Reading Recommendations · Beyond Bestsellers: Notable New Fiction Titles (March 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.
Fans of historicals like The Girl with the Pearl Earring and Girl in Hyacinth Blue will enjoy this journey back to Belle Époque Paris and the world of the ballet. The narrative is divided evenly between two sisters. Antoinette, the oldest, takes walk-on roles in opera and theater productions but gets involved with a young man of questionable reputation. Marie, the middle daughter in the family, is serious, industrious, but not as graceful as her younger sister, Charlotte. Art lovers will recognize Marie, immortalized in bronze, as Degas’ Little Dancer Aged Fourteen.
It’s hard not to love the Grassos, an Italian-American family with big hearts and a tendency to meddle in each other’s lives. In their 50 years in the U.S., Maddelena and Antonio have revered their heritage, taught their children the same, but never visited the Old County. Daughter Prima surprises everyone with airline tickets and an enthusiastic plan to see Santa Cecilia, the birthplace of her parents. Rather than being excited and grateful, Maddelena balks at seeing her estranged siblings again. Now her children wonder what could have happened in the past.
It’s been three years since the last Gideon Oliver book, a forensic series that has won every possible award in the mystery genre, so it’s time to toast the newest one. Gideon and his wife are in Florence, Italy where the anthropologist is a featured speaker at an international gathering. When a previous homicide-murder case become a teachable moment for Gideon’s presentation on using skeletons to solve police cases, the bones don’t lead him to the same conclusion as the original police report. Bentornato (welcome back), Gideon!
Gavin continues the story from his debut novel, Ranchero. At the end of that tale, repo-man Nick Reid and his friend Desmond had “liberated some money” from a meth dealer. Like all newly wealthy men, they are now looking for an investment and a chance to see their cash grow. Not the keenest businessmen, they get involved with Desmond’s ex-brother-in-law in a stolen tire scheme. In classic Delta noir style, everyone is related to someone who got conned. The chase for justice, including the local Smokeys and a female ninja, is hilariously snarled.
A complex and intense relationship of characters unfolds through a multitude of literary devices – epistles, diary entries, episodic installments, and multiple viewpoints in multiple time periods. Camille is sifting through letters of condolence when she opens a note that seems unrelated. It begins the story of Annie, the true love of Louis’ life. Every Tuesday another segment arrives in the mail. Annie’s story is the tale of a young girl during World War II and her relationship with a childless couple. Camille starts to wonder what could be the personal connection to her.
“Meet Austin Clay, the CIA’s best-kept secret.” If you enjoy the kind of good, old spy novels where the Russians are the bad guys, this is the book for you. Black Ops spook Clay is sent to Europe to retrieve an operative who has been captured. He’s ordered to make an exchange, a young Hungarian woman that he has located and the Russians want, but he decides he can spring his fellow agent and save the beautiful woman from torture and a certain death. She doesn’t know that the information she keeps secret reveals the name of a mole in the CIA’s leadership.
Kimmel’s debut novel explores the idea of purgatory and a reckoning for the souls of men. Arriving at a lay-by station, attorney Brek Cutler is summoned to defend souls who await final judgment. As part of her exploratory research, she must channel the defendant’s life which is an exhausting and burdening task. Assigned rather than chosen, her clients seem random but soon it is evident that they are all relevant to Brek and decisions that affected her life. Not an easy read, this metaphysical exploration delves into religious foundations and the codependence of society.
Cincinnati’s own prolific master of science fiction joins McDermott to write a “what if” thriller about the Apollo space program. In a not-too-distant setting, the space program has dwindled to a museum of historical events. Press agent Jerry Culpepper is still loyal to NASA despite recruitment efforts from a business tycoon who wants to build his own moon program. Then Jerry’s world is rocked by a few words on a recently declassified recording indicating a probable conspiracy to cover up information about the first moon landing.
Like everything else Peter Mayle writes, this mystery series is delightful and oozing with local charm. After a successful wine heist in The Vintage Caper, Sam Levitt certainly never expected to see the mark again, but there Reboul is in Los Angeles, wanting to hire Sam for his own job. Accompanied by the lovely Elena, Sam returns to Provence to front a real estate deal for seaside property in Marseille. The British competitor for the same development feels a need to improve his odds. When attempts at bribery and intimidation don’t work, Wapping resorts to kidnapping.
Acclaimed in London’s Daily Mail as a “stream of consciousness tour de force…a sardonic critique of the woefully misdirected treatment of the mentally ill and the futility of war, and above all, a summation of the human condition”, Self’s latest novel made the short list for Britain’s Man Booker literary award last year. Narration shifts between the psychiatrist Zachary Busner and a catatonic patient who has been institutionalized for almost 50 years. When Busner finds a treatment, his patient reveals secrets leading to the conclusion she was alert all that time.
Need more suggestions? Contact your local branch and our staff will be happy to assist you!