Upcoming/Quick Review: GOTHAM CENTRAL by Ed Brubaker & Greg Rucka (DC Comics)

GothamCentral-Omnibus2023Writers: Ed Brubaker & Greg Rucka | Art: Michael Lark, Stefano Gaudiano, & Michael Clark

This isn’t really a review. But, I’ve been reading the Gotham Central series over the last couple of weeks, and I wanted to just give it a quick mention on the website. I also noticed that DC Comics are publishing a new omnibus edition next year (something they’ve been doing for a number of their classic, best-selling, and completed series). First, here’s the synopsis:

Gotham City: a town teeming with corrupt cops, ruthless crime lords, petty thieves… and just a small handful that would oppose them. Grizzled veteran Harvey Bullock, Captain Maggie Sawyer, Detective Renee Montoya and the GCPD are the law force that stands between order and complete anarchy. 

Gotham’s Finest work around the clock to not only keep the world’s most psychotic criminals off the street… but also cleaning up the mess left behind by Batman’s one-man war on crime. 

This Eisner Award-winning series follows the detectives of Gotham City’s Special Crimes Unit as they navigate against the city’s greatest villains–in the shadow of Batman himself. Collects issues #1-40.

If you are a fan of crime fiction, and certainly if you’re a fan of Brubaker’s crime, thriller, and mystery comics, then I think you’ll find a lot to love in this series. It focuses on the lives and work of Gotham City’s M.C.U. (major crimes unit), and follows them as they navigate their jobs in a city that has become overrun by “freaks” (meta-humans and super-criminals). As with all of Brubaker’s and Rucka’s best work, it is also as much about the characters’ personal lives as it is about chasing the Joker, the Mad Hatter, or other villains. The series provides a fascinating and engaging glimpse into how law enforcement operates in the shadow of the Batman — both grateful that he is able to do things that they can’t, but also angry that he often gets in the way, or makes them look bad. Continue reading

Annotated Excerpt: A FRACTURED INFINITY by Nathan Tavares (Titan)

TavaresN-FracturedInfinityToday, we have an annotated excerpt/sneak-peak from Fractured Infinity by Nathan Tavares. Pitched as “a thrilling race across the multiverse to save the infinite Earths — and the love of your life — from total destruction”, this novel should appeal to “fans of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, The Time Traveller’s Wife and Rick and Morty.” (An interesting mix, there.) Here’s the synopsis:

Film-maker Hayes Figueiredo is struggling to finish the documentary of his heart when handsome physicist Yusuf Hassan shows up, claiming Hayes is the key to understanding the Envisioner – a mysterious device that can predict the future.

Hayes is taken to a top-secret research facility where he discovers his alternate self from an alternate universe created the Envisioner and sent it to his reality. Hayes studies footage of the other him, he discovers a self he doesn’t recognize, angry and obsessive, and footage of Yusuf… as his husband.

As Hayes finds himself falling for Yusuf, he studies the parallel universe and imagines the perfect life they will live together. But their lives are inextricably linked to the other reality, and when that couple’s story ends in tragedy Hayes realises he must do anything he can to save Yusuf’s life. Because there are infinite realities, but only one Yusuf.

With the fate of countless realities and his heart in his hands, Hayes leads Yusuf on the run, tumbling through a kaleidoscope of universes trying to save it all. But even escaping into infinity, Hayes is running out of space – soon he will have to decide how much he’s willing to pay to save the love of his life.

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Upcoming: UNDER MY SKIN by K. J. Parker (Subterranean Press)

ParkerKJ-UnderMySkinAny day you learn about a new K. J. Parker book is a great day. This morning, the latest Subterranean Press newsletter dropped into my inbox, announcing the author’s latest collection: Under My Skin! I’m sure I’m becoming a broken record, when it comes to stating how much of a fan I am of Parker’s short fiction (and writing in general), but he really is an awesome talent. This new collection is over 700 pages, and is anchored by a new full-length tale, Relics. Here’s the synopsis:

These stories are everything readers have come to expect from Parker, populated by con men and kings, magicians who don’t do magic and messiahs who don’t offer redemption, by holy men and holy fools. But be warned, not only is all perhaps not what it seems, all can usually be counted on to not be what it seems. Parker’s unruly and unreliable narrators, who sometimes fool themselves even more than they fool us, stride along muddy paths through lonely hills or across marble floors in grand palaces, always finding trapdoors opening beneath them.

In “The Thought That Counts,” for example, a man who claims to have been magically granted the wisdom of the world finds that he’s not wise enough to recognize a figure from his past who may prove that wisdom isn’t enough in every situation. In My Beautiful Life, a man who starts life as the son of a village prostitute rises as high in his world as anyone can, only to find that tumbling from such a height makes for a long, long fall. And in the epistolary novel Relics, readers are offered not just one unreliable narrator but two, as an archduke and a relic hunter describe their highs and lows to one another in a series of missives that even the writers don’t necessarily fully believe, much less the recipients.

This is the third Parker collection published by Subterranean Press. The previous two — Academic Exercises and The Father of Lies — are also very highly recommended. Under My Skin is expected to go on sale on March 30th, 2023. Can’t wait!

Also on CR: Reviews of The Devil You Know, The Last Witness, Downfall of the Gods, My Beautiful Life, Prosper’s Demons, Academic Exercises, The Big Score, The Long Game, and Pulling the Wings Off Angels

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

New Books (October-November)

NewBooks-202211

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

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Upcoming: BURN THE NEGATIVE by Josh Winning (G. P. Putnam’s Sons)

WinningJ-BurnTheNegativeUSHCNext year, G. P. Putnam’s Sons are due to publish the second novel by Josh Winning: Burn the Negative. I haven’t got around to reading the author’s first novel, yet (The Shadow Glass), but his new novel sounds really interesting. Long-time readers will know that I enjoy novels that are about or linked to Hollywood and the entertainment industries, and Burn the Negative looks like it’s going to be a pretty cool mash-up of Hollywood and slasher-movie style horror/suspense. Here’s the synopsis:

Thirty years hiding from her past.
Eight deaths still unexplained.
One haunted horror film.
Nowhere left to run.

Journalist Laura Warren is mid-flight to LA when she learns that the streaming series she’s about to report on is a remake of a ‘90s horror flick. A cursed ’90s horror flick. The one she starred in—and has been running from her whole life.

As a child star, Laura was cast as the lead in The Guesthouse. She played Tammy Manners, the little girl with the terrifying gift to tell people how the Needle Man would kill them. But her big break was her last, as eight of her cast and crew mates died in mysterious ways, and the film became infamous—a cult classic of fictional horror that somehow summoned the real thing. Hoping to move on, Laura changed her name and her accent, dyed her hair, and moved across the Atlantic Ocean.

But some scripts don’t want to stay buried.

After landing, Laura finds a yellow dress like the one she wore in the movie. Then the words “She’s here” scratched into the wall in an actor’s trailer. And then people working on the series start dying. It’s all happening again, and Laura finds herself on the run with her sister and a jaded psychic, hoping to find answers—and to stay out of the Needle Man’s lethal reach.

An homage to slasher films with a fresh take on the true price of fame, Burn the Negative is a twisty thriller best read with the lights on.

Really looking forward to giving this a try. Josh Winning’s Burn the Negative is due to be published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons in North America and in the UK, on July 11th, 2023.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, InstagramTwitter

Upcoming: MARCH’S END by Daniel Polansky (Angry Robot Books)

PolanskyD-MarchsEndNext year, Angry Robot Books are due to published the anticipated new novel by Daniel Polansky: March’s End. I’ve been a fan of Polansky’s work ever since his debut, Straight Razor Cure (Low Town in North America). This new novel is a “multi-generational portal fantasy of strange magics, epic warfare, and deadly intrigue, in which the personality conflicts and toxic struggles of the Harrow family are reflected in the fantasy world they’ve sworn to protect”. Here’s the synopsis:

The Harrows are a typical suburban family who, since time immemorial, have borne a sacred and terrible charge. In the daylight they are teachers, doctors, bartenders and vagrants, but at night they are the rulers and protectors of the March, a fantastical secondary world populated with animate antiquated toys and sentient lichen, a panorama of the impossible where cities are carried on the backs of giant snails, and thunderstorms can be subdued with song.

But beneath this dreamlike exterior lie dark secrets, and for generation after generation the Harrows have defended the March from the perils that wait outside its borders – when they are not consumed in their own bitter internecine quarrels.

In the modern day the Harrow clan are composed of Sophia, the High Queen of the March, a brilliant, calculating matriarch, and her three children – noble Constance, visionary, rebellious Mary Ann, and clever, amoral Will. Moving back and forth between their youth, adolescence, and adulthood, we watch as this family fractures, then reconciles in the face of a conflict endangering not only the existence of the March, but of the ‘real world’ itself.

THE MARCH’S END is a book about growing up, in which the familial struggles of the Harrows are threaded through the mythic history of the fantastical land they protect. It is a story of failure and redemption, in which the power of love is tested against forces that seek to break it, and the necessity of each generation to recreate itself is asserted.

Daniel Polansky’s March’s End is due to be published by Angry Robot Books in North America and in the UK, on May 9th, 2023.

Also on CR: Interview with Daniel Polansky (2011); Reviews of Straight Razor Cure, Tomorrow the Killing, She Who Waits, The Builders, and The Seventh Perfection

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, InstagramTwitter

Upcoming: SING HER DOWN by Ivy Pochoda (MCD)

PochodaI-SingHerDownUSHCIn May 2023, MCD is due to publish the highly-anticipated new novel by Ivy Pochoda: Sing Her Down. Pochoda’s previous two novels — Wonder Valley and These Women — are superb, dark and thought-provoking literary thriller novels, and I have very high hopes for Sing Her Down, which has a very intriguing premise:

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.

Really looking forward to this. Ivy Pochoda’s Sing Her Down is due to be published by MCD in North America on May 23rd, 2023.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: GONE TO THE WOLVES by John Wray (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

WrayJ-GoneToTheWolvesUSHCAs a life-long metalhead, my eyes must be tuned to spot “metal script”, as they did on the cover of John Wray‘s upcoming new novel, Gone to the Wolves. “What’s that about?” I wondered. The new novel from the author of The Lost Time Accidents and Godsend, it delves into “the wild, risky world of heavy metal in the 1980s and ’90s”. Here’s the synopsis:

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.

I’m really looking forward to reading this. John Wray’s 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

Quick Review: PULLING THE WINGS OFF ANGELS by K. J. Parker (Tor.com)

ParkerKJ-PullingTheWingsOffAngelsAnother quirky, engaging, and twisty novella from Parker

Long ago, a wealthy man stole an angel and hid her in a chapel, where she remains imprisoned to this day.

That’s the legend, anyway.

A clerical student who’s racked up gambling debts to a local gangster is given an ultimatum — deliver the angel his grandfather kidnapped, or forfeit various body parts in payment.

And so begins a whirlwind theological paradox — with the student at its center — in which the stakes are the necessity of God, the existence of destiny — and the nature of angels.

It should come as no surprise to long-time readers of CR that I am a huge fan of K. J. Parker’s novellas and short fiction. As soon as I read the synopsis for Pulling the Wings Off Angels, I was eager to read it. I was lucky enough to get a DRC a while ago, and read it right away. I’m very happy to report that it is classic Parker; I really enjoyed this. Continue reading

Excerpt: THE HOLLOWS by Daniel Church (Angry Robot Books)

ChurchD-Hollows“Folk horror meets ancient gods in a remote snowbound Peak District town where several murders take place.” Today, we have an excerpt from Daniel Church‘s The Hollows, which was published this week by Angry Robot Books. Here’s the synopsis:

In a lonely village in the Peak District, during the onset of a once-in-a-lifetime snow storm, Constable Ellie Cheetham finds a body. The man, a local ne’er-do-well, appears to have died in a tragic accident: he drank too much and froze to death.

But the facts don’t add up: the dead man is clutching a knife in one hand, and there’s evidence he was hiding from someone. Someone who watched him die. Stranger still, an odd mark has been drawn onto a stone beside his body.

The next victims are two families on the outskirts of town. As the storm rises and the body count grows, Ellie realises she has a terrifying problem on her hands: someone – or some thing – is killing indiscriminately, attacking in the darkness and using the storm for cover.

The killer is circling ever closer to the village. The storm’s getting worse… and the power’s just gone out.

The excerpt is taken from the middle of the novel, when the action really starts to get going…

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