January 2012

Reading Recommendations · Beyond Bestsellers: Notable New Fiction Titles (January 2012)

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.

The Hum and the Shiver

Alex Bledsoe
Bronwyn Hyatt, nicknamed the �Bronwynator�, is treated to a hero�s welcome when she returns to her small hometown in the hills of Tennessee. Badly hurt in Iraq, she knows her physical wounds will mend, but she has also lost her ability to make music, an innate and magical gift among her people, the Tufas. An elf-like ethnic group, the Tufas have been in the area since before settlers came. Recovering her musical abilities is key since Bronwyn�s mother has seen death omens and needs to pass her songs on to her daughter.

Long Gone

Alafair Burke
Alice Humphrey�s life has taken a turn for the better. She has just become the manager of a new art gallery in a trendy area of New York City. But then one morning she arrives to find the gallery empty, except for the dead body of the man who hired her. As her life starts to spin out of control, Alice realizes that she has been set up but has no idea why or by whom. This is nail-biting suspense by the daughter of James Lee Burke, with a whopper of a surprise ending.

The Night Train

Clyde Edgerton
In Edgerton�s �homey, honeyed southern voice�, he pens a tale of two teenage boys in 1963 rural North Carolina who bond over music. Train tracks running through the middle of town literally segregate the population, but black Larry (jazz) and white Dwayne (rock and roll) bridge the divide over James Brown�s Live at the Apollo. Soul becomes the glue in the friendship as Larry coaches Dwayne�s band for an upcoming performance, but town folk don�t approve of the friendship or the music.

The Printmaker�s Daughter

Katherine Govier
Set in 19th century Japan, the golden age of the Edo period, this lavishly detailed story presents the problem of an artistically talented young lady who does not conform to society�s expectations. Through the sketches and prints of the famous artist Hokusai, the reader is taken behind the curtain of polite society to the bohemian life of artists, courtesans, and performers. Oei, Hokusai�s youngest daughter, inherits her father�s talent and becomes his assistant (�ghost brush�) as old age and palsy cripple his hands.

The Ballad of Tom Dooley

Sharyn McCrumb
�Hang down your head, Tom Dooley. Poor boy, you�re bound to die.� In the spirit of oral storytelling, McCrumb spins a tale straight from the hills as part of her ballad series. Did ex-Confederate soldier Tom Dula kill Laura Foster, or was it his married lover, Ann Melton, or both of them together? McCrumb gives a first person narration from both Ann�s cousin and the former Governor of North Carolina who led Tom�s prosecution team. A tale of love, jealousy, and Appalachian woe.


Deon Meyer
In his homeland of South Africa, Meyer is the leading writer of crime fiction and �has few equals when it comes to combining biting social critique and riveting action scenes.� This layered story has three plots that touch on South African issues (animal smuggling and poaching, the secret societies of the government, and the underlying terrorist threats to the country) before converging into one. Suspense slowly builds, drawing the reader into multiple facets of contemporary threats to the newly emerging country.

Thick as Thieves

Peter Spiegelman
All con artists dream of the ultimate heist � the big one that will set them up for life. Ex-CIA operative Carr is brought in to lead a gang that seems to be set up for just that � relieving a Wall Street fat cat of a few gazillion dollars and then disappearing for all time. Super-sharp writing brings this caper novel to the top of the burglary plots with lots of surveillance which gives us time to get to know the characters and their backgrounds, and enough paranoia among the group to set up a surprise ending that will blindside you.

Stone Arabia

Dana Spiotta
While we may put on a public face, our siblings are the people who know us best and are rarely fooled. So it is with Nik and Denise � while he seems perhaps a bit of a whacko to the outside world, Denise believes he really is a musical genius. She should know since he�s become so reclusive that Denise is the only audience he allows to experience his art. He�s simply not understood, but as Denise faces her mother�s dementia, she starts to wonder about her brother too. A perceptive and creative look at sibling relationships.

Fun and Games

Duane Swierczynski
�Are you ready for some fun and games?� If Die Hard is one of your favorite movies, Swierczynski is going to become one of your favorite authors. Charlie Hardie, nicknamed Unkillable Chuck by the Philly newspapers, is off the force and doing some housesitting when a job in LA lands him in a scheme to kill a Hollywood action starlet. It�s an explosive, adrenaline-filled ride. After devouring this one, you�ll want to check out Hell and Gone, and wait for Point and Shoot to be published in March to complete the trilogy.

The Barbarian Nurseries

H�ctor Tobar
The shaky status of immigrants and pressure from the economic downturn of upscale life in California�s OC come together in this story from Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Tobar. When marital difficulties overwhelm Scott and Maureen, unknown to each other they coincidentally take a break from home life, leaving their Mexican domestic maid with their two sons. After two days and no word from her employers, Araceli decides to take the boys and seek out their grandfather but ends up arrested for kidnapping.
Need more suggestions? Contact your local branch and our staff will be happy to assist you!