Booklists · Beyond Bestsellers: Notable New Fiction Titles (June 2010)
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.
He may have been given the nickname ï¿½Machine Gunï¿½, but George Kelly could barely shoot one. The real schemer behind his robberies was wife Kathryn. Atkinsï¿½ gritty, atmospheric novel tells the story of the Kellysï¿½ last caper ï¿½ the kidnapping of oilman Charles Urschel. With the Feds on his tail, partners wanting more than their share of the ransom cut, and his wife nattering away at him, ï¿½Machine Gunï¿½ spends 56 days traveling the Depression Era roads of the South and Midwest.
The 14 stories and 2 novellas collected in this anthology give readers a chance to peer into the mental backstage of author Ray Bradbury. Whether espousing a theme of government regulation or featuring banned literary characters exiled on another planet, every selection points toward the ultimate composition of one of science fictionï¿½s greatest works. Included in the writings is ï¿½The Firemanï¿½, which was lengthened and fleshed out to become the final product we know as Fahrenheit 451.
Inspecting colonial New England, French aristocrat Olivier finds much to dislike and beneath his dignity, especially the traveling companion his mother chose for him. But British manservant Parrot not only serves his young ward (aka ï¿½Lord Migraineï¿½), but spies for the French nobility. The two unlikely compatriots share adventures and a begrudgingly growing admiration. The sharply witty and observant prose in this novel is loosely based on Alexis de Tocquevilleï¿½s visit to the United States in the early 1830s.
Pekkala, once the most trusted of Tsar Nicolasï¿½ detectives and solver of the most impossible puzzles, is called back from his banishment in Siberia to investigate a case for the new government. Surprisingly, it is a case with close connections to him ï¿½ the murder of the Romanov family. Who performed the execution? Where are the bodies? Could one of the royal family have escaped? Is there a hidden treasure trove? This powerful debut begins a suspense series featuring the Emerald Eye now serving as Stalinï¿½s confidante.
By night, Ross Clifton is a jazz pianist, traveling the country. By early morning, Ross Clifton is a jewel thief, stealing from the ladies he seduces after his gigs. But by day, he cashes in on the wealth and distributes it around the more impoverished parts of town. When he has to take his teenage nephew in tow, the routine is interrupted and further complicated when Cray decides to follow in his uncleï¿½s vocation ï¿½ and not the musical one. Rossï¿½ romantic interest, jazz singer Marianne, is running her own scam, adding to the high jinks and quirky noir fun. Fitch is originally from Cincinnati.
In the 1990s, Haywood made a name for himself as a top crime writer with his Aaron Gunner series. Now after a decade he bursts back on the crime scene with a tale of reunion and redemption. When Errol ï¿½Handyï¿½ White goes to LA for the funeral of an old friend, he suspects that the death may be related to a botched revenge plot against a drug dealer perpetrated in his misspent youth. Handy realizes he may have to sacrifice some truths about his past as well as ruin a local politician to see justice done.
A master of the short story, Lee Smith has been compared to big-name Southern women writers but deserves the accolade in her own right. These 14 stories show her clarity of voice and pathos as she presents characters that will strike readers as familiar yet special. In particular Southern women are her strength as they deal with children and husbands, manners and bad taste, and dinners and celebrations. One reviewer sums the collection up as ï¿½always colorful, sometimes predictable and at its best profoundly moving.ï¿½
This debut novel won the Palanca Grand Prize, Philippinesï¿½ highest literary award, and the Man Asian Literary Award while still in manuscript form. Syjuco has melded reality and fiction, prose with blogs and emails and unfinished works, as he uses himself as a character in his own work ï¿½ a student of a much-heralded but now self-exiled Filipino author who is found dead before his masterpiece novel, a sharp critique of corruption in his native country, could be published. It is left for Salvadorï¿½s student, Syjuco, to legitimize his mentorï¿½s work.
Kaamos ï¿½ the Finnish word for polar darkness - a bleak, frigid fortnight with no hint of twilight. This setting for murder introduces a new Scandinavian crime fighter, Inspector Vaara. He is recently married, with a pregnant American wife who is not sure she can take the depressive effect of her husbandï¿½s hometown. Vaara is called to the job when the body of a young Somali immigrant actress is discovered in a snowy field. The leading suspect is the man Vaaraï¿½s ex-wife left him for, so it could get personal.
ï¿½90% of lightning strike victims survive.ï¿½ This and other facts are revealed in the handbook mentioned in the title of this debut novel. The handbook was written by Buckley Pitank, a lightning expert who witnessed his motherï¿½s death by a lightning strike when he was 13. Becca, first struck at age 8, has been lucky multiple times, at least when it comes to weather. The dual storyline follows these 2 survivors from their initial encounters with nature to their eventual meeting. Curiously compelling, making it a good book club choice.
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