Welcome to the April edition of the Fiction Newsletter featuring the top reads from across all Fiction genres. This month’s “other genres” features historical novels, tales about people and places from the time of Spartacus to the not too distant past, with a novelisation of the Watergate scandal.
New contemporary fiction that includes two great suspense thrillers, the latest from Harlan Coben, Stay close and translated from German, The Matress House by best selling author Paulus Hochgatterer.
Stay close / Harlan Coben.
“Megan Pierce has a closet full of skeletons that have been hidden for years. The fast life she once lived as a dancer in Atlantic City has been replaced with a life in the New Jersey suburbs, two children, and a loving husband. Yearning for the thrills of her former life, Megan pays what she believes to be an incognito visit to her former haunt. Her path soon crosses with Detective Broome, who is deep in the case of a man missing for 17 years and facing the possibility of a serial killer. Megan is forced to expose her racy past and reconnect with former lovers in order to help Broome put an end to the violence.” – (adapted from Syndetics Summary)
From the memoirs of a non-enemy combatant / Alex Gilvarry.
“Written as a confession from his cell, this is the story of how Boy Hernandez, a recent graduate of design school in Manila, moves to New York to become the next big thing in fashion but ends up being dragged out of his loft by federal agents and sent to Guantanamo Bay. There he’s accused of terrorist connections and given a Koran, though he’s a lapsed Catholic. Boy is far too fabulous to let indefinite detainment destroy him.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)
The mattress house : a Kovacs & Horn investigation / Paulus Hochgatterer ; translated from the German by Jamie Bulloch.
“Hysteria breaks out in the idyllic town of Furth am See: a young man falls to his death from scaffolding; then a beaten child is brought in to the police, soon followed by others showing similar signs of abuse. The authorities are put under serious pressure to find the perpetrators, but with the child victims too terrified to talk, neither Criminal Commissioner Kovacs nor psychiatrist Raffael Horn seem able to make any headway. The struggle to unlock what lies behind these ritualistic beatings also opens the lid on the topical issue of the physical punishment of children.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)
Selected Graphic novels this month includes two must reads Oil and Water — the compelling story of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill by Steve Duin and Shannon Wheeler, and Jason Shiga’s lates Empire State: a love story(or not).
The adventures of Hergé / José-Louis Bocquet, Jean-Luc Fromental ; illustrated by Stanislas Barthélémy ; translated by Helge Dascher.
“Georges Prosper Remi, the world-famous “Herge” of Tintin authorship, himself becomes the subject of a comic drawn in his trademark clear-line color. More an homage than a formal biography, this collection of mostly four-page episodes evokes high points of the artist’s colorful life: an early obsession with drawing, a boy scout rescue in the Alps, a first job with Le XXe Siecle newspaper, a first concept for his boyish reporter/detective hero, the ascent to fame, the romantic and professional complications that followed, friendship with a Chinese artist, censure as a possible Nazi collaborator, exoneration and maturity, and then death.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)
Oil & water / Steve Duin, author ; Shannon Wheeler, artist.
“Four months after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a small group of Oregonians traveled to the Gulf Coast to assess the damage. In this graphic-novel recounting of their expedition, we follow the well-intentioned but naive activists as they meet scientists, crabbers, bird rehabilitators, the local head of Homeland Security (found shark fishing on a beach), and other locals whose lives were roiled by the disaster. Details of the devastation are conveyed mostly through interviews with those personally affected and dry text pages. As for the human element, vignettes portraying the residents and their experiences are more compelling than the (apparently fictionalized) sequences featuring the clueless outsiders.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)
Empire State : a love story (or not) / Jason Shiga.
“Empire State is a graphic novel with a bold visual approach and chronology and a timeless story: the vagaries of love and friendship and the mish-mash of both. Jimmy is a twenty-something, stereotypical geek who’s living at home in Oakland, working at the library, and trapped in his own torpidity. When his best girl friend Sara (a girl and a friend, but not a girlfriend) declares she’s moving to New York City to get a life (translation: an apartment in Brooklyn and a publishing internship), Jimmy is rattled, then lonely and then desperate. He gathers up his courage, writes Sara a letter about his true feelings for her, and asks her to meet him at the top of the Empire State Building.” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)
In this selection of new mysteries for April the weirdly titled Death by killer mop doll by Lois Winston has been included, plus the new Jo Nesbo and Walter Mosley for very serious mystery readers.
Death by killer mop doll / Lois Winston.
“An overworked, underpaid crafts editor at a women’s magazine, Anastasia Pollock has no peace at home, either…Her mother is recently engaged to an executive of the magazine’s corporate owner, jubilant that he is pursuing her idea for a new reality TV show involving the magazine’s editors. More work, no more pay for Anatasia, whose assignment for the pilot is to build a program around making mop dolls, a craft from an earlier decade. When the rag doll samples are trashed, a Christmas angel mop doll, left at the scene, suggests an inside job. A few days later, the Valentine mop doll is found at the scene of a murder. Anastasia is a crafting Stephanie Plum, surrounded by characters sure to bring chuckles as she careens through the narrative, crossing paths with the detectives assigned to the case and snooping around to solve it…” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)
All I did was shoot my man / Walter Mosley.
“In Mosley’s fourth Leonid McGill mystery (after 2011’s When the Thrill Is Gone), the best in the series to date, the New York City PI tries to atone for a misdeed from his checkered past. Eight years earlier, McGill helped frame Zella Grisham for a part in the biggest Wall Street robbery in history-$58 million stolen from Rutgers Assurance Corp. Zella was guilty of shooting her man, Harry Tangelo, when she found him in bed with her best friend, Minnie Lesser, but the eight years she served were due to the frame, not the shooting. McGill manages to get Zella released, setting in motion a chain of deadly events. Meanwhile, his difficult family life reaches full boil with each of his three adult children, Twill, Dimitri, and Shelly, as well as with his hard-drinking wife, Katrina. Unraveling the truth behind the robbery and the unrecovered millions tests McGill’s skills to the utmost in this complex, satisfying entry…” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)
Phantom / Jo Nesbo ; translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett.
“Following from Jo Nesbø’s electrifying international best-sellers The Snowman and The Leopard, now comes Phantom, which plunges the brilliant, deeply troubled, now former police officer Harry Hole into a full-tilt investigation on which his own tenuous future will come to depend. When Harry left Oslo again for Hong Kong—fleeing the traumas of life as a cop—he thought he was there for good. But then the unthinkable happened. The son of the woman he loved, lost, and still loves is arrested for murder: Oleg, the boy Harry helped raise but couldn’t help deserting when he fled. Harry has come back to prove that Oleg is not a killer. Barred from rejoining the police force, he sets out on a solitary, increasingly dangerous investigation that takes him deep into the world of the most virulent drug to ever hit the streets of Oslo (and the careers of some of the city’s highest officials), and into the maze of his own past, where he will find the wrenching truth that finally matters to Oleg, and to himself.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)
Dark Eden by Chris Beckett, a highly reommended thrilling new Science Fiction novel tops the list of this month’s selections, along with Moxyland by Lauren Beukes, set in futuristic South Africa.
Dark Eden / Chris Beckett.
“You live in Eden. You are a member of the Family, one of 532 descendants of two marooned explorers. You huddle, slowly starving, beneath the light and warmth of geothermal trees, confined to one barely habitable valley of a startlingly alien, sunless world. After 163 years and six generations of incestuous inbreeding, the Family is riddled with deformity and feeblemindedness. Your culture is an infantile stew of half-remembered fact and devolved ritual that stifles innovation and punishes independent thought. You are John Redlantern. You will break the laws of Eden, shatter the Family and change history. You will be the first to abandon hope, the first to abandon the old ways, the first to kill another, the first to venture in to the Dark, and the first to discover the truth about Eden.” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)
Moxyland / Lauren Beukes
“A frighteningly persuasive, high-tech fable, this novel follows the lives of four narrators living in an alternative futuristic Cape Town, South Africa. An art-school dropout, and AIDS baby, a tech-activist and an RPG-obsessed blogger live in a world where your online identity is at least as important as your physical one. Getting disconnected is a punishment worse than imprisonment, but someone’s got to stand up to Government Inc., whatever the cost.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)
Aloha from Hell / Richard Kadrey.
“The third Sandman Slim contemporary noir fantasy. Lucifer has returned to Heaven, leaving a power vacuum in Hell. Mason, the magician whom half-angelic antihero James Stark recently killed, is more than willing to step into the breach, and soon he’s massing demonic forces to attack Heaven and possibly destroy the universe. Manipulating angels, demons, and the monstrous Kissi, Stark must head off a full-scale war, and if that means returning to Hell, he might as well do the Orpheus thing and rescue his dead girlfriend while he’s there. Fittingly, perhaps, Hell turns out to look a lot like Stark’s hometown, Los Angeles, on a very bad day.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)
The selection from Historical novels this month includes William Boyd’s much acclaimed, Waiting for sunrise and The House I loved by the author of Sarah’s key, Tatiana de Rosnay.
Waiting for sunrise / William Boyd.
“Vienna, 1913. As Lysander Rief, a young English actor, is waiting for his first appointment with the eminent psychiatrist Dr Bensimon, a young woman enters the waiting room. She is clearly in distress, but Lysander is immediately drawn to her strange, hazel eyes and her unusual, intense beauty. They begin a passionate love affair and life in Vienna becomes tinged with a powerful frisson of excitement for Lysander. Back in London, 1914. War is imminent, and events in Vienna have caught up with Lysander in the most damaging way. Unable to live an ordinary life, he is plunged into the dangerous theatre of wartime intelligence, a world of sex, scandal and spies, where lines of truth and deception blur with every waking day. Lysander must now discover the key to a secret code which is threatening Britain’s safety, and use all his skills to keep the murky world of suspicion and betrayal from invading every corner of his life.” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)
Watergate a novel / Thomas Mallon.
“Thomas Mallon conveys the drama and high comedy of the Nixon presidency through the urgent perspectives of seven characters we only thought we knew before now, moving readers from the private cabins of Camp David to the klieg lights of the Senate Caucus Room, from the District of Columbia jail to the Dupont Circle mansion of Theodore Roosevelt’s sharp-tongued ninety-year-old daughter, and into the hive of the Watergate complex itself, home not only to the Democratic National Committee but also to the president’s attorney general, his recklessly loyal secretary, and the shadowy man from Mississippi who pays out hush money to the burglars.” (adapted from Amazon.com summary)
The house I loved / Tatiana de Rosnay.
“Parisian Rose Bazelet is a woman in mourning, for her husband and son, both long dead; for her distant daughter; and because of Napoleon III’s ambitious urban planning agenda in the mid-19th century, an enormous project that could destroy her beloved family estate. With the planners already leveling nearby houses, Rose hides in her cellar and writes letters to her deceased husband about her struggle to save their home. As the letters continue, and destruction grows near, Rose remembers her married life. With the planners “rattling about at the entrance” and taking her friend Alexandrine, who has come to rescue her, by surprise, Rose reveals to her late husband the dark secret she could never bring herself to tell him when he was alive.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)