New Books (October-November)


Another interesting and varied selection of new books (review copies and purchases). And a few more that I hadn’t been aware of prior to availability, too — it’s not often that happens, these days. Any catch your attention, or already on your anticipated lists?

Featuring: Jon Robin Baitz, Heather Chavez, Michael Connelly, Keiran Goddard, Tessa Hadley, Katy Hays, Joe Ide, Peter Kirsanow, Ivy Pochoda, John Sandford, Michelle Min Sterling, John Wray


BaitzJR-IllBeSeeinYaUSJon Robin Baitz, I’LL BE SEEIN’ YA (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Two searing, incisive plays from Jon Robin Baitz, Tony Award nominee and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist.

Allie Murchow, a retired Hollywood makeup artist, is stuck inside her apartment, stuck in her daydreams of bygone celebrity and glamour, and stuck on hold with her pharmacist. She tries to make sense of the Los Angeles outside her windows, the LA of 2020, but she can’t hear herself think over the echo of sirens and her chatty brother’s interjections. I’ll Be Seein’ Ya, written by Jon Robin Baitz, the author of Other Desert Cities and Vicuña, is an unflinchingly funny new play that takes on our anxieties and delusions and reveals new truths about our strange reality.

In The Insolvencies, two men—one younger, one older, one a professor, one a former student—recall their relationship and the time they felt “the piercing sting of simply being seen.” A study of sex and pleasure, of justice and shame.

I’m not sure if I’d ever heard of Baitz before I read the synopsis for this book, and I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen a production of one of his plays. However, it sounded interesting, so I thought I’d take a punt on it. I read it pretty much after getting it (it’s rather short), and unfortunately it didn’t really work for me. There are some amusing and sharp lines in here, but the style and tone didn’t ultimately appeal. I’ll Be Seein’ Ya is due to be published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in North America on January 17th, 2023.

Follow the Author: Goodreads
Review copy received via NetGalley


ChavezH-BeforeSheFindsMeUSHCHeather Chavez, BEFORE SHE FINDS ME (Mulholland)

Two unlikely mothers race to uncover the truth behind a horrific attack — even after it becomes clear that the truth will destroy one of their families.

Julia Bennett has worked hard to create a stable life for her daughter, Cora, in Southern California. So when Cora leaves for college, the worst thing Julia expects on move-in day is an argument with her ex-husband and his new wife. But a sudden attack leaves the campus stunned — and only Julia’s quick actions save Cora’s life. Shaken in the aftermath, and haunted by a dark secret, Julia starts to wonder: What if the attack wasn’t as random as everyone believes?

Newly pregnant Ren Petrovic has an unusual career —she’s a trained assassin, operating under a strict moral code. Ren wasn’t on campus that day, but she knows who was: her husband, Nolan. What she doesn’t know is why Nolan has broken their rules by not telling her about the job in advance. The more Ren looks into the attack, the more she begins to question: Who really hired Nolan? And why did one woman in the crowd respond so differently from all the rest?

Julia and Ren each want answers, but their searches quickly pit them each other. One woman is a hired killer, but the other is a determined survivor. And both mothers will defend their families to the bitter end.

I hadn’t heard of this before I saw it available for review, but the synopsis caught my attention. (Also, I’m always willing to give Mulholland titles a try.) Really looking forward to giving this a try. Before She Finds Me is due to be published by Mulholland Books in North America and in the UK, on June 27th, 2023.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, InstagramTwitter
Review copy received via NetGalley


ConnellyM-DesertStarUSHCMichael Connelly, THE DESERT STAR (Little, Brown)

LAPD detective Renée Ballard and Harry Bosch team up to hunt the brutal killer who is Bosch’s “white whale”—a man responsible for the murder of an entire family.

A year has passed since LAPD detective Renée Ballard quit the force in the face of misogyny, demoralization, and endless red tape. But after the chief of police himself tells her she can write her own ticket within the department, Ballard takes back her badge, leaving “the Late Show” to rebuild and lead the cold case unit at the elite Robbery-Homicide Division.

For years, Harry Bosch has been working a case that haunts him—the murder of an entire family by a psychopath who still walks free. Ballard makes Bosch an offer: come volunteer as an investigator in her new Open-Unsolved Unit, and he can pursue his “white whale” with the resources of the LAPD behind him.

First priority for Ballard is to clear the unsolved rape and murder of a sixteen-year-old girl. The decades-old case is essential to the councilman who supported re-forming the unit, and who could shutter it again—the victim was his sister. When Ballard gets a “cold hit” connecting the killing to a similar crime, proving that a serial predator has been at work in the city for years, the political pressure has never been higher. To keep momentum going, she has to pull Bosch off his own investigation, the case that is the consummation of his lifelong mission.

The two must put aside old resentments and new tensions to run to ground not one but two dangerous killers who have operated with brash impunity.

One of my most-anticipated new books of the year. (Connelly’s books are always in my top five most-anticipated, every year.) The Desert Star is out now, published by Little, Brown in North America and Orion Books in the UK.

Also on CR: Reviews of The Black Echo, The Black Ice, The Concrete Blonde, The Last Coyote, The Overlook, The Wrong Side of Goodbye, Two Kinds of Truth, The Late Show, Dark Sacred Night, Fair Warning, Blood Work, A Darkness More Than Night, and The Narrows

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, InstagramTwitter


GoddardK-HourglassUSHCKeiran Goddard, HOURGLASS (Europa Editions)

A short, lyrical debut novel about love, loss, work, time, and the unquenchable desire for connection with others — for fans of Jenny Offill, Mieko Kawakami, David Szalay and Sheila Heti

The second time you came, we went from bar to bar to bar. It made the city feel smaller. Like a map we were folding to the size of a stamp. We were good at that. We could have fit an entire universe inside a matchbox.

Exquisitely crafted, richly imagined, and as funny as it is moving, Hourglass is an unusual and uniquely told love story. Turning time upside down, it combs the wreckage of personal heartbreak for something universal and asks what it means to lose what you love.

I hadn’t heard of this before, but the publisher got in touch a couple of times to offer this for review. The synopsis isn’t as illuminating as it could be, but I suppose that makes me a little more intrigued. The book’s been getting a lot of pre-publication buzz, from a pretty wide range of people, so I thought I’d give it a try. Hourglass is due to be published by Europa Editions in North America on 2023; it is out now in the UK, published by Little, Brown.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, InstagramTwitter
Review copy received via Edelweiss


HadleyT-AfterTheFuneralAndOthersStoriesUSHCTessa Hadley, AFTER THE FUNERAL AND OTHER STORIES (Knopf)

In each of these twelve stories, small events have huge consequences. Heloise’s father died in a car crash when she was a little girl; at a dinner party in her forties, she meets someone connected to that long-ago tragedy. Two estranged sisters cross paths at a posh hotel and pretend not to recognize each other. Janie’s bohemian mother plans to marry a man close to Janie’s own age—everything changes when an accident interrupts the wedding party. A daughter caring for her elderly mother during the pandemic becomes obsessed with the woman next door; in the wake of his best friend’s death, a man must reassess his affair with the friend’s wife. Cecilia, a teenager, wakes one morning in Florence on vacation with her parents and sees them for the first time through disenchanted eyes.

I’ve had some pretty good luck with short story collections recently, and saw this was available for review, so I requested it. Looking forward to giving it a try. After the Funeral and Other Stories is due to be published by Knopf in North America on June 11th, 2023.

Follow the Author: Goodreads
Review copy received via Edelweiss


HaysK-CloistersUSHCKaty Hays, THE CLOISTERS (Atria)

A circle of researchers uncover a mysterious deck of tarot cards and shocking secrets in New York’s famed Met Cloisters…

When Ann Stilwell arrives in New York City, she expects to spend her summer working as a curatorial associate at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Instead, she finds herself assigned to The Cloisters, a gothic museum and garden renowned for its medieval art collection and its group of enigmatic researchers studying the history of divination.

Desperate to escape her painful past, Ann is happy to indulge the researchers’ more outlandish theories about the history of fortune telling. But what begins as academic curiosity quickly turns into obsession when Ann discovers a hidden 15th-century deck of tarot cards that might hold the key to predicting the future. When the dangerous game of power, seduction, and ambition at The Cloisters turns deadly, Ann becomes locked in a race for answers as the line between the arcane and the modern blurs.

A haunting and magical blend of genres, The Cloisters is a gripping debut that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

I spotted this featured in a bookstore and the premise caught my attention, so I decided to buy it (“The Secret History meets Ninth House” is a pretty intriguing pitch). Hope to read it very soon. The Cloisters is published in North America by Atria Books (out now) and Bantam Press in the UK (eBook out now, hardcover out in January).

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, InstagramTwitter


IdeJ-IQ6-FixitUSHCJoe Ide, FIXIT (Mulholland)

IQ must rescue Grace from a maniacal hitman who bears a bone-deep grudge against him

As IQ plugs a mysterious USB into his laptop, he’s horrified to see what flashes across the screen: his girlfriend Grace is sweaty and bedraggled — her wrists wrapped with duct tape. Grace has been kidnapped by the likes of Skip Hanson, a brutish hitman with a vendetta against Isaiah. As IQ and Dodson attempt to locate Grace based on scant evidence, (read: a Sonic burger wrapper in one grainy image) they must wend through the stark, unrelenting East California landscape in search of clues. Just as the case grows increasingly complicated, and Grace’s situation more dire, another powerful enemy emerges from the woodwork. And all the while, watching them closely, is the newly minted LAPD detective assigned to Grace’s case, Winnie Hando, a complicated woman with a complicated agenda of her own.

The the sixth novel in Ide’s acclaimed IQ series. I’ve enjoyed all of the others in the series, so this was always going to be on my must-read list/pile. (It’s also worth checking out Ide’s new Philip Marlowe novel, The Goodbye Coast). Fixit is due to be published by Mulholland Books in North America (May 9th, 2023) and W&N in the UK (May 11th).

Also on CR: Reviews of IQ, Righteous, Wrecked, Hi Five, Smoke, and The Goodbye Coast

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Review copy received via NetGalley


KirsanowP-WEBG-DevilsWeaponsUSHCPeter Kirsanow, THE DEVIL’S WEAPONS (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

Dick Canidy and the agents of the OSS scour war torn Poland looking for a rocket scientist who holds the secrets to the Nazi’s most dangerous weapon…

April 1940. By terms of the Soviet Nazi Nonaggression pact, the two dictatorships divided the helpless nation of Poland. Now, the Russians are rounding up enemies of the state in their occupation zone, but one essential target slips away. Dr. Sebastian Kapsky had spent years working with Walter Riedel and Werner von Braun in the early days of rocket science, but as a man with a conscience he refused to continue when he saw the perversion of their work by the Nazis. That makes him the most knowledgeable person about German superweapons outside of Germany.

The Germans want him. The Soviets are desperate to grab him, but Wild Bill Donovan knows there’s only one man who can find him in the middle of a war zone and get him out—Dick Canidy.

This is the eighth novel in the W.E.B. Griffin Men at War series. I haven’t read any of the other novels in the series (indeed, I don’t think I’d even heard of it before this book arrived). I don’t know if or when I’ll be able to get to this, but it does sound interesting — certainly one for those who like thrillers set during the Second World War. The Devil’s Weapons is due to be published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons in North America and in the UK, on December 6th.

Follow the Author: Goodreads
Review copy received from publisher


PochodaI-SingHerDownUSHCIvy Pochoda, SING HER DOWN (MCD)

Florence “Florida” Baum is not the hapless innocent she claims to be when she arrives at the Arizona women’s prison — or so her ex-cellmate, Diosmary Sandoval, keeps insinuating.

Dios knows the truth about Florida’s crimes, understands the truth that Florence hides even from herself: that she wasn’t a victim of circumstance, an unlucky bystander misled by a bad man. Dios knows that darkness lives in women too, despite the world’s refusal to see it. And she is determined to open Florida’s eyes and unleash her true self.

When an unexpected reprieve gives both women their freedom, Dios’s fixation on Florida turns into a dangerous obsession, and a deadly cat-and-mouse chase ensues from Arizona to the desolate streets of Los Angeles.

With blistering, incisive prose, the award-winning author Ivy Pochoda delivers a razor-sharp Western. Gripping and immersive, Sing Her Down is a spellbinding thriller setting two indelible women on a path to certain destruction and an epic, stunning showdown.

Always interested in reading anything new by Pochoda. This one sounds especially interesting, so I hope to get to it very soon — I think I’ll probably hold off on posting a review closer to the release date, though. Sing Her Down is due to be published by MCD in North America on May 23rd, 2023.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Review copy received via Edelweiss


SandfordJ-Letty2-DarkAngelUSHCJohn Sandford, DARK ANGEL (G. P. Putnam’s Sons)

Letty Davenport, the tough-as-nails adopted daughter of Lucas Davenport, takes on an undercover assignment that brings her across the country and into the crosshairs of a dangerous group of hackers.

Letty Davenport’s days working a desk job at are behind her. Her previous actions at a gunfight in Texas — and her incredible skills with firearms — draw the attention of several branches of the US government, and make her a perfect fit for even more dangerous work. The Department of Homeland Security and the NSA have tasked her with infiltrating a hacker group, known only as Ordinary People, that is intent on wreaking havoc. Letty and her reluctant partner from the NSA pose as free-spirited programmers for hire and embark on a cross country road trip to the group’s California headquarters.

While the two work to make inroads with Ordinary People and uncover their plans, they begin to suspect that the hackers are not their only enemy. Someone within their own circle may have betrayed them, and has ulterior motives that place their mission — and their lives — in grave danger.

In this second novel in the second spin-off from Sandford’s best-selling Lucas Davenport/Prey series, Letty Davenport returns to investigate a group of hackers who have pinged the US government’s radar. I was reading the first book, The Investigator, when the review copies became available, so that seemed like fate. It’s a good series, and like Sandford’s others, the tone is set by the protagonist’s character — Lucas Davenport novels have a different feel to the Virgil Flowers novels, for example, and it looks like the same can be said for the Letty Davenport books. Dark Angel is due to be published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons in North America (April 11th) and Canelo Crime in the UK (April 13th).

Also on CR: Reviews of Phantom Prey, Wicked Prey, Storm Prey, Buried Prey, Stolen Prey, Silken Prey, Field of Prey, Golden Prey, Neon Prey, Masked Prey, and Righteous Prey

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Review copy received via Edelweiss


SterlingMM-CampZeroUSHCMichelle Min Sterling, CAMP ZERO (Atria Books)

In a near-future northern settlement, a handful of climate change survivors find their fates intertwined…

In the far north of Canada sits Camp Zero, an American building project hiding many secrets.

Desperate to help her climate-displaced Korean immigrant mother, Rose agrees to travel to Camp Zero and spy on its architect in exchange for housing. She arrives at the same time as another newcomer, a college professor named Grant who is determined to flee his wealthy family’s dark legacy. Gradually, they realize that there is more to the architect than previously thought, and a disturbing mystery lurks beneath the surface of the camp. At the same time, rumors abound of an elite group of women soldiers living and working at a nearby Cold War-era climate research station. What are they doing there? And who is leading them?

An electrifying page-turner where nothing is as it seems, Camp Zero cleverly explores how the intersection of gender, class, and migration will impact who and what will survive in a warming world.

Hadn’t heard of this one before the publisher offered it for review. Sounds interesting, though, and I look forward to reading it soon. Camp Zero is due to be published in the US by Atria Books (April 4th, 2023), in Canada by Knopf (April 4th), and in the UK by John Murray (March 30th).

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Instagram
Review copy received via Edelweiss


WrayJ-GoneToTheWolvesUSHCJohn Wray, GONE TO THE WOLVES (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Kip, Leslie, and Kira are outliers — even in the metal scene they love. In arch-conservative Gulf Coast Florida in the late 1980s, just listening to metal can get you arrested, but for the three of them the risk is well worth it, because metal is what leads them to one another.

Different as they are, Kip, Leslie, and Kira form a family of sorts that proves far safer, and more loving, than the families they come from. Together, they make the pilgrimage from Florida’s swamp country to the fabled Sunset Strip in Hollywood. But in time, the delicate equilibrium they’ve found begins to crumble. Leslie moves home to live with his elderly parents; Kip struggles to find his footing in the sordid world of LA music journalism; and Kira, the most troubled of the three, finds herself drawn to ever darker and more extreme strains of metal. On a trip to northern Europe for her twenty-second birthday, in the middle of a show, she simply vanishes. Two years later, the truth about her disappearance reunites Kip with Leslie, who in order to bring Kira home alive must make greater sacrifices than they could ever have imagined.

In his most absorbing and ambitious novel yet, John Wray dives deep into the wild, funhouse world of heavy metal and death cults in the 1980s and ’90s. Gone to the Wolves lays bare the intensity, tumult, and thrill of friendship in adolescence—a time when music can often feel like life or death.

The new novel by the author of The Lost Time Accidents. As a life-long metalhead, the synopsis caught my attention — after the cover’s font, that is. I think we get re-wired to be drawn to ridiculous fonts, if you like metal? The designer however decided to reduce the authenticity and made it legible. So, points there. (Serious. It’s silly.) Gone to the Wolves is due to be published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in North America on May 2nd, 2023.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Review copy received via Edelweiss

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