Reading Recommendations · Beyond Bestsellers: Notable New Fiction Titles (January 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.
At the beginning of this novel, Alexander Cleave’s past is much more alive than his present. Haunted by his daughter’s suicide and preoccupied with reveling in an affair he had in his teens with his best friend’s mother, his thoughts are turned inward. Then he receives a script, and a chance to act again brings him into the contemporary world. Banville, a Man Booker winner, is “a writer of exquisite precision and emotional depth.” Long lengthy paragraphs explore the musings of a man obsessed with his own being and the lies that fostered his acting talent.
Three girls from a small village finish school and fulfill their obligatory service in the Israeli army. More worried about partying and gossip before graduating, the girls separate and train in their new duties. Although Israel is always on the brink of war, in the positions where they are placed females are more likely to die of boredom and tedium than gunfire. Boianjiu has been named one of the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” authors to watch. Her debut novel presents three strong narrative voices and is based on her mandatory service experience.
Clark hits the highlights of Victorian English society with this story based on a real political couple. Edward Campbell Lowe is a liberal-minded Member of Parliament whose wife, Maribel, has been a great asset in his social status. But Maribel is not the Parisian-educated Chilean heiress that she claims to be. The beginnings of sensational journalism are just surfacing in London, and one reporter fixates on learning just who Maribel really is. Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and the new curious art of photography add to the authenticity of the cultural setting.
Taking a job cataloging rare musical manuscripts in a castle in Prague, Sarah Weston hopes to solve the mysterious identity of the intended receiver of Beethoven’s letter to “Immortal Beloved.’ What she discovers instead is a time-traveling drug provided by a 400-year-old dwarf, a sensual romantic relationship with the current prince, and thresholds to black magic in the dark and shadow-filled streets of Prague’s old city. This is a novel that’s hard to define — romance, thriller, paranormal — a bit of spice, suspense, and surprise.
Higashino is Japan’s best-selling author and is quickly commanding an international audience. If you didn’t read his wonderful Edgar nominee, The Devotion of Suspect X, get a copy of it and this one, the second outing for the investigative team of Kusanagi and Yukawa (aka Detective Galileo). The wife imagines poisoning her husband. The husband tells the wife he wants a divorce. The husband is dead—poisoned—but the wife is hundreds of miles away. Is it the perfect crime? A cerebral puzzle with appeal for fans who enjoy a little arsenic with their coffee.
The premise is not new, someone being declared dead so they are then free to investigate a murder, but the tension is white-knuckle from the beginning. Mild-mannered market researcher Arthur Cathcart recovers from a bullet in the head only to declare revenge on the hit man who killed his wife and left him for dead. Because of his background, he is a whiz at online research which is good because physically he still has a long way to go. Chalk this one up for the nerds as he analyzes the local underground criminal scene. Sequel seems likely.
Move over Big Ben because the steampunk genre is traveling to feudal Japan. This first book in a new fantasy series finds a father-daughter team on a seemingly suicidal task. The egotistical shogun has demanded an arashitora, a half-tiger/half-eagle creature long thought to be extinct. The master hunter and his teenage daughter set out on the quest, revealing the young Yukiko’s hidden talent which will save her country from ultimate ruin. Wildly imaginative, steeped in lots of atmospheric detail, this book will leave readers awaiting the next installment.
Like Billy the Kid and Bonnie and Clyde, bank robber Willie Sutton advanced from common criminal to American legend. Sutton, the subject of this historical biography, was famous for saying “No one gets hurt,” and escaped from three different prisons including the famed Sing Sing in New York. He robbed banks from the late 1920s to the early 1950s, ended up spending about half of his life in jail, and even appeared in credit card commercials after being pardoned by Nelson Rockefeller on Christmas Eve 1969. A fascinating tale of a folk hero.
Library Journal’s review of this short story anthology says “Every new collection from the incomparable Munro, winner of the Man Booker International Prize for her lifetime body of work, is cause for celebration. This new volume offers all the more reason to celebrate as it ends with four stories the author claims are the most autobiographical she has written.” Spanning the decades between World War II and the 1980s, characters deal with the shift in traditional roles of men and women. Munro is surely the best short story writer of our time.
Thirteenth-century England is the setting for this tale of fantasy, history, and the supernatural. A group of four travellers, led by Irish healer Molly, is trying to outrun the cold weather and reach warmer climes. Every time the group takes refuge from the winter threats, unspeakable horror occurs. Finally taking up residence in Castle Blanchefontaine they realize that the monster, a shape-shifting beserker, has accompanied them. “Not for the faint of heart, this pulse-pounding page-turner grabs you from the start and never lets you go.”
Need more suggestions? Contact your local branch and our staff will be happy to assist you!