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

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.

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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

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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.

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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: RED LONDON by Alma Katsu (G. P. Putnam’s Sons)

KatsuA-RW2-RedLondonUSHCThe New Cold War continues, as CIA agent Lyndsey Duncan travels to London, and infiltrates the world of the Russian Oligarchs in Britain

CIA agent Lyndsey Duncan has a new asset to turn, in order to prevent the most calculated global invasion of our time. But will their blossoming friendship get in the way?

After an explosive takedown of a well-placed mole within the CIA, agent Lyndsey Duncan has been tasked with keeping tabs on her newest Russian asset, deadly war criminal Dmitri Tarasenko. She arrives in London fully focused on the assignment at hand, until her MI6 counterpart, Davis Ranford, the very person responsible for ending her last mission overseas after they were caught in a whirlwind affair, personally calls for her.

After a suspicious attack on a powerful Russian oligarch’s property on Billionaires’ Row in the toniest neighborhood in London, Davis needs Lyndsey to cozy up to the billionaire’s aristocratic British wife, Emily Rotenberg. Lyndsey’s job is to obtain any and all information related to Emily’s husband, Mikhail Rotenberg, and his relationship with the new Russian president, whom CIA and MI6 believe is responsible for the sudden mysterious disappearance of his predecessor, the Hard Man. Fortunately for Lyndsey, there’s little to dissuade Emily from taking in a much-needed confidante. After all, misery needs company.

But before Lyndsey can cover much ground with her newfound friend, the CIA unveils a perturbing connection between Mikhail and Russia’s geopolitical past, one that could dangerously upend the world order as we know it. As the pressure to turn Emily becomes higher than ever, Lyndsey must walk a fine and ever-changing line to keep the oligarch’s fortune from falling into Russian hands and plunging the world into a new, disastrous geopolitical reality.

In Red London, the highly-anticipated sequel to Red Widow, CIA agent Lyndsey Duncan has been stationed in London to help out with an evolving situation involving a Russian oligarch who may or may not be on the outs with the new president. One of my most-anticipated novels of the year, I’m happy to report that it lived up to my high expectations. Continue reading

Upcoming: NIGHT ANGEL NEMESIS & Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks (Orbit)

WeeksB-NA4-NightAngelNemesisWay back in the mists of time (2008), when I was but a wee new book reviewer, Orbit Books were kind enough to send me a certain debut novel: The Way of Shadows, the first novel in Brent Weeks‘s Night Angel trilogy. I was still relatively new to the “modern” fantasy genre, only just venturing into the land of grimdark and non-Elves-and-Dwarves or shared universe fantasy (e.g., Warhammer). I remember blitzing through The Way of Shadows, eager to read the rest of the series. (If I remember correctly, I think I pestered the poor Orbit publicist quite a bit for the next book… Apologies!) Anyway, why am I sharing this? Well, it was recently announced that Weeks is going to return to the world of the Night Angel trilogy, with Night Angel Nemesis! Here’s the synopsis:

Return to the world of the Night Angel, and follow master assassin Kylar on a new adventure as the High King Logan Gyre calls on him to save his kingdom and the hope of peace.

After the war that cost him so much, Kylar Stern is broken and alone. He’s determined not to kill again, but an impending amnesty will pardon the one murderer he can’t let walk free. He promises himself this is the last time. One last hit to tie up the loose ends of his old, lost life.

But Kylar’s best–and maybe only–friend, the High King Logan Gyre, needs him. To protect a fragile peace, Logan’s new kingdom, and the king’s twin sons, he needs Kylar to secure a powerful magical artifact that was unearthed during the war.

With rumors that a ka’kari may be found, adversaries both old and new are on the hunt. And if Kylar has learned anything, it’s that ancient magics are better left in the hands of those he can trust.

If he does the job right, he won’t need to kill at all. This isn’t an assassination—it’s a heist.

But some jobs are too hard for an easy conscience, and some enemies are so powerful the only answer lies in the shadows. Continue reading

Upcoming: by Tom Hanks THE MAKING OF ANOTHER MAJOR MOTION PICTURE MASTERPIECE (Knopf/Hutchinson Heinemann)

HanksT-MakingOfAnotherMajorMotionPictureMasterpieceUSHCAnnounced just a few days ago, Tom Hanks‘s new novel The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece is due out next year! Reading the synopsis, it’s almost as if the actor/author asked me what kind of novel I’d like him to write… This really does sound tailor-mode for my fiction interests. Here’s the synopsis:

A novel about the making of a star-studded, multimillion-dollar superhero action film… and the humble comic books that inspired it. Funny, touching, and wonderfully thought-provoking, while also capturing the changes in America and American culture since World War II.

Part One of this story takes place in 1947. A troubled soldier, returning from the war, meets his talented five-year-old nephew, leaves an indelible impression, and then disappears for twenty-three years.

HanksT-MakingOfAnotherMajorMotionPictureMasterpieceUKHCCut to 1970: The nephew, now drawing underground comic books in Oakland, California, reconnects with his uncle and, remembering the comic book he saw when he was five, draws a new version with his uncle as a World War II fighting hero. 

Cut to the present day: A commercially successful director discovers the 1970 comic book and decides to turn it into a contemporary superhero movie.

Cue the cast: We meet the film’s extremely difficult male star, his wonderful leading lady, the eccentric writer/director, the producer, the gofer production assistant, and everyone else on both sides of the camera.

The book will also be published with bonus material: “Interspersed throughout are three comic books that are featured in the story — all created by Tom Hanks himself — including the comic book that becomes the official tie-in to this novel’s ‘major motion picture masterpiece.'” I really can’t wait to read this. The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece is due to be published by Knopf in North America and Hutchinson Heinemann in the UK, on May 9th, 2023.

Follow the Author: Goodreads, Instagram

Upcoming: WITCH KING by Martha Wells (Tor.com)

WellsM-WitchKingUSHCWitch King was announced quite some time ago, but with the newly-unveiled cover hitting the internet a couple days ago (maybe yesterday?), I wanted to feature it on CR. Martha Wells is the author, of among other excellent books and stories, the acclaimed Murderbot Diaries (also published by Tor.com). Witch King, the author’s first new fantasy novel since 2017’s The Harbors of the Sun, it is the first in an entirely new setting. Here’s the synopsis:

“I didn’t know you were a… demon.”
“You idiot. I’m the demon.”

After being murdered, his consciousness dormant and unaware of the passing of time while confined in an elaborate water trap, Kai wakes to find a lesser mage attempting to harness Kai’s magic to his own advantage. That was never going to go well.

But why was Kai imprisoned in the first place? What has changed in the world since his assassination? And why does the Rising World Coalition appear to be growing in influence?

Kai will need to pull his allies close and draw on all his pain magic if he is to answer even the least of these questions.

He’s not going to like the answers.

Witch King is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on May 30th, 2023. I really can’t wait to read this.

Also on CR: Reviews of All Systems Red, Artificial Condition, Rogue Protocol, Exit Strategy, Network Effect, and Fugitive Telemetry

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: HONOR AMONG THIEVES (Paramount)

This trailer has been doing the rounds ever since it was unveiled at Comic-Con. The past attempts to make a D&D movie have not been stellar successes, but I have my fingers crossed for this one. (Interesting fact, perhaps: I’ve never played D&D.) Starring Chris Pine and Michelle Rodriguez, Hugh Grant and more. This looks like a lot of fun.

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is due to be released by Paramount Pictures in March 2023.

Dungeons&Dragons-HonorAmongThieves_Poster