Booklists · Featured List: Beyond Bestsellers: Notable New Fiction Titles (May 2013)
Only a few books reach the top of the fiction bestseller charts, but there are many more terrific new titles available at the Library. Here are some recent favorites.
In a novel that is part science fiction and part Stephen King chiller, Bennett introduces us to the residents of Wink, New Mexico through ex-cop Mona Bright who inherits her mother’s house in the seemingly non-existent town. Wink appears perfect, stuck in the atomic age when the research laboratory in town was the main source of the citizens’ livelihood. Even though a beautiful pink moon shines down nightly, no one goes out after dark. Mona wonders why her mother never mentioned Wink, all the while feeling the draw of the strange forces at work there.
Ben and Helen Armstead’s marriage has reached a dead end, but it just keeps chugging along until Ben’s actions with a summer intern finally push it over the edge. Helen returns to work, finding employment in a little PR firm where her unique talent for getting clients to issue apologies seems to be a wave of the future. Too bad she couldn’t work the same magic on her own husband. Dee was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his last novel, Privileges (2010), and his comments on contemporary life are always astute.
Harry and Maddy Winslow are a golden couple – he an award-winning author and she a charming hostess whose family cottage in East Hampton makes a great summer gathering place. Social circles expand and contract, and into the mix comes a young lady who falls under the allure of the couple. When Claire and Harry begin a passionate affair, it is the betrayal that ends the golden spell. The love story of tenderness, lust, and unspoken feelings is told by a third person narrator, bringing a personalization to the tale, akin to Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby.
The birth of contemporary Bangladesh is portrayed through the character of a young boy from an upper middle class family. Saadi grows up smothered in aunts, uncles, and friendly acquaintances as his life rotates between his home during the week and his grandparent’s house on the weekends. But these comforting, charming early vignettes give way to political changes as people disappear from his life and new faces come on the scene. Through the eyes of a child, the upheaval is tempered with innocence and the security of loved ones nearby.
Jack (although it’s doubtful that’s his real name) is a ghostman. His job is to clean up and disappear. When a casino robbery goes bad, an old employer calls Jack in to fix things before the payload literally goes up in smoke. Alternating between his current assignment and telling the background story of his connection with boss Marcus, Jack presents fascinating insider knowledge to pulling off big jobs and the risk involved. It’s only a few months into 2013, but this is being called the thriller of the year, with movie rights already sold.
A poor aspiring young writer becomes fast friends with a wealthier, more talented schoolmate who also wins the beautiful woman that both men love. Sentiment and stories within stories are part of this delightful first novel which one reviewer describes as “a veritable circus act … with literary allusions … like a small car stuffed with clowns, who then first burst forth to cavort and turn balloons into poodles.” With an unreliable narrator, how much truth can be contained in a work of fiction? “All these stories are true, only somewhere else.”
This spell-binding, mindful novel tells the story of two “time beings”, defined by the author as “someone who lives in time”. Ruth, a novelist, lives on an isolated Pacific Northwest island. She is working on a memoir when she finds a washed-ashore Hello Kitty lunchbox containing Nao’s diary. Nao was, at the time of writing, a Japanese teenager who planned to tell her grandmother’s story and then commit suicide. Zen philosophy blends with Japanese pop culture as Ruth reads Nao’s words and tries to bridge the reality of time between them.
David Ullman is a Columbia professor of literature; his specialty is John Milton, specifically Paradise Lost. But Ullman never believed that the demons of Milton’s poem really existed. But the demons are real, and they want Ullman. Human drama combines with the supernatural when Ullman sees his adolescent daughter possessed by the Unnamed, and the race is on to free her. Without getting heavy-handed on literary references, Ullman travels the country with his copy of Milton, seeking the clues that will free Tess from the demon’s grasp.
“Dr. Hoffman’s first case” as a subtitle bodes well for readers looking for new top-notch medical thriller authors. Having won the 2001 German prize for best debut crime novel, there are already three more installments waiting for translation into English. Berlin ER doctor Felix Hoffman wonders about a former patient’s sudden death. When he finds records that have been altered or are missing, his theory of a conspiracy seems likely as he works through, up, and down the ranks of the hospital management labyrinth.
Thomas’ debut novel is an engrossing historical mystery set in 1664 during the siege of York. As a midwife, Lady Bridget Hodgson has access to all classes of society and the sort of gossip that one hears while in attendance for many hours. When Esther Cooper is accused of murdering her husband and sentenced to burn at the stake, Bridget turns detective to clear her friend’s name. Joining forces with her servant Martha, Bridget dodges the military rebels and chaos in the city to help women in their time of need and bring the real murderer to trial.
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