Featuring: Brian Cox, Zabé Ellor, Hugo Hamilton, Rachel Howzell Hall, Clay Harmon, Chris Herring, Justin D Hill, Gabino Iglesias, Maxim Jakubowski, Vaseem Khan, T. Kingfisher, Nick Kyme, Alex Livingston, Jillian Medoff, Jon Raymond, Matthew Reilly, Michael Schur, David Tallerman, Tade Thompson, Zac Topping, Jess Walter, Josh Weiss
Brian Cox, PUTTING THE RABBIT IN THE HAT (Hachette)
The incredible rags-to-riches story of acclaimed actor Brian Cox, best known as Succession’s Logan Roy, from a troubled, working-class upbringing in Scotland to a prolific career across theatre, film and television.
From Hannibal Lecktor in Manhunter to media magnate Logan Roy in HBO’s Succession, Brian Cox has made his name as an actor of unparalleled distinction and versatility. We are familiar with him on screen, but few know of his extraordinary life story. Growing up in Dundee, Scotland, Cox lost his father when he was just eight years old and was brought up by his three elder sisters in the aftermath of his mother’s nervous breakdowns and ultimate hospitalization. After joining the Dundee Repertory Theatre at the age of fifteen, you could say the rest is history — but that is to overlook the enormous effort that has gone into the making of the legend we know today.
Rich in emotion and meaning, with plenty of laughs along the way, this seminal autobiography captures both Cox’s distinctive voice and his very soul.
I’ve been a fan of Cox’s movies for years, so when I had the chance to read and review this, I jumped at the chance. Putting the Rabbit in the Hat is out now, published by Grand Central (print/eBook) and Hachette (audio) in North America and Quercus in the UK.
Zabé Ellor, SILK FIRE (Solaris)
Set in a planet-sized matriarchal city where magic and technology freely bleed together, a male courtesan’s quest for vengeance against his aristocrat father draws him into an ancient struggle between dragons, necromancers, and his home district’s violent history.
Koré knew that meddling in politics could end badly, particularly when trying to sabotage his aristocratic father’s campaign before it destroys the city he has come to love. And when a chance encounter with a dying god imbues him with magic-breathing powers, it gets worse: he suddenly becomes a commodity – and a political player.
But the corruption in his city runs deeper than just one man, and an ally’s betrayal unleashes an army of the dead on his home street. Koré must trust the world with his deepest secret to stand beside the woman and man he’s finally let himself love, as only the bright truth of dragon’s fire can break the iron fist of a necromancer’s hold.
Hadn’t heard of this before I got a review copy of it from the publisher. Could be interesting. Nice cover. Silk Fire is due to be published by Solaris in North America (July 5th) and in the UK (July 7th).
Hugo Hamilton, THE PAGES (Knopf)
An entirely original novel in which a book — Joseph Roth’s masterpiece Rebellion — narrates its own astonishing life story, from 1930s Germany to the present day, at the heart of a gripping mystery.
One old copy of the novel Rebellion sits in Lena Knecht’s tote bag, about to accompany her on a journey from New York to Berlin in search of a clue to the hand-drawn map on its last page. It is the brilliantly captivating voice of this novel — a first edition nearly burned by Nazis in May 1933 — that is our narrator.
Fast-paced and tightly plotted, The Pages brings together a multitude of dazzling characters, real and invented, in a sweeping story of survival, chance, and the joys and struggles of love. At its center are Roth, an Austrian Jewish author on the run, and his wife, Friederike, who falls victim to mental illness as Europe descends into war. With vivid evocations of Germany under Nazism and today, The Pages dramatically illuminates the connections between past and present as it looks at censorship, oppression, and violence. Here is a propulsive, inspiring tale of literature over a hundred years: a novel for book lovers everywhere that will bring a fresh audience to this acclaimed writer.
Spotted this a while ago, and the premise really caught my attention. Knopf made it open to all on NetGalley at one point, so I thought I’d give it a try. The Pages is due to be published by Knopf in North America (February 1st), and is out now in the UK published by Fourth Estate.
Follow the Author: Goodreads
Review copy received via NetGalley
Rachel Howzell Hall, WE LIE HERE (Thomas & Mercer)
A woman’s trip home reveals frightening truths in a twisty novel of murder and family secrets…
TV writer Yara Gibson’s hometown of Palmdale, California, isn’t her first choice for a vacation. But she’s back to host her parents’ twentieth-anniversary party and find the perfect family mementos for the celebration. Everything is going to plan until Yara receives a disturbing text: I have information that will change your life.
The message is from Felicia Campbell, who claims to be a childhood friend of Yara’s mother. But they’ve been estranged for years — drama best ignored and forgotten. But Yara can’t forget Felicia, who keeps texting, insisting that Yara talk to her “before it’s too late.”
But the next day is already too late for Felicia, whose body is found floating in Lake Palmdale. Before she died, Felicia left Yara a key to a remote lakeside cabin. In the basement are files related to a mysterious tragedy, unsolved since 1998. What secrets was Felicia hiding? How much of what Yara knows about her family has been true?
The deeper Yara digs for answers, the more she fears that Felicia was right. Uncovering the truth about what happened at the cabin all those years ago will change Yara’s life — or end it.
The latest thriller from an author who has never failed to impress. I still haven’t read everything by Howzell Hall, but I’m hoping to get caught up ASAP. We Lie Here is due to be published by Thomas & Mercer in North America and in the UK, on July 12th.
Clay Harmon, FLAMES OF MIRA (Solaris)
Born through life-threatening trials that bind chemical elements to the human body, Ig was forged in the boiling volcanoes under Mira’s frozen lands. One of the most powerful known elementals, he serves as an enforcer for Magnate Sorrelo Adriann, cursed with flesh binding magic that will kill him at the first sign of disobedience.
When Sorrelo is overthrown, Ig quickly learns he can do far worse than what has been asked of him so far. If he can’t escape the flesh binding in time, Ig will have to kill friend and foe alike to stop his master reclaiming the throne, or sacrifice himself trying.
The first in the new Rift Walker series. Another novel I hadn’t heard of it before I received a review copy. Flames of Mira is due to be published by Solaris in North America (July 5th) and in the UK (July 3rd).
Chris Herring, BLOOD IN THE GARDEN (Atria)
The definitive history of the 1990s New York Knicks, illustrating how Pat Riley, Patrick Ewing, John Starks, Charles Oakley, and Anthony Mason resurrected the iconic franchise through oppressive physicality and unmatched grit.
For nearly an entire generation, the New York Knicks have been a laughingstock franchise. Since 2001, they’ve spent more money, lost more games, and won fewer playoff series than any other NBA team.
But during the preceding era, the Big Apple had a club it was madly in love with — one that earned respect not only by winning, but through brute force. The Knicks were always looking for fights, often at the encouragement of Pat Riley. They fought opposing players. They fought each other. Hell, they even occasionally fought their own coaches.
The NBA didn’t take kindly to their fighting spirit. Within two years, league officials moved to alter several rules to stop New York from turning its basketball games into bloody mudwrestling matches. Nevertheless, as the 1990s progressed, the Knicks endeared themselves to millions of fans; not for how much they won, but for their colorful cast of characters and their hardworking mentality.
Now, through his original reporting and interviews with more than two hundred people, author Chris Herring delves into the origin, evolution, and eventual demise of the iconic club. He takes us inside the locker room, executive boardrooms, and onto the court for the key moments that lifted the club to new heights, and the ones that threatened to send everything crashing down in spectacular fashion.
Blood in the Garden is a portrait filled with eye-opening details that have never been shared before, revealing the full story of the franchise in the midst of the NBA’s golden era. And rest assured, no punches will be pulled. Which is just how those rough-and-tumble Knicks would like it.
This book has been getting a fair bit of pre-publication buzz around NBA Twitter (and elsewhere), and I’ve been looking forward to it for some time. I pre-ordered it, and hope to read it very soon. (As it happens, I was reading Jeff Pearlman’s Showtime when this was published, which covers, in part, Pat Riley’s time with the Lakers.) I read Charles Oakley’s memoir not so long ago, too, so it’ll be interesting to compare his account with what Herring’s been able to uncover about the time and team. Blood in the Garden is out now, published by Atria Books in North America
Justin D Hill, THE BOOKKEEPER’S SKULL (Black Library)
Follow in the footsteps of Rudgard Howe, an enforcer cadet who, while on their first mission, and embroiled in an embittered succession battle back home, uncovers a heinous sanguinary cult…
On the captital world of Potence, young enforcer cadet Rudgard Howe is caught up in a bitter internecine feud to inherit his father’s position of Chief Enforcer. As the tithe fleets approach, he is sent on his first mission to ensure that the planet’s distant agri-facilities fulfil their quotas to the God-Emperor. Farmed with serfs and managed by ex-Militarum soldiers, the agri-facilities are places of shocking brutality and hopelessness. But when he is sent to the outlying farmstead of Thorsarbour, Rudgard discovers a community where the crops are left to rot as the inhabitants indulge in the bloody ecstasy of a sanguinary cult. As Rudgard imposes the strict Lex Imperialis upon the farmstead, he begins to uncover a place where sanity is rapidly slipping. Just a single step into his nightmarish mission though, a series of cruel deaths threatens to dismantle everything he has ever known about the Imperium, his faith in the Emperor, and the strength of his very soul.
I’ve enjoyed other books and stories by Hill, and the synopsis caught my eye (as did that moody AF cover…). Also, it’s more Warhammer Horror, so intrigued to see what the author comes up with. The Bookkeeper’s Skull is out now, published by Black Library in North America and in the UK.
Gabino Iglesias, THE DEVIL TAKES YOU HOME (Mulholland)
A genre-defying thriller about a father desperate to salvage what’s left of his family, even if it means a descent into violence — both supernatural and of our own terrifying world.
Buried in debt due to his young daughter’s illness, his marriage at the brink, Mario reluctantly takes a job as a hitman, surprising himself with his proclivity for violence. After tragedy destroys the life he knew, Mario agrees to one final job: hijack a cartel’s cash shipment before it reaches Mexico. Along with an old friend and a cartel-insider named Juanca, Mario sets off on the near-suicidal mission, which will leave him with either a cool $200,000 or a bullet in the skull. But the path to reward or ruin is never as straight as it seems. As the three complicated men travel through the endless landscape of Texas, across the border and back, their hidden motivations are laid bare alongside nightmarish encounters that defy explanation. One thing is certain: even if Mario makes it out alive, he won’t return the same.
I haven’t read anything else by Iglesias, but the synopsis caught my attention. Looking forward to giving this a try as soon as I can. The Devil Takes You Home is due to be published by Mulholland Books in North America and Wildfire in the UK, on August 2nd, 2022.
Vaseem Khan & Maxim Jakubowski (eds.), THE PERFECT CRIME (Harper)
Around the world in 22 murders…
From Lagos to Mexico City, Australia to the Caribbean, Toronto to Los Angeles, Darjeeling to rural New Zealand, London to New York – twenty-two bestselling crime writers from diverse cultures come together from across the world in a razor sharp and deliciously sinister collection of crime stories.
Featuring Oyinkan Braithwaite, Abir Mukherjee, S.A. Cosby, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, J.P. Pomare, Sheena Kamal, Vaseem Khan, Sulari Gentill, Nelson George, Rachel Howzell Hall, John Vercher, Sanjida Kay, Amer Anwar, Henry Chang, Nadine Matheson, Mike Phillips, Ausma Zehanat Khan, Felicia Yap, Thomas King, Imran Mahmood, David Heska Wanbli Weiden and Walter Mosley.
First heard about this via Vaseem Khan’s Twitter, and it sounds fantastic. Will read very soon, hopefully. The Perfect Crime is due to be published by Harper in the UK, on March 3rd.
T. Kingfisher, NETTLE & BONE (Tor Books)
This isn’t the kind of fairytale where the princess marries a prince.
It’s the one where she kills him.
Marra never wanted to be a hero.
As the shy, convent-raised, third-born daughter, she escaped the traditional fate of princesses, to be married away for the sake of an uncaring throne. But her sister wasn’t so fortunate — and after years of silence, Marra is done watching her suffer at the hands of a powerful and abusive prince.
Seeking help for her rescue mission, Marra is offered the tools she needs, but only if she can complete three seemingly impossible tasks:
— build a dog of bones
— sew a cloak of nettles
— capture moonlight in a jar
But, as is the way in tales of princes and witches, doing the impossible is only the beginning.
Hero or not — now joined by a disgraced ex-knight, a reluctant fairy godmother, an enigmatic gravewitch and her fowl familiar — Marra might finally have the courage to save her sister, and topple a throne.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a negative or luke-warm reaction to a T. Kingfisher novel. So, it’s probably well past time that I read one. This one sounded interesting, so I thought I’d give it a try. Nettle & Bone is due to be published by Tor Books (North America) and Titan Books (UK), on April 26th.
Nick Kyme, VOLPONE GLORY (Black Library)
“We will make our own history, and all other accounts be damned.”
As war rages across the Sabbat Worlds, the Volpone Bluebloods are sent to Gnostes at the head of a massive Imperial host. Tasked with the liberation of the Agria island chain from the entrenched Blood Pact, the haughty soldiers of the Volpone find their mettle sorely tested in a brutal meat grinder. After a punishing setback threatens to derail the campaign, an unlikely champion rises through the ranks and victory once again seems possible. But the propaganda of war is a fickle beast, and the Archenemy are cultivating a plot the Imperium can scarcely fathom. Through glory and honour, the Volpone are desperate to prevail, but can they endure the rigours of the bloodiest campaign in their vaunted history and come out the other side intact?
A new novel set in the Sabbat Worlds, the setting for Dan Abnett’s excellent Gaunt’s Ghosts series. Kyme takes on one of the regiments that has features alongside the Ghosts, with a very different character and approach to war. I’ve heard a lot of good things about this novel, and I’ve enjoyed Kyle’s novels in the past. So, looking forward to reading this soon. Volpone Glory is out now, published by Black Library in North America and in the UK.
Alex Livingston, THE KNAVE OF SECRETS (Solaris)
A twisty tale of card sharps and con artists, in a world of magic where secrets are traded and gambled like coin.
Never stake more than you can afford to lose.
When failed magician turned cardsharp Valen Quinol is given the chance to play in the Forbearance Game — the invitation-only tournament where players gamble with secrets — he can’t resist. Or refuse, for that matter, according to the petty gangster sponsoring his seat at the table. Valen beats the man he was sent to play, and wins the most valuable secret ever staked in the history of the tournament.
Now Valen and his motley crew are being hunted by thieves, gangsters, spies and wizards, all with their own reasons for wanting what’s in that envelope. It’s a game of nations where Valen doesn’t know all the rules or who all the players are, and can’t see all the moves. But he does know if the secret falls into the wrong hands, it could plunge the whole world into war…
Jillian Medoff, WHEN WE WERE BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL (Harper)
An electrifying, twisty, and deeply emotional family drama, set on Manhattan’s glittering Upper East Side, that explores the dark side of love, the limits of loyalty, and the high cost of truth.
You can have everything, and still not have enough.
Cassie Quinn may only be twenty-three, but she knows a few things. One: money can’t buy happiness, but it’s certainly better to have it. Two: family matters most. Three: her younger brother Billy is not a rapist.
When Billy, a junior at Princeton, is arrested for assaulting his ex-girlfriend, Cassie races home to Manhattan to join forces with her big brother Nate and their parents, Lawrence and Eleanor. The Quinns scramble to hire the best legal minds money can buy, but Billy fits the all-too-familiar sex-offender profile — white, athletic, and privileged — that makes headlines and sways juries.
Meanwhile, Cassie struggles to understand why Billy’s ex Diana would go this far, even if the breakup was painful. And she knows how the end of first love can destroy someone: Her own years-long affair with a powerful, charismatic man left her shattered, and she’s only recently regained her footing.
As reporters converge outside their Upper East Side landmark building, the Quinns gird themselves for a media-saturated trial, and Cassie vows she’ll do whatever it takes to save Billy. But what if that means exposing her own darkest secrets to the world?
Lightning-paced and psychologically astute as it rockets toward an explosive ending, When We Were Bright and Beautiful is a dazzling novel that asks: who will pay the price when the truth is revealed?
The new novel from the author of This Could Hurt (which I have, but have somehow manage to forget to read…). Like many people, I’m a fan of crime/mystery novels that take place among the monied denizens of New York City. I’ll hopefully read this very soon. When We Were Bright and Beautiful is due to be published by Harper in North America and in the UK, on July 5th.
Jon Raymond, DENIAL (Simon & Schuster)
The year is 2052. Global warming has had a predictably devastating effect: Venice submerged, cyclones in Oklahoma, megafires in South America. Yet it could be much worse. Two decades earlier, the global protest movement known as the Upheavals helped break the planet’s fossil fuel dependency, and the subsequent Nuremberg-like Toronto Trials convicted the most powerful oil executives and lobbyists for crimes against the environment. Not all of them. A few executives escaped arrest and went into hiding, including pipeline mastermind Robert Cave.
Now, a Pacific Northwest journalist named Jack Henry who works for a struggling media company has received a tip that Cave is living in Mexico. Hoping the story will save his job, he travels south and, using a fake identity, makes contact with the fugitive. The two men strike up an unexpected friendship, leaving Jack torn about exposing Cave — an uncertainty further compounded by the diagnosis of a life-threatening illness and a new romance with an old acquaintance. Who will really benefit from the unmasking? What is the nature of justice and punishment? How does one contend with mortality when the planet itself is dying?
Denial is both a page-turning futuristic thriller and a powerful existential inquisition about the perilous moment in which we currently live.
I don’t believe I’d heard of Jon Raymond before I spotted this on Edelweiss. The synopsis caught my attention, so I’m looking forward to reading this soon. I also looked up his other books, and I think I’ll be adding a few of them to my TBR
pile mountain (first up: Livability, his collection of short stories). Denial is due to be published by Simon & Schuster in North America, on July 26th.
Follow the Author: Goodreads
Review copy received via Edelweiss
Matthew Reilly, THE ONE IMPOSSIBLE LABYRINTH (Macmillan)
THE END IS HERE
Jack West Jr has made it to the Supreme Labyrinth.
Now he faces one last race — against multiple rivals, against time, against the collapse of the universe itself — a headlong race that will end at a throne inside the fabled labyrinth.
AN IMPOSSIBLE MAZE
But the road will be hard.
For this is a maze like no other: a maze of mazes. Uncompromising and complex. Demanding and deadly.
A CATACLYSMIC CONCLUSION
It all comes down to this.
For it ends here — now — in the most lethal and dangerous place Jack has encountered in all of his many adventures. And in the face of this indescribable peril, with everything on the line, there is only one thing he can do.
Attempt the impossible.
It’s been a long road, but Reilly’s Jack West Jr. series is finally coming to an end! I pre-ordered this, and have been looking forward to it ever since I finished the previous book. Action-packed, and entertaining, I really like this series. The One Impossible Labyrinth is out now, published by Macmillan in Canada, Australia & New Zealand, and Orion in the UK.
Also on CR: Guest Post on “Four Kingdoms and Twelve Labours: Turning Myths into Reality”; Reviews of The Six Sacred Stones, The Five Greatest Warriors, The Two Lost Mountains, and The Great Zoo of China
Michael Schur, HOW TO BE PERFECT (Simon & Schuster)
From the creator of The Good Place and the cocreator of Parks and Recreation, a hilarious, thought-provoking guide to living an ethical life, drawing on 2,500 years of deep thinking from around the world.
Most people think of themselves as “good,” but it’s not always easy to determine what’s “good” or “bad” — especially in a world filled with complicated choices and pitfalls and booby traps and bad advice. Fortunately, many smart philosophers have been pondering this conundrum for millennia and they have guidance for us. With bright wit and deep insight, How to Be Perfect explains concepts like deontology, utilitarianism, existentialism, ubuntu, and more so we can sound cool at parties andbecome better people.
Schur starts off with easy ethical questions like “Should I punch my friend in the face for no reason?” (No.) and works his way up to the most complex moral issues we all face. Such as: Can I still enjoy great art if it was created by terrible people? How much money should I give to charity? Why bother being good at all when there are no consequences for being bad? And much more. By the time the book is done, we’ll know exactly how to act in every conceivable situation, so as to produce a verifiably maximal amount of moral good. We will be perfect, and all our friends will be jealous. OK, not quite. Instead, we’ll gain fresh, funny, inspiring wisdom on the toughest issues we face every day.
I’m a big fan of the shows that Schur has been involved in — not only The Good Place and Parks & Recreation, as mentioned in the synopsis, but also The Office (he had various producer roles, and also plays Dwight’s cousin, Mose). This caught my attention when it was announced, and I’ve been eagerly awaiting it ever since. I started reading it pretty much as soon as I got it, and zipped through it quite quickly — it’s an interesting and engaging read, and often very funny. However, you should know it’s not just a gag-fest: Schur digs into various schools of philosophy, offering an accessible introductory tour. (I do recommend you read the plentiful footnotes, as he includes many great jokes there.) How to Be Perfect is out now, published by Simon & Schuster (North America) and Quercus (UK).
David Tallerman, THE OUTFIT (Solaris)
The absolutely true story of the biggest, bloodiest and most daring bank robbery in Georgia’s history, orchestrated by none other than Joseph Stalin himself…
Lies and double-crosses, secret police and explosions, a carriage chase, a mattress stuffed with cash and a one-eyed master of disguise…
In 1907, the revolutionary Joseph Djugashvili – who would later take the name Joseph Stalin – met with an old friend, a clerk at the Tiflis branch of the State Bank of the Russian Empire, for a glass of milk. Over talk of national pride, the spirit of the new century and Djugashvili’s poetry, they agreed the beginnings of a plan.
With the aid of the Outfit, Djugashvili’s hardened crew of “expropriators,” they would pull off the biggest, bloodiest and most daring robbery in Georgia’s history, and ruthlessly change the direction of the Bolshevik revolution forever…
Tade Thompson, THE LEGACY OF MOLLY SOUTHBOURNE (Tor.com)
Whenever Molly Southbourne bled, a murderer was born. Deadly copies, drawn to destroy their creator, bound by a legacy of death. With the original Molly Southbourne gone, her remnants drew together, seeking safety and a chance for peace. The last Molly and her sisters built a home together, and thought they could escape the murder that marked their past.
But secrets squirm in Molly Southbourne’s blood — secrets born in a Soviet lab and carried back across the Iron Curtain to infiltrate the West. What remains of the Cold War spy machine wants those secrets back, and to get them they’re willing to unearth the dead and destroy the fragile peace surrounding the last copies of Molly Southbourne.
The Legacy of Molly Southbourne brings the story to a bloody end.
The final book in Thompson’s excellent Molly Southbourne series. I loved the first two books, and am very eager to get to this third instalment. The Legacy of Molly Southbourne is due to published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on May 17th.
Follow the Author: Goodreads
Review copy received via NetGalley
Zac Topping, WAKE OF WAR (Forge)
“I just hope I’m on the right side of history.”
The United States of America is a crumbling republic. With the value of the dollar imploding, the government floundering, and national outrage and resentment growing by the hour, a rebellion has caught fire. The Revolutionary Front, led by Joseph Graham, has taken control of Salt Lake City.
In a nation where opportunity is sequestered behind the gilded doors of the rich and powerful, joining the Army seemed like James Trent’s best option. He just never thought he’d see combat. Now Trent finds himself on the front lines fighting for something he doesn’t even know if he believes in. Destroying innocent lives wasn’t what he signed on for, and he can feel himself slipping away with every casualty.
Sharpshooter Sam Cross was just fourteen when American soldiers gunned down her parents and forced her brother into conscription. Now, five years later, retribution feels like her only option to stitch the wound of her past. She has accepted Joseph Graham’s offer to be his secret weapon. His Reaper in the Valley. But retribution always comes at a cost.
When forces clash in Salt Lake City, alliances will be shattered, resolve will be tested, and when the dust clears nobody will be able to lie to themselves, or be lied to, again.
I’ve seen this novel getting a lot of attention online (mainly via Twitter), so when it became available for review, I thought I’d give it a try. Looking forward to reading it. Wake of War is due to be published by Forge Books on July 19th, in North America and in the UK.
Jess Walter, THE ANGEL OF ROME (Harper)
A collection about those moments when everything changes — for the better, for the worse, for the outrageous — as a diverse cast of characters bounces from Italy to Idaho, questioning their roles in life and finding inspiration in the unlikeliest places.
We all live like we’re famous now, curating our social media presences, performing our identities, withholding those parts of ourselves we don’t want others to see. In this riveting collection of stories from acclaimed author Jess Walter, a teenage girl tries to live up to the image of her beautiful, missing mother. An elderly couple confronts the fiction writer eavesdropping on their conversation. A son must repeatedly come out to his senile father while looking for a place to care for the old man. A famous actor in recovery has a one-night stand with the world’s most surprising film critic. And in the romantic title story, a shy twenty-one-year-old studying Latin in Rome during “the year of my reinvention” finds himself face-to-face with the Italian actress of his adolescent dreams.
Funny, poignant, and redemptive, this collection of short fiction offers a dazzling range of voices, backdrops, and situations. With his signature wit and bighearted approach to the darkest parts of humanity, Walter tackles the modern condition with a timeless touch.
A new collection of short stories from the author of, among others, Beautiful Ruins and The Cold Millions. Really looking forward to reading it. The Angel of Rome is due to be published by Harper in North America and in the UK, on June 28th.
Josh Weiss, BEAT THE DEVILS (Grand Central)
An inventive, page-turning crime thriller set in an alternate United States during the height of the Red Scare — with shocking parallels to America in the 2020s.
USA, 1958. President Joseph McCarthy sits in the White House, elected on a wave of populist xenophobia and barely‑concealed anti‑Semitism. The country is in the firm grip of McCarthy’s Hueys, a secret police force evolved from the House Un-American Activities Committee. Hollywood’s sparkling vision of the American dream has been suppressed; its remaining talents forced to turn out endless anti‑communist propaganda.
LAPD detective Morris Baker — a Holocaust survivor who drowns his fractured memories of the unspeakable in schnapps and work — is called to the scene of a horrific double‑homicide. The victims are John Huston, a once‑promising but now forgotten film director, and an up‑and‑coming young journalist named Walter Cronkite. Clutched in the hand of one of the dead men is a cryptic note containing the phrase “beat the devils” followed by a single name: Baker. Did the two men die in an attack fuelled by better-dead-than-red sentiment, as the Hueys are quick to conclude, or were they murdered in a cover-up designed to protect — or even set in motion — a secret plot connected to Baker’s past?
In a country where terror grows stronger by the day, and paranoia rises unchecked, Baker is determined to find justice for two men who raised their voices in a time when free speech comes at the ultimate cost. In the course of his investigation, Baker stumbles into a conspiracy that reaches deep into the halls of power and uncovers a secret that could destroy the City of Angels — and the American ideal itself.
I tend not to love alternate history, but I the premise caught my attention. And, of course, I do love crime/mystery fiction set in Los Angeles. So, thought I’d give this a try. Beat the Devils is due to be published by Grand Central Publishing in North America and in the UK, on March 22nd.