Reading Recommendations · Beyond Bestsellers: Notable New Fiction Titles (May 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 passengers in the old Dodge are all returning to Chicago after Carmen and Rob’s wedding reception when they suddenly are connected by the tragic death of a ten-year-old girl struck by the car. For the next 25 years, the siblings and friends go on with their lives, always carrying the weight of the small girl in their souls. For Olivia, the driver, she spends time in prison. Alice becomes a successful artist but the paintings of a small girl are only for her private collection. Nick tries to reconnect with Olivia, but his drug addiction overpowers his desire for her.
British actor Lysander Rief is in Vienna to seek psychological help from a colleague of Sigmund Freud’s, but finds that his affair with a sculptress there is the cure he has needed. So successful is his recovery that he is accused of rape, and British officials help him devise an escape from jail. Having returned to England and the stage, Lysander is contacted by the men who helped him out in Vienna, recruiting him as a spy for the British government during World War I. This is an intellectual and more internalized story than the usual, plot-driven spy thriller.
It seems like Ty Hunter is just another James Bond reincarnation, but don’t let that make you pass on this top-notch action-packed thriller. Formerly an intelligence officer in the military, Ty Hunter is now the number one box office movie star in the world. He moves in those enchanted circles of the rich - film festivals, yachts in the Med, monster size homes in the Hollywood Hills, and gorgeous, intriguing women. When the President asks him personally to check out a lead on stolen nuclear warheads, Ty’s two worlds collide. Bill Clinton provides an introduction to his former college roommate’s new book.
Chaon’s last collection of short stories was a finalist for the National Book Award, and his latest novels have been great critical successes. This Oberlin College professor has a way of writing that hovers just a disturbingly slight step away from reality, keeping readers unbalanced and giving his writing a creepy factor that is more than the mere words alone can convey. There’s always a hint of a shadow, something hidden that may jump out and show itself or choose to remain elusively out of grasp.
Three characters tell of the very personal after effects of a US military operation gone wrong. Jonas, orphaned when a raid levels his village, is sent to the US to acclimate to life there. Christopher, a soldier in the attack, has gone missing since that time, but leaves behind a journal. Christopher’s mother won’t let her son’s disappearance go unsolved and meets with Jonas in hopes of getting some clues to follow. A very poignant comment on the realities of war, those stories that we see through a distance on our TVs and read about in the news.
John le Carré’s son whips up a genre-bending steampunk, new wave sci-fi, spy thriller that is tons of fun for those willing to get lost in a bizarre plot. Joe Spork is a mild-mannered clockmaker living in London who has long put his father’s gangster family and their influence in the past. “Older than the British Museum” Edie Banister leaves a clock-like contraption for repair. Who would suspect the nice old lady of being a retired secret agent? It seems the device is a 1950s era Doomsday Machine, working perfectly fine now and counting down to ultimate destruction.
“Who is to blame when a child goes astray? How long can a parent punish himself for the events of the past?” Dr. Paul Allen’s world goes all off-kilter when Secret Service agents show up at his door, telling him that his son just assassinated the Democratic candidate for President. Is there something that Paul missed during Daniel’s development? As a doctor used to diagnosing problems, he becomes a haunted ghost of his former self, obsessed with Presidential assassinations and wondering whether, as a parent, he could have prevented this tragedy.
Gabriella Mondini’s father has been gone 10 years, researching for The Book of Diseases that he is writing. In 16th century Italy, women are forbidden to practice medicine, but Gabriella had been allowed to work under her father’s supervision. When the guild finally decides to end her practice, Gabriella decides to try to find her father, following the postmarks on letters he has sent over the years. Beautiful, lyrical descriptions of Renaissance Europe convey the cultural tone of the times, as the plot follows Gabriella and her servants in their quest.
Real-life John Polidori is credited with writing the first vampire story, but in Powers’ book Polidori is the vampire. He’s haunting the family of Dante Gabriel and Christina Rossetti, looking for a bride while on a mission to take over London. The Rossetti family wants to end this cursed relationship, yet find that the spirit of their departed relative also serves as an inspiration for their artistic works. This historical fantasy is filled with period details, such as the Romantic Age’s fascination with ghostly communications and the powers of the dead, making for an intriguing yet creepy premise.
If you haven’t already discovered reluctantly recalled CIA agent Milo Weaver already, then read the first two books – The Tourist and The Nearest Exit – and dive into this third one which takes up right where the second book ends. When the CIA’s ultra-secret black-op Department of Tourism is wiped out by Chinese mastermind Xin Zhu, lucky survivor Milo Weaver is more than content to return to civilian life, but Milo’s boss is out for revenge. Since he’s using one of Milo’s aliases, Milo is drawn back into action whether he wants to be or not. This series gets better with every book.
Need more suggestions? Contact your local branch and our staff will be happy to assist you!