Review: THE LATE SHOW by Michael Connelly (Little Brown/Orion)

Introducing an excellent new detective character

Renée Ballard works the night shift in Hollywood, beginning many investigations but finishing none, as each morning she turns everything over to the day shift. A once up-and-coming detective, she’s been given this beat as punishment after filing a sexual harassment complaint against a supervisor.

But one night she catches two assignments she doesn’t want to part with: the brutal beating of a prostitute left for dead in a parking lot and the killing of a young woman in a nightclub shooting. Ballard is determined not to give up at dawn. Against orders and her partner’s wishes, she works both cases by day while maintaining her shift by night. As the investigations entwine, they pull her closer to her own demons and the reason she won’t give up her job, no matter what the department throws at her.

I recently binge-watched the first three seasons of Bosch, the TV series based on Connelly’s main series. I absolutely loved it, and that gave me the necessary kick up the backside to start reading Connelly’s novels. As it happened, I received a review copy of The Late Show, so I decided to start here. This is a fantastic introduction of a new character, and a great crime novel. This is the first novel by Michael Connelly that I’ve read. It will not be my last. Continue reading

Upcoming: WHO’S AFRAID TOO? by Maria Lewis (Piatkus)

LewisM-2-WhosAfraidTooToday, we have the cover for Maria Lewis‘s second novel, Who’s Afraid Too? I rather like the cover-style for these novels (the first is at the end of the piece). The next novel in the author’s well-received Tommi Grayson urban fantasy series, here’s the synopsis:

Book Two in the bestselling Tommi Grayson series is a gutsy, fur-flying, feminist read for fans of urban fantasy. If you love Patricia Briggs, Darynda Jones, Keri Arthur, Kelley Armstrong or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, don’t miss Maria Lewis!

Tommi Grayson: all bark, all bite… and now she’s BACK!

After the sh*t show that was her family reunion, Tommi needed to get gone. She’s spent the last few weeks trying to understand her heritage — the one that comes with a side order of fur as well as her Maori history and how she can connect to it. 

But she can only escape for so long — when an unspeakable evil, thought long destroyed, returns, Tommi needs every bit of the skills she’s learned. With the help of allies both old and new, she’s going to take the fight to the enemy…

Maria Lewis’s Who’s Afraid Too? is published in the UK by Piatkus, on January 10th, 2017. Who’s Afraid? is out now.

For more on Lewis’s writing and novels, be sure to check out the author’s website, and follow her on Twitter and Goodreads.

LewisM-1-WhosAfraid

Interview with HELEN LOWE

LoweH-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction, for new readers: Who is Helen Lowe?

Thank you, for hosting me on Civilian Reader, Stefan. In terms of “who I am”: I’m a novelist, poet, and occasional interviewer. So far, the only idea I’ve ever had for a novel has come to me in speculative fiction mode, i.e. as fantasy, science fiction, or legendary history, but I write short fiction in a wider range of genres. Outside of writing, I live in “Middle Earth”, aka New Zealand, and I am interested in a range of “stuff”, from astronomy and history, through martial arts, to wine – especially NZ wines – and making and consuming food, the latter in the company of friends whenever possible.

Your latest novel, Daughter of Blood, was published earlier this year by Orbit (UK) and Voyager (US). It’s the third in your fantasy series, but how would you introduce the series to a potential reader?

Well, the Twitter-length synopsis for the series is that it’s a story about a people who believe themselves to be champions of good but are divided by prejudice, suspicion, and fear. (Not to mention xenophobic, socially rigid, and prone to fratricidal blood feuds.) They are also alien to the world they inhabit (Haarth), so there’s an SF-nal element there. The Wall of Night series is a single story told in four distinct parts, but it centres on a young woman, Malian of Night (think ‘princess’, not ‘farm girl’), who must attempt to reunite her fractured people (the Derai) and restore their abandoned magic, as well as building alliances with the other cultures of Haarth, in order to prevent the world being destroyed by (another) alien invader. Continue reading

New Books (August-September)

HIMYM-MarshallCocktailWide

Featuring: Paul Cornell, Patrick DeWitt, John French, John Grisham, Garth Risk Hallberg, Lauren Holmes, Chrissie Hynde, Michael Livingston, Jonathan Maberry, Joel McIver, Patrick Ness, Nnedi Okorafor, K.J. Parker, Daniel Polansky, Alter S. Reiss, Geoff Renoff, Anthony Reynolds, Jeffrey Rotter, F. Wesley Schneider, Angela Slatter, A.J. Smith, Sylvia Spruck Wrigley, Patrick S. Tomlinson, Michael R. Underwood, Matt Wallace, Chuck Wendig, Kai Ashante Wilson, Tom Wood, Sunil Yapa

LokiOooh Continue reading

Upcoming from Little, Brown UK

Here’s a selection of upcoming titles from Little, Brown UK that have caught my eye. (It’s a bit more of a mix than usual.)

ArmstrongK-C3-DeceptionsUKKelley Armstrong, DECEPTIONS (August 18th, Sphere)

TRUST NO ONE

Olivia Jones is desperate for the truth. The daughter of convicted serial killers, she has begun to suspect that her parents are innocent of their crimes. But who can she trust, in a world where betrayal and deception hide in every shadow? 

RISK EVERYTHING

Liv does have one secret weapon: a mysterious sixth sense that helps her to anticipate danger. The trouble is, this rare power comes with its own risks. There are dark forces that want to exploit Liv’s talents – and will stop at nothing to win her to their side. 

FACE THE TRUTH

Now Liv must decide, before it’s too late. Who does she love? Who is really on her side? And can she save herself without burning down everything that matters most?

Book three in Armstrong’s Cainsville series — following Omens and Visions. All published in the US by Dutton.

Publisher Page

*

AryanS-BattlemageStephen Aryan, BATTLEMAGE (September 24th, Orbit)

An action-packed and magic-fuelled fantasy novel from a British debut author, Stephen Aryan’s Battlemage features mages fighting an empire-spanning war for a homeland that fears and despises them

‘I can command storms, summon fire and unmake stone,’ Balfruss growled. ‘It’s dangerous to meddle with things you don’t understand.’

BALFRUSS is a battlemage, sworn to fight and die for a country that fears his kind.

VARGUS is a common soldier – while mages shoot lightning from the walls of his city, he is down on the front line getting blood on his blade.

TALANDRA is a princess and spymaster, but the war will force her to risk everything, and make the greatest sacrifice of all.

Magic and mayhem collide in this explosive epic fantasy from a major new talent.

Publisher Page

*

AycliffeJ-TheLostJonathan Aycliffe, THE LOST (October 1st, Constable)

When a man is lost, who but his ghosts will find him?

British born Michael Feraru, scion of a long line of Romanian aristocrats, leaves his country of birth and his love, to reclaim his heritage — a Draculian castle deep in the heart of Transylvania. He plans to turn his inheritance into an orphanage in the new post-Ceausescu, post-communist country. There he enlists the help of a young local lawyer, Liliana Popescu, to search for the missing Feraru millions, and battle through the complex maze of old bureaucracy in the scam-rich, newly-born state.

Feraru describes his journey into the heart of the Romanian countryside, wasted by years of neglect and caught in a time-warp, as though the twentieth century had never reached it. When he eventually arrives at his inheritance, he finds the castle of the Ferarus, in a sunless valley in the Carpathian Mountains, is home to much more than memories…

Publisher Page

*

ButcherJ-CS1-AeronautsWindlassUKJim Butcher, THE AERONAUT’S WINDLASS (September 29th, Orbit)

A new series set in a fantastic world of noble families, steam-powered technology, and magic-wielding warriors…

Since time immemorial, the Spires have sheltered humanity, towering for miles over the mist-shrouded surface of the world. Within their halls, aristocratic houses have ruled for generations, developing scientific marvels, fostering trade alliances, and building fleets of airships to keep the peace.

Captain Grimm commands the merchant ship, Predator. Fiercely loyal to Spire Albion, he has taken their side in the cold war with Spire Aurora, disrupting the enemy’s shipping lines by attacking their cargo vessels. But when the Predator is severely damaged in combat, leaving captain and crew grounded, Grimm is offered a proposition from the Spirearch of Albion-to join a team of agents on a vital mission in exchange for fully restoring Predator to its fighting glory.

And even as Grimm undertakes this dangerous task, he will learn that the conflict between the Spires is merely a premonition of things to come. Humanity’s ancient enemy, silent for more than ten thousand years, has begun to stir once more. And death will follow in its wake.

Published by Orbit in both the UK and US. This is the first in a new series, The Cinder Spires.

Publisher Page

*

ByrneM-GirlInTheRoadUKPBMonica Byrne, THE GIRL ON THE ROAD (September 3rd, PB, Blackfriars)

In a world where global power has shifted east and revolution is brewing, a young woman sets out from her home in India on a desperate, profound journey of escape and discovery.

A young woman called Meena wakes up one morning covered in blood. There are mysterious snakebites across her chest. She knows she’s in danger but something has happened to her memory. All she can do is run — but why? And from whom?

As Meena plots her escape she hears of the Trail – an extraordinary, forbidden bridge that spans the Arabian sea, connecting India to Africa like a silver ribbon. Its purpose is to harness the power of the ocean — Blue Energy — but it also offers a subculture of travellers a chance for sanctuary and adventure.

Convinced the Trail is her salvation, Meena gathers supplies — GPS, a scroll reader, a sealable waterproof pod. And so begins her extraordinary journey — both physical and spiritual – from India to Ethiopia, the home of her birth. But as she runs away from the threat of violence she is also running towards a shocking revelation about her past and her family.

Still haven’t had the chance to read this, unfortunately. New paperback edition.

Publisher Page

*

ElliottK-CourtsOfFivesKate Elliott, COURT OF FIVES (August 27th, LB Young Readers)

In this imaginative escape into an enthralling new world, World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott begins a new trilogy with her debut young adult novel, weaving an epic story of a girl struggling to do what she loves in a society suffocated by rules of class and privilege

Jessamy’s life is a balance between acting like an upper class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But at night she can be whomever she wants when she sneaks out to train for The Fives, an intricate, multi-level athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom’s best competitors. Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an unlikely friendship between a girl of mixed race and a Patron boy causes heads to turn. When a scheming lord tears Jes’s family apart, she’ll have to test Kal’s loyalty and risk the vengeance of a powerful clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.

Publisher Page

*

Fink&Cranor-WelcomeToTheNightValeJoseph Fink & Jeffery Cranor, WELCOME TO THE NIGHT VALE (October 20th, Orbit)

From the creators of the wildly popular Welcome to Night Vale podcast comes an imaginative mystery of appearances and disappearances that is also a poignant look at the ways in which we all struggle to find ourselves… no matter where we live. The Telegraph calls Night Vale a ‘cultural phenomenon’ and Time Out says it’s ‘as hilarious as it is macabre’. For fans of Stephen King, Serial, Twin Peaks and of course the number one iTunes podcast itself.

Located in a nameless desert somewhere in the great American Southwest, Night Vale is a small town where ghosts, angels, aliens and government conspiracies are all commonplace parts of everyday life. It is here that the lives of two women, with two mysteries, will converge.

Nineteen-year-old Night Vale pawn shop owner Jackie Fierro is given a paper marked ‘KING CITY’ by a mysterious man in a tan jacket. She can’t seem to get the paper to leave her hand, and no one who meets this man can remember anything about him. Jackie is determined to uncover the mystery of King City before she herself unravels.

Diane Crayton’s son, Josh, is moody and also a shape shifter. And lately Diane’s started to see her son’s father everywhere she goes, looking the same as the day he left years earlier. Josh, looking different every time Diane sees him, shows a stronger and stronger interest in his estranged father, leading to a disaster Diane can see coming, even as she is helpless to prevent it.

Diane’s search to reconnect with her son and Jackie’s search for her former routine life collide as they find themselves coming back to two words: ‘KING CITY’. It is King City that holds the key to both of their mysteries, and their futures . . . if they can ever find it.

Publisher Page

*

GalbraithR-CS3-CareerOfEvilUKRobert Galbraith, CAREER OF EVIL (October 22nd, Sphere)

When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman’s severed leg.

Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible – and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality.

With the police focusing on the one suspect Strike is increasingly sure is not the perpetrator, he and Robin take matters into their own hands, and delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them…

A fiendishly clever mystery with unexpected twists around every corner, Career of Evil is also a gripping story of a man and a woman at a crossroads in their personal and professional lives. You will not be able to put this book down.

I loved the first two novels in Galbraith’s series — The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm. Very much looking forward to Career of Evil. Oh, if you were somehow unaware of the fact, “Robert Galbraith” is a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling.

Publisher Page

*

HarrisonK-D1-DrafterUKKim Harrison, THE DRAFTER (September 1st, Piatkus)

LIVE. DIE. REPEAT. 

Detroit 2030: Double-crossed by the person she loved and betrayed by the covert government organization that trained her to use her body as a weapon, Peri Reed is a renegade on the run. Don’t forgive and never forget has always been Peri’s creed. But her day job makes it difficult: she is a drafter, possessed of a rare, invaluable skill for altering time, yet destined to forget both the history she changed and the history she rewrote. 

When Peri discovers her name is on a list of corrupt operatives, she realizes that her own life has been manipulated by the agency. Her memory of the previous three years erased, she joins forces with a mysterious rogue soldier in a deadly race to piece together the truth about her fateful final task. With only her intuition to guide her, she’s on a vengeful mission to decide-who must she kill and who, including herself, can she trust?

Publisher Page

*

KnightJ-D1-Swords&ScoundrelsJulia Knight, SWORDS AND SCOUNDRELS (October 8th, Orbit)

The first book in the Duellist’s trilogy — a fast-paced adventure from one of the most exciting new British talents in fantasy

Gold is for fools, and dying is for amateurs… 

Vocho and Kacha are champion duellists: a brother and sister known for the finest swordplay in the city of Reyes. Or at least they used to be — until they were thrown out of the Duellist’s Guild. 

Now all that’s left to them is to become reluctant highwaymen. Well — it’s a living, and for Vocho it’s a way to win back some form of notoriety. But when they pick the wrong carriage to rob, their simple plans to win back fame and fortune go south fast. 

After facing down three armed men and barely besting a powerful magician, Vocho and Kacha make off with an immense locked chest. Vocho is convinced it must be worth a fortune, perhaps enough to buy him and his sister back the lives he lost for them when he inadvertently killed a priest. 

But the contents of the chest will bring them much more than they’ve bargained for — when they soon find themselves embroiled in a dangerous plot to return an angry king to power…

Julia Knight is also known as Francis Knight, the author of the Rojan Dizon trilogy (which is very good). Details of the second book in the Duellists trilogy, Legends and Liars (November 5th), are here. The covers for all three novels in the series can be seen in all their glory here.

Publisher Page

*

LygaFacinelliDeFranco-AfterTheRedRainUKBarry Lyga, Peter Facinelli & Robert DeFranco, AFTER THE RED RAIN (August 27th, LB Young Readers)

A post-apocalyptic novel with a cinematic twist from New York Times bestseller Barry Lyga, actor Peter Facinelli, and producer Robert DeFranco.

On the ruined planet Earth, where 50 billion people are confined to mega-cities, and resources are scarce, Deedra has been handed a bleak and mundane existence by the Magistrate she works so hard for. But one day, she comes across a beautiful boy struggling to cross the river. A boy with a secretive past and special abilities, who is somehow able to find comfort and life from their dying planet. A boy with an unusual name… Rose.

But just as the two form a bond, it is quickly torn apart by the murder of the Magistrate’s son, and Rose becomes the prime suspect. Little do they know how much their relationship will affect the fate of everyone who lives on the planet.

Publisher Page

*

ValenteCM-RadianceUKCatherine M. Valente, RADIANT (October 20th, Corsair)

Severin Unck is the headstrong young daughter of a world famous film director. She has inherited her father’s love of the big screen but not his exuberant gothic style of filmmaking. Instead, Severin makes documentaries, artful and passionate and even rather brave – for she is a realist in a fantastic alternate universe, in which Hollywood occupies the moon, Mars is rife with lawless saloons, and the solar system contains all manner of creatures, cults and colonies. 

For Severin’s latest project she leads her crew to the watery planet of Venus to investigate the disappearance of a diving colony there. But something goes wrong during the course of their investigations; and her crew limp home without her.

All that remains of Severin are fragments. Can these snippets of scenes and shots, voices and memories, pages and recordings be collected and pieced together to tell the story of her life – and shed light on the mystery of her vanishing? 

Clever, dreamy, strange and beautifully written – Radiance is a novel about how stories give form to worlds.

Publisher Page

Review: DAY FOUR by Sarah Lotz (Hodder)

LotzS-2-DayFourUKThe superb sequel to The Three

Four planes. Three survivors. One message. It seemed like the end of the world… but it wasn’t. This, however, just might be.

The trip of their dreams becomes the holiday of their nightmares…

Four days into a five day singles cruise on the Gulf of Mexico, the ageing ship Beautiful Dreamer stops dead in the water. With no electricity and no cellular signals, the passengers and crew have no way to call for help. But everyone is certain that rescue teams will come looking for them soon. All they have to do is wait.

That is, until the toilets stop working and the food begins to run out. When the body of a woman is discovered in her cabin the passengers start to panic. There’s a murderer on board the Beautiful Dreamer… and maybe something worse.

The Three was easily one of my favourite books of last year. Day Four is the highly-anticipated follow-up, and I’m happy to report that it does not disappoint. Lotz has easily become one of my favourite authors. Continue reading

New Books: March #1

StrokeTheBooks

Or, “Lordy, 2015 is shaping up to be an incredible year for books…”

Featuring: John Joseph Adams, Richard Beard, Paul Beatty, Patricia Briggs, Col Buchanan, John Connelly, Rjurik Davidson, Joshua Gaylord, Dave Gross, Kazuo Ishiguro, Edan Lepucki, Robert Levy, Tom Lloyd, George R.R. Martin & Gardener Dozois, Stephen Metcalfe, Kristen Painter, Alastair Reynolds, Kim Stanley Robinson, V.E. Schwab, Lavie Tidhar, Marc Turner Continue reading