme of the shared pleasure of discovery, whether it’s the boyhood revelation of the most important story in Chabon’s life (Ray Bradbury’s “The Rocket Man”); a celebration of “the greatest literary cartographer of the planet Mars” (Edgar Rice Burroughs, with his character John Carter); a reintroduction to a forgotten master of ghost stories (M. R. James, ironically “the happiest of men”); the recognition that the worlds of Wes Anderson’s films are reassembled scale models of our own broken reality (as is all art); Chabon’s own rude awakening from the muse as he writes his debut novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh; or a playful parody of lyrical interpretation in the liner notes for Mark Ronson’s Uptown Special, the true purpose of which, Chabon insists, is to “spread the gospel of sensible automotive safety and maintenance practices.”

Galaxies away from academic or didactic, Bookends celebrates wonder — and like the copy of The Phantom Tollbooth handed to young Michael by a friend of his father he never saw again — it is a treasured gift.

A new book by Chabon is something to celebrate. This one is another collection of his short writings — following Pops, a collection about fatherhood. Bookends is due to be published in January 2019 by Harper Perennial in North America and in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Review copy received via Edelweiss


CowanG-M3-MemoryGerrard Cowan, THE MEMORY (Voyager)

The time of Ruin has come.

The meaning of the Prophecy is becoming clear at last: if Ruin cannot be stopped, all of memory will transform into nightmare.

In the tunnels of the Underland, a place of phantoms, monsters, and creatures of god-like power, Aranfal and Brandione are drawn into the game to end all games – a desperate search for the very first memory – while Canning and Drayn grapple with both ancient adversaries and their own abilities.

Hunting for a way to destroy Ruin, Brightling journeys into the heart of the Machinery. As she descends, though, she discovers that Ruin is already more powerful than anyone could have imagined.

The future – and the past – of the Overland will be reshaped as Gerrard Cowan’s mesmerizing epic of power, magic, and memory reaches its finale.

This is the third novel in Cowan’s Machinery Trilogy. I haven’t had the chance to read the other two novels, but I do have them. It sounds pretty interesting. The Memory is out now, published by Voyager in North America and in the UK.

Also on CR: Guest Posts on “Building a World on One Idea” and “On Writing and Completing a Trilogy”

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Review copy received from the author


DickinsonS-M2-MonsterBaruCormorantUSSeth Dickinson, THE MONSTER BARU CORMORANT (Tor)

Her world was shattered by the Empire of Masks.

For the power to shatter the Masquerade,

She betrayed everyone she loved.

The traitor Baru Cormorant is now the cryptarch Agonist — a secret lord of the empire she’s vowed to destroy.

Hunted by a mutinous admiral, haunted by the wound which has split her mind in two, Baru leads her dearest foes on an expedition for the secret of immortality. It’s her chance to trigger a war that will consume the Masquerade.

But Baru’s heart is broken, and she fears she can no longer tell justice from revenge… or her own desires from the will of the man who remade her.

The highly-anticipated sequel to The Traitor Baru Cormorant. I haven’t actually read the first book, yet, but I’ve heard pretty much only good or great things about the series. I’ll have to get to it ASAP. The Monster Baru Cormorant is due to be published by Tor Books, on October 30th (not sure about UK publication, but the first book was published by Tor UK, too).

Also on CR: Interview with Seth Dickinson (2015)

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Review copy received via NetGalley


DolinEJ-BlackFlagsBlueWatersEric Jay Dolin, BLACK FLAGS, BLUE WATERS (Liveright)

With surprising tales of vicious mutineers, imperial riches, and high-seas intrigue, Black Flags, Blue Waters vividly reanimates the “Golden Age” of piracy in the Americas.

Set against the backdrop of the Age of Exploration, Black Flags, Blue Watersreveals the dramatic and surprising history of American piracy’s “Golden Age” — spanning the late 1600s through the early 1700s — when lawless pirates plied the coastal waters of North America and beyond. Best-selling author Eric Jay Dolin illustrates how American colonists at first supported these outrageous pirates in an early display of solidarity against the Crown, and then violently opposed them. Through engrossing episodes of roguish glamour and extreme brutality, Dolin depicts the star pirates of this period, among them towering Blackbeard, ill-fated Captain Kidd, and sadistic Edward Low, who delighted in torturing his prey. Also brilliantly detailed are the pirates’ manifold enemies, including colonial governor John Winthrop, evangelist Cotton Mather, and young Benjamin Franklin. Upending popular misconceptions and cartoonish stereotypes, Dolin provides this wholly original account of the seafaring outlaws whose raids reflect the precarious nature of American colonial life.

The latest book by the author of one of my favourite history books, When America First Met China. I’ve been looking forward to this ever since it was announced, and I hope to read it very soon. Black Flags, Blue Waters is out now, published by Liveright in North America and in the UK.

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DooreKA-CoG1-PerfectAssassinUSK.A. Doore, THE PERFECT ASSASSIN (Tor)

A novice assassin is on the hunt for someone killing their own…

The assassins of Ghadid serve a higher power, dispensing justice in the shadows. Or so Amastan has been taught.

Until, unexpectedly, Amastan finds the body of a very important drum chief. Until, impossibly, fellow assassins are being killed off. Until, inevitably, Amastan is ordered to solve these murders. Even worse, the jaan of the murdered start roaming the dusty streets of Ghadid, restless spirits seeking any body to possess.

Time is running short, and Amastan must find this perfect assassin or become their next target.

This is the first novel in the Chronicles of Ghadid, and it sounds really interesting. Always intrigued by new fantasy assassin series — there are so many of them, but when they’re done well, they’re invariably highly entertaining and readable. (See, for example, Brent Weeks’s Night Angel series.) The Perfect Assassin is due to be published by Tor Books in North America and in the UK, on March 19th, 2019.

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Review copy received via NetGalley


DozoisG-BookOfMagicUSGardner Dozois (ed.), THE BOOK OF MAGIC (Bantam)

A new anthology celebrating the witches and sorcerers of epic fantasy…

Hot on the heels of Gardner Dozois’s acclaimed anthology The Book of Swordscomes this companion volume devoted to magic. How could it be otherwise? For every Frodo, there is a Gandalf… and a Saruman. For every Dorothy, a Glinda… and a Wicked Witch of the West. What would Harry Potter be without Albus Dumbledore… and Severus Snape? Figures of wisdom and power, possessing arcane, often forbidden knowledge, wizards and sorcerers are shaped — or misshaped — by the potent magic they seek to wield. Yet though their abilities may be godlike, these men and women remain human — some might say all too human. Such is their curse. And their glory.

In these pages, seventeen of today’s top fantasy writers — including award-winners Elizabeth Bear, John Crowley, Kate Elliott, K. J. Parker, Tim Powers, and Liz Williams — cast wondrous spells that thrillingly evoke the mysterious, awesome, and at times downright terrifying worlds where magic reigns supreme: worlds as far away as forever, and as near as next door.

Gardner Dozois’s latest (and final) anthology of fantasy short fiction. The acclaimed editor of sci-fi and fantasy fiction sadly passed away earlier this year. The Book of Magic is due to be published by Bantam in North America (October 16th) and Voyager in the UK (October 18th).

Review copy received from publisher


DyachenkoM&S-VitaNostraUSSergiy Dyachenko & Maryna Shyrshova-Dyachenko, VITA NOSTRA (Voyager)

Our life is brief…

While vacationing at the beach with her mother, Sasha Samokhina meets the mysterious Farit Kozhennikov under the most peculiar circumstances. The teenage girl is powerless to refuse when this strange and unusual man with an air of the sinister directs her to perform a task with potentially scandalous consequences. He rewards her effort with a strange golden coin.

As the days progress, Sasha carries out other acts for which she receives more coins from Kozhennikov. As summer ends, her domineering mentor directs her to move to a remote village and use her gold to enter the Institute of Special Technologies. Though she does not want to go to this unknown town or school, she also feels it’s the only place she should be. Against her mother’s wishes, Sasha leaves behind all that is familiar and begins her education.

As she quickly discovers, the institute’s “special technologies” are unlike anything she has ever encountered. The books are impossible to read, the lessons obscure to the point of maddening, and the work refuses memorization. Using terror and coercion to keep the students in line, the school does not punish them for their transgressions and failures; instead, their families pay a terrible price. Yet despite her fear, Sasha undergoes changes that defy the dictates of matter and time; experiences which are nothing she has ever dreamed of… and suddenly all she could ever want.

On November 13th, Voyager will release the “definitive English language translation” of Vita Nostra, a dark fantasy novel that Lev Grossman has said has “the potential to be a modern classic”. High praise indeed, from one of my favourite authors. I’m really looking forward to giving this a read. The novel is due to be published by Voyager in both North America and in the UK.

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GalbraithR-CS4-LethalWhiteRobert Galbraith, LETHAL WHITE (Mulholland)

“I seen a kid killed…He strangled it, up by the horse.”

When Billy, a troubled young man, comes to private eye Cormoran Strike’s office to ask for his help investigating a crime he thinks he witnessed as a child, Strike is left deeply unsettled. While Billy is obviously mentally distressed, and cannot remember many concrete details, there is something sincere about him and his story. But before Strike can question him further, Billy bolts from his office in a panic.

Trying to get to the bottom of Billy’s story, Strike and Robin Ellacott-once his assistant, now a partner in the agency-set off on a twisting trail that leads them through the backstreets of London, into a secretive inner sanctum within Parliament, and to a beautiful but sinister manor house deep in the countryside.

And during this labyrinthine investigation, Strike’s own life is far from straightforward: his newfound fame as a private eye means he can no longer operate behind the scenes as he once did. Plus, his relationship with his former assistant is more fraught than it ever has been-Robin is now invaluable to Strike in the business, but their personal relationship is much, much trickier than that.

The highly-anticipated fourth novel in Galbraith/Rowling’s Cormoran Strike crime/mystery series. I really enjoyed the first three novels, so of course I snapped this up as soon as I could. Lethal White is out now, published by Mulholland Books in North America and Sphere in the UK.

Also on CR: Reviews of The Cuckoo’s CallingThe Silkworm and Career of Evil

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GoffardC-DirtyJohnAndOtherTrueStoriesUSChristopher Goffard, DIRTY JOHN AND OTHER TRUE STORIES OF OUTLAWS AND OUTSIDERS (Simon & Schuster)

Since its release in fall 2017, the “Dirty John” podcast — about a conman who terrorizes a Southern California family — has been downloaded more than 20 million times, and will soon premiere as a scripted drama on Bravo starring Connie Britton and Eric Bana. The story, which also ran as a print series in the Los Angeles Times, wasn’t unfamiliar terrain to its writer, Christopher Goffard. Over two decades at newspapers from Florida to California, Goffard has reported probingly on the shadowy, unseen corners of society. This book gathers together for the first time “Dirty John” and the rest of his very best work.

“The $40 Lawyer” provides an inside account of a young public defender’s rookie year in the legal trenches. “Framed” offers an unblinking chronicle of suburban mayhem (and is currently being developed by Netflix as a film starring Julia Roberts). A man wrongly imprisoned for rape, train-riding runaways in love, a Syrian mother forced to leave her children in order to save them, a boy who grows up to become a cop as a way of honoring his murdered sister, another boy who struggles with the knowledge that his father is on death row: these stories reveal the complexities of human nature, showing people at both their most courageous and their most villainous.

Goffard shared in the Los Angeles Times’ Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2011 and has twice been a Pulitzer finalist for feature writing. This collection — a must-read for fans of both true-crime and first-rate narrative non-fiction — underscores his reputation as one of today’s most original journalistic voices.

This sounds really interesting. Hope to read it very soon. Dirty John… is due to be published by Simon & Schuster in North America and in the UK in November 2018.

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Review copy received via Edelweiss


GriffinA-WhenAllIsSaidUSAnne Griffin, WHEN ALL IS SAID (St. Martin’s Press)

A tale of a single night. The story of a lifetime.

If you had to pick five people to sum up your life, who would they be? If you were to raise a glass to each of them, what would you say? And what would you learn about yourself, when all is said and done?

This is the story of Maurice Hannigan, who, over the course of a Saturday night in June, orders five different drinks at the Rainford House Hotel. With each he toasts a person vital to him: his doomed older brother, his troubled sister-in-law, his daughter of fifteen minutes, his son far off in America, and his late, lamented wife. And through these people, the ones who left him behind, he tells the story of his own life, with all its regrets and feuds, loves and triumphs.

Thought this sounded interesting, and it’s getting some good buzz pre-publication. Looking forward to giving it a try. (I’ll save the review for closer to release date.) When All is Said is due to be published by St. Martin’s Press in North America (March 5th, 2019), and Sceptre in the UK (January 24th, 2019).

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Review copy received via NetGalley


HartB-TroubleNoManUSBrian Hart, TROUBLE NO MAN (Harper Perennial)

In the America of a near future, northern California and the Pacific Northwest have become a desolate wasteland controlled by violent separatist militias and marked by a lack of water and fuel. In a village outside Reno, a middle-aged man visits an undertaker and gathers the ashes of his dead wife to bring to Alaska. There, their children await them — refugees from the destruction of the south. To reach his only remaining family, the man must cross the treacherous, violent landscape north by bike, his dog his only companion.

Thirty years earlier, we meet Roy Bingham. After a rough-and-tumble childhood, Roy is numbing himself with skateboarding, drugs, and sex, when he meets Karen. Sassy, soulful, and arresting, Karen pulls Roy into her orbit until she decides to give up their nomadic lifestyle to put down roots in her hometown of Loyalton, California. Roy’s fidelity buckles under the commitment and after a boozy night in Reno he leaves Karen for the road and skateboarding.

Flashing back and forth in time across four decades in the life of a man who is lost even when he’s found, Trouble No Man delivers a resonant story of survival, violence, and family, set against the tumult of an America on the precipice of becoming an unfree nation.

Described as “American War meets Into the Wild“, this sounds great. I haven’t read anything by Hart before, but I’m very much looking forward to reading this novel. Due to be published by Harper Perennial on January 29th, 2019. I think I’ll be reading this very soon, but I’ll hold off until maybe December to post a review.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Review copy received via Edelweiss


HummelM-StillLivesMaria Hummel, STILL LIVES (Counterpoint)

Kim Lord is an avant-garde figure, feminist icon, and agent provocateur in the L.A. art scene. Her groundbreaking new exhibition Still Lives is comprised of self-portraits depicting herself as famous, murdered women — the Black Dahlia, Chandra Levy, Nicole Brown Simpson, among many others — and the works are as compelling as they are disturbing, implicating a culture that is too accustomed to violence against women.

As the city’s richest art patrons pour into the Rocque Museum’s opening night, all the staff, including editor Maggie Richter, hope the event will be enough to save the historic institution’s flailing finances.

Except Kim Lord never shows up to her own gala.

Fear mounts as the hours and days drag on and Lord remains missing. Suspicion falls on the up-and-coming gallerist Greg Shaw Ferguson, who happens to be Maggie’s ex. A rogue’s gallery of eccentric art world figures could also have motive for the act, and as Maggie gets drawn into her own investigation of Lord’s disappearance, she’ll come to suspect all of those closest to her.

Set against a culture that often fetishizes violence, Still Lives is a page-turning exodus into the art world’s hall of mirrors, and one woman’s journey into the belly of an industry flooded with money and secrets. 

Since it was selected by Reese Witherspoon for her book club, this novel has understandably become a Very Big Deal. It does, also, sound really interesting and very much the kind of Los Angeles mystery I like. I’ll be reading this very soon. Still Lives is published in North America by Counterpoint (out now), and Quercus in the UK (October 8th).

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IdeJ-IQ3-WreckedUSJoe Ide, WRECKED (Mulholland)

Isaiah Quintabe — IQ for short — has never been more successful, or felt more alone. A series of high-profile wins in his hometown of East Long Beach have made him so notorious that he can hardly go to the corner store without being recognized. Dodson, once his sidekick, is now his full-fledged partner, hell-bent on giving IQ’s PI business some real legitimacy: a Facebook page, and IQ’s promise to stop accepting Christmas sweaters and carpet cleanings in exchange for PI services.

So when a young painter approaches IQ for help tracking down her missing mother, it’s not just the case Isaiah’s looking for, but the human connection. And when his new confidant turns out to be connected to a dangerous paramilitary operation, IQ falls victim to a threat even a genius can’t see coming.

Waiting for Isaiah around every corner is Seb, the Oxford-educated African gangster who was responsible for the death of his brother, Marcus. Only, this time, Isaiah’s not alone. Joined by a new love interest and his familiar band of accomplices, IQ is back — and the adventures are better than ever.

The third novel in Ide’s critically-acclaimed, award-winning IQ series of Los Angeles-based crime mysteries. Wrecked is due to be published by Mulholland Books in North America (October 9th) and W&N in the UK (October 11th).

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Review copy received via NetGalley


LeporeJ-TheseTruthsUSHCJill Lepore, THESE TRUTHS (W.W. Norton)

A magisterial account of the origins and rise of a divided nation, an urgently needed reckoning with the beauty and tragedy of American history.

Written in elegiac prose, Lepore’s groundbreaking investigation places truth itself — a devotion to facts, proof, and evidence — at the center of the nation’s history. The American experiment rests on three ideas — “these truths,” Jefferson called them — political equality, natural rights, and the sovereignty of the people. And it rests, too, on a fearless dedication to inquiry, Lepore argues, because self-government depends on it. But has the nation, and democracy itself, delivered on that promise?

These Truths tells this uniquely American story, beginning in 1492, asking whether the course of events over more than five centuries has proven the nation’s truths, or belied them. To answer that question, Lepore traces the intertwined histories of American politics, law, journalism, and technology, from the colonial town meeting to the nineteenth-century party machine, from talk radio to twenty-first-century Internet polls, from Magna Carta to the Patriot Act, from the printing press to Facebook News.

Along the way, Lepore’s sovereign chronicle is filled with arresting sketches of both well-known and lesser-known Americans, from a parade of presidents and a rogues’ gallery of political mischief makers to the intrepid leaders of protest movements, including Frederick Douglass, the famed abolitionist orator; William Jennings Bryan, the three-time presidential candidate and ultimately tragic populist; Pauli Murray, the visionary civil rights strategist; and Phyllis Schlafly, the uncredited architect of modern conservatism.

Americans are descended from slaves and slave owners, from conquerors and the conquered, from immigrants and from people who have fought to end immigration. “A nation born in contradiction will fight forever over the meaning of its history,” Lepore writes, but engaging in that struggle by studying the past is part of the work of citizenship. “The past is an inheritance, a gift and a burden,” These Truths observes. “It can’t be shirked. There’s nothing for it but to get to know it.”

The latest book from one of my favourite American historians! These Truths is an ambitious single-volume history of the United States, and I’m really looking forward to reading it. (Given that it’s huge, I may hold off until November/December, when my schedule is less hectic.) These Truths is out now, published by W.W. Norton in North America and in the UK.

Follow the Author: Goodreads


MackD-2-IronCodexUSDavid Mack, THE IRON CODEX (Tor)

The wizards of World War II become the sorcerers of the Cold War…

1954: Cade Martin, hero of the Midnight Front during the war, has been going rogue without warning or explanation, and his mysterious absences are making his MI-6 handlers suspicious. In the United States, Briet Segfrunsdóttir serves as the master karcist of the Pentagon’s top-secret magickal warfare program. And In South America, Anja Kernova hunts fugitive Nazi sorcerers with the help of a powerful magickal tome known as the Iron Codex.

In an ever-more dangerous world, a chance encounter sparks an international race to find Anja and steal the Iron Codex. The Vatican, Russians, Jewish Kabbalists, and shadowy players working all angles covet the Codex for the power it promises whoever wields it.

As the dominoes start to fall, and one betrayal follows another, Anja goes on the run, hunted by friend and foe alike. The showdown brings our heroes to Bikini Atoll in March 1954: the Castle Bravo nuclear test.

But unknown to all of them, a secret magick cabal schemes to turn America and its western allies toward fascism — even if it takes decades…

The second novel in Mack’s Dark Arts series — mixing the supernatural into an alternative Cold War timeline (the first book, The Midnight Front, was set during WW2). I think these sound really good, and I’m looking forward to reading the two novels back-to-back, ASAP. The novel is due to be published by Tor Books in North America and in the UK, on January 15th, 2019.

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Review copy received via NetGalley


McLean-PriestOfBonesUKPeter McLean, PRIEST OF BONES (Ace)

The war is over, and army priest Tomas Piety heads home with Sergeant Bloody Anne at his side. But things have changed while he was away: his crime empire has been stolen and the people of Ellinburg — his people — have run out of food and hope and places to hide. Tomas sets out to reclaim what was his with help from Anne, his brother, Jochan, and his new gang: the Pious Men. But when he finds himself dragged into a web of political intrigue once again, everything gets more complicated.

As the Pious Men fight shadowy foreign infiltrators in the back-street taverns, brothels, and gambling dens of Tomas’s old life, it becomes clear:

The war is only just beginning.

This is the first novel in McLean’s new War for the Rose Throne fantasy series, and it is already generating a lot of pre-publication buzz from other authors and reviews alike. I’m really looking forward to reading this, so expect a review very soon. Priest of Bones is due to be published in North America by Ace Books, on October 2nd; and in the UK by Jo Fletcher Books, on October 4th.

Also on CR: Interview with Peter McLean (2015)

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher


MillerK-IllBeThereForYouUSKelsey Miller, I’LL BE THERE FOR YOU (Hanover Square Press)



Today, Friends is remembered as an icon of ’90s comedy and the Must See TV years. But when the series debuted in 1994, no one anticipated the sensation it would become. From the first wave of Friendsmania to the backlash and renaissance that followed, the show maintained an uncanny connection to its audience, who saw it both as a reflection of their own lives and an aspirational escape from reality. In the years since, Friends has evolved from prime-time megahit to nostalgic novelty, and finally, to certified classic. Ross, Rachel, Monica, Chandler, Joey and Phoebe have entered the pantheon of great television characters, and yet their stories remain relevant still.

I’ll Be There for You is a deep dive into Friends history and lore, exploring all aspects of the show, from its unlikely origins to the societal conditions that amplified its success. Journalist and pop culture expert Kelsey Miller relives the show’s most powerful moments, sheds light on its sometimes dated and problematic elements, and examines the worldwide trends that Friends catalyzed, from contemporary coffee culture to the wildly popular ’90s haircut The Rachel. Taking readers behind the scenes, Miller traces the cast’s rise to fame and untangles the complex relationship between the actors and their characters. Weaving in revelatory interviews and personal stories, she investigates the role of celebrity media, world-changing events and the dawning of the digital age — all of which influenced both the series and its viewers.

I’ll Be There for You is the definitive retrospective of Friends, not only for fans of the series, but for anyone who’s ever wondered what it is about this show — and television comedy — that resonates so powerfully.

I don’t think I could count the number of times I’ve watched the whole run of Friends, and who knows how many times I caught the odd episode on TV (when I was in the UK, I believe it was impossible to go a single day unable to find an episode running on at least one channel). I first heard about this book during a podcast interview Scott Feinberg did with Matt le Blanc (Joey) for Hollywood Reporter, and I’ve been looking forward to reading it ever since. I’ll Be There For You is due to be published by Hanover Square Press in North America and HQ in the UK. Review very soon, hopefully.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher


MorganR-ThinAirUKRichard Morgan, THIN AIR (Gollancz)

An atmospheric tale of corruption and abduction on Mars…

Richard Morgan has always been one of our most successful SF authors with his fast-moving and brutal storylines, blistering plots and a powerful social conscience behind his work.

And now he’s back, with his first SF novel for eight years… and it promises to be a publication to remember.

An ex-corporate enforcer, Hakan Veil, is forced to bodyguard Madison Madekwe, part of a colonial audit team investigating a disappeared lottery winner on Mars. But when Madekwe is abducted, and Hakan nearly killed, the investigation takes him farther and deeper than he had ever expected. And soon Hakan discovers the heavy price he may have to pay to learn the truth.

One of my most-anticipated novels of the year. I’ll be reading this very soon. Thin Air is due to be published in the UK by Gollancz (October 25th) and in North America by Del Rey (October 23rd).

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher


PortIS-BirthOfLoudUSIan S. Port, THE BIRTH OF LOUD (Scribner)

A riveting saga in the history of rock ‘n’ roll: the decades-long rivalry between the two men who innovated the electric guitar’s amplified sound — Leo Fender and Les Paul — and their intense competition to convince rock stars like the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and Eric Clapton to play the instruments they built.

In the years after World War II, music was evolving from big-band jazz into the primordial elements of rock ’n’ roll — and these louder styles demanded revolutionary instruments. When Leo Fender’s tiny firm marketed the first solid-body electric guitar, the Esquire, musicians immediately saw its appeal. Not to be out-maneuvered, Gibson, the largest guitar manufacturer, raced to build a competitive product. The company designed an “axe” that would make Fender’s Esquire look cheap and convinced Les Paul — whose endorsement Leo Fender had sought — to put his name on it. Thus was born the guitar world’s most heated rivalry: Gibson versus Fender, Les versus Leo.

While Fender was a quiet, half-blind, self-taught radio repairman from rural Orange County, Paul was a brilliant but egomaniacal pop star and guitarist who spent years toying with new musical technologies. Their contest turned into an arms race as the most inventive musicians of the 1950s and 1960s — including bluesman Muddy Waters, rocker Buddy Holly, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Eric Clapton — adopted one maker’s guitar or another. By the time Jimi Hendrix played “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Woodstock in 1969 on his Fender Stratocaster, it was clear that electric instruments — Fender or Gibson — had launched music into a radical new age, empowering artists with a vibrancy and volume never before attainable.

As a lover of all things rock ‘n’ roll and metal, the names “Fender” and “Gibson” have been in my life for decades. Really looking forward to reading this history of the rivalry between the two greatest guitar makers. The Birth of Loud is due to be published by Scribner in North America and in the UK, in January 2019.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received via Edelweiss


PriessD-HowToGetRidOfAPresidentUSDavid Priess, HOW TO GET RID OF A PRESIDENT (Public Affairs)

A vivid political history of the schemes, plots, political maneuvering, and conspiracies that have attempted — successfully and not — to remove unwanted presidents

To limit executive power, the Founding Fathers created fixed presidential terms of four years, giving voters regular opportunities to remove their leaders. Even so, Americans have often resorted to more dramatic paths to disempower the chief executive. The American presidency has seen it all, from rejecting a sitting president’s renomination bid and undermining their authority in office to the more drastic methods of impeachment, and, most brutal of all, assassination.

How To Get Rid of a President showcases the political dark arts in action: a stew of election dramas, national tragedies, and presidential departures mixed with party intrigue, political betrayal, and backroom maneuvers. This briskly paced, darkly humorous voyage proves that while the pomp and circumstance of presidential elections might draw more attention, the way that presidents are removed teaches us much more about our political order.

This book sounds interesting. I know there will be a lot of interest in this title from those who want to get rid of Trump (although, I’m not entirely convinced he’ll go before the end of his term), but this looks like it should appeal to all enthusiasts of US presidential history and process. How to Get Rid of a President is published by Public Affairs on November 13th, in North America and in the UK.

Follow the Author: Goodreads, Twitter


PriestC-AnAmericanStoryUKChristopher Priest, AMERICAN STORY (Gollancz)

A powerful meditation on loss and memory seen through the prism of 9/11, by one of our greatest authors.

Ben Matson lost someone he loved in the 9/11 attacks. Or thinks he did – no body has been recovered, and she shouldn’t have been on that particular plane at that time. But he knows she was.

The world has moved on from that terrible day. Nearly 20 years later, it has faded into a dull memory for most people. But a chance encounter rekindles Ben’s interest in the event, and the inconsistencies that always bothered him.

Then the announcement of the recovery of an unidentified plane crash sets off a chain of events that will lead Ben to question everything he thought he knew…

Thoughtful, impeccably researched and dazzling in its writing, this is Ben’s story, the story of what happened to his fiancé, and the story of all that happened on 9/11.

This sounds great. I’ll hopefully read this very soon. An American Story is out now, published by Gollancz in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Review copy received from publisher


PullmanP-DaemonVoicesUSPhilip Pullman, DAEMON VOICES (Knopf)

From the internationally best-selling author of the His Dark Materials trilogy, a spellbinding journey into the secrets of his art — the narratives that have shaped his vision, his experience of writing, and the keys to mastering the art of storytelling.

One of the most highly acclaimed and best-selling authors of our time now gives us a book that charts the history of his own enchantment with story — from his own books to those of Blake, Milton, Dickens, and the Brothers Grimm, among others — and delves into the role of story in education, religion, and science. At once personal and wide-ranging, Daemon Voices is both a revelation of the writing mind and the methods of a great contemporary master, and a fascinating exploration of storytelling itself.

I am always interested in reading (or hearing) about how writers and storytellers approach their craft, as well as their thoughts on storytelling in general. Perhaps it’s a facet of my fascinating in “behind-the-scenes” and enjoying learning about how things are made. Stephen King’s On Writing is the best I’ve read so far, but there have been many other great books and writing memoirs. Hopefully, this will be another great one. (Interestingly, I have never read anything by Pullman.) Daemon Voices is out now, published by Knopf in North America, and David Fickling Books in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter


SavileS-ColdfallWoodUSSteven Savile, COLDFALL WOOD (St. Martin’s Press)

Every legend promises the same thing: at the time of the land’s greatest need the heroes shall return. What they don’t mention is that we are the greatest threat our green and pleasant land has ever known, or that our obsession with concrete and steel, with technology and advancement, is slowly killing the land. In the legends saving the land never involves the slaughter of its inhabitants. Legends lie.

In the last primeval woodland of London an ancient force stirs, issuing the call.

His voice echoes in the minds of the disaffected and disenfranchised, the doomed youth of the city: Rise up!

In a single night, six girls who have never met and bear no relation to each other are struck down by a mysterious sickness that leaves them in persistent vegetative state. Across the city an old woman who hasn’t opened her eyes in years finally wakes. Her first words are: The Horned God is Awake. Soon the puzzling truth emerges. Each Sleeper’s final words were the same dire warning.

One for one. The message was seared into the floor, along with all of the craziness a hundred year old obsession had amassed. With the children disappearing across the city, two men are about to learn the terrible truth behind those three words. They are all that stand between our world and the cleansing fire of the once and future king. The question our heroes must answer: how do you kill a god the world has forgotten about?

I first came across Savile’s work in his Vampire Wars trilogy for Black Library, which I remember very much enjoying. Since then, he has published many more novels, including the best-seller Silver. I didn’t know anything about this one before it arrived in the mail, but it sounds interesting. Coldfall Wood is out now, published by St. Martin’s Press in North America and in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from the publisher


ShippJC-BedfellowJeremy C. Shipp, BEDFELLOW (

It broke into their home and set up residence in their minds.

When the… thing first insinuated itself into the Lund family household, they were bemused. Vaguely human-shaped, its constantly-changing cravings seemed disturbing, at first, but time and pressure have a way of normalizing the extreme. Wasn’t it always part of their lives?

As the family make more and greater sacrifices in service to the beast, the thrall that binds them begins to break down. Choices must be made. Prices must be paid. And the Lunds must pit their wits against a creature determined to never let them go.

It’s psychological warfare. Sanity is optional.

This is the latest novel from the Bram Stoker Award-nominated author of, among others, The Atrocities (also published by Bedfellow is due to be published by in North America and in the UK, on November 13th, 2018.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review copy received from publisher


SomersE-StayUpWithHugoBestUSErin Somers, STAY UP WITH HUGO BEST (Scribner)

An incredibly timely, terrifically witty and moving debut about a young writers’ assistant on a late night comedy show and what transpires when she accepts an invitation from its enigmatic host to spend a long weekend at his mansion in Connecticut.

June Bloom is a broke, cynical twenty-nine-year-old writers’ assistant on the late-night comedy show, Stay Up with Hugo Best. Hugo Best is in his sixties, a beloved icon of TV and humor, and a notorious womanizer. After he unexpectedly retires and a party is held for his now unemployed staff, June ends up at a dive bar for an open-mic night and prepares for the sad return to the anonymous comedian lifestyle. What she’s not prepared for is a run-in with Hugo at that dive bar. Nor for the invitation that swiftly follows: Hugo asks June to come to his mansion in Greenwich for the long Memorial Day weekend. “No funny business,” he insists.

June, in need of a job and money, confident she can handle herself, but secretly harboring the remains of a childhood crush on the charming older comedian and former role model, accepts. The exact terms of the visit are never spelled out, but June is realistic and clear-eyed enough to guess. Even so, as the weekend unfolds and the enigmatic Hugo gradually reveals himself, their dynamic proves to be much more complicated and less predictable than she expected.

At once hilarious and poignant, brilliantly incisive and terrifically propulsive, Stay Up with Hugo Best is an incredibly timely exploration of sexual politics in the #MeToo age, and the unforgettable story of one young woman’s poignant stumbling into adulthood.

Thought this sounded really interesting. Stay Up With Hugo Best is due to be published by Scribner in April 2019 (I’m going to be reading it in the next couple of weeks, hopefully, but I’ll hold off on posting the review until early next year).

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter


SpenceG-CourtOfLiesUSGerry Spence, COURT OF LIES (Forge)

An explosive courtroom thriller of murder, passion, and the twists and treachery of law and justice.

Lillian Adams is going on trial for the murder of her wealthy husband before Judge John Murray, to whom she has been like a daughter since childhood. Despite this long, shared history, both the prosecutor and defense attorney agree that Murray should sit on the case, and Murray himself knows he must. For he believes that if he steps down and another judge is appointed, there will be little hope for Lillian. The prosecutor is a sadistic psychopath who will pervert the law to convict Lillian and do everything in his power hurt Judge Murray. And Murray must save Lillian.

Gerry Spence takes readers through shocking twists and suspenseful courtroom scenes that only the great maestro of the courtroom himself could create. Court of Lies goes beyond being a great legal thriller. It questions the very basis of our legal system and its ability to discover the truth and deliver justice.

Hadn’t heard of Spence before I saw that this novel was on the way. He is apparently a very big deal in American law (apparently never losing a case in 50 years), so that bodes well for the novel’s verisimilitude. Looking forward to giving it a try. Court of Lies is due to be published by Forge Books on February 19th, 2019.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Review copy received via NetGalley

2 thoughts on “New Books (August-September)

  1. Great haul!
    I just read the new Strike book as well as Thin Air. And I’m very excited about the new IQ book; I’ve read the other ones. I received The Perfect Assassin too.
    I look forward to your thoughts.
    Happy Reading!

    Liked by 1 person

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