Saturday, January 31, 2009

"The Dead Man's Brother"

New from Hard Case Crime: The Dead Man's Brother by Roger Zelazny.

About the book, from the publisher:

Once an art smuggler, now a respectable art dealer, Ovid Wiley awoke to find his former partner stabbed to death on his gallery floor. That was strange enough—but when a CIA agent showed up to spring him from NYPD custody, things got a lot stranger.

Now the CIA is offering to clear up the murder charge, but only in return for a favor: They want Ovid to fly to Vatican City and trace the trail of a renegade priest who has gone missing with millions in church funds. What’s the connection? The priest’s lover, a woman Ovid knew in his smuggling days...
Read a sample chapter from The Dead Man's Brother.

"The Musician's Daughter"

New from Bloomsbury USA: The Musician's Daughter by Susanne Dunlap.

About the book, from the publisher:

Theresa Marie apprentices herself to the composer Haydn in order to learn who murdered her father. This lush, intriguing romance immerses the reader in the period, taking them from the halls of Vienna’s imperial family to a perilous gypsy camp, uncovering blackmail and extortion, as well as young love, and family loyalty.

Amid the glamour of Prince Nicholas Esterhazy’s court in 18th-century Vienna, murder is afoot. Or so fifteen-year-old Theresa Maria is convinced when her musician father turns up dead on Christmas Eve, his valuable violin missing, and the only clue to his death a strange gold pendant around his neck. Then her father’s mentor, the acclaimed composer Franz Joseph Haydn, helps her through a difficult time by making her his copyist and giving her insight in to her father’s secret life. It’s there that Theresa begins to uncover a trail of blackmail and extortion, even as she discovers honor—and the possibility of a first, tentative love. Thrumming with the weeping strains of violins, as well as danger and deception, this is an engrossing tale of murder, romance, and music that readers will find hard to forget.
Visit Susanne Dunlap's website and blog.

Friday, January 30, 2009

"Rupture"

New from Oceanview Publishing: Rupture by A. Scott Pearson.

About the book, from the publisher:

Well on his way to realizing his dream of becoming a successful surgeon-scientist, Eli Branch seems destined for academic stardom. After years of research, Eli is on the cusp of a groundbreaking discovery that could light the way for the future. But, as Eli will soon learn, today’s medicine has a dark side.

While investigating the suspicious death of one of his patients, Eli uncovers an elaborate web of lies spun by his late father, a longtime professor of anatomy at Mid-South Medical College in Memphis. Instead of finding answers, Eli only finds more questions–and more victims, each meeting a sudden, violent end.

Eli joins forensic pathologist Meg Daily to find a common thread among the victims. As they piece together the chilling puzzle, Eli and Meg plunge headfirst into the world of deadly medicine–a world way too close to home.

Trapped in the paradox of ending one life to save another, Eli and Meg find that in this life-or-death race against time, one false step could be fatal.

"Jack London in Paradise"

New from Simon & Schuster: Jack London in Paradise by Paul Malmont.

About the book, from the publisher:

Jack London.

The name stands for adventure.

Explorer. Social activist. Romantic. Self-educated genius. White Fang. Call of the Wild. Martin Eden. The Sea-Wolf. Generations worldwide have been thrilled by his tales, probably never realizing how true to life they really were. He did not imagine the hardships and brutality of life in the Yukon, on the high seas, or in the back alleys of Oakland. He lived them. Few men were his equal and only one woman ever fully captivated his heart. By the time he was forty, no American was more famous. And in the winter of 1915, the great writer set sail on one last adventure.

But in this story of that adventure, he is being hunted.

Hobart Bosworth -- an aging matinee idol and filmmaker -- is desperate for one more Jack London picture to save his career. Hollywood machinations have driven a wedge between him and his old friend. He has tracked Jack and his wife, Charmian, from the mysterious ruins of their once-magnifi cent Wolf House across the Pacific to the volcanic islands of Hawaii. The Jack London he finds here is a man half mad with visions, a man struggling with the ghosts of his past, the erotic temptations of the island paradise, and his own wolfl ike nature.

Now Hobart's original goal -- to save his studio -- has become a desperate struggle to save his friend and preserve the icon he has become. With or without Charmian London's help.

A romantic novel of sweeping passions and raw adventure set against an unforgettable, sultry backdrop, Jack London in Paradise vividly imagines the last year in the life of a legendary man nearly everyone knows about, but few actually know.
Visit Paul Malmont's website and blog.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

"Water Dogs"

New from Random House: Water Dogs by Lewis Robinson.

About the book, from the publisher:

Lewis Robinson’s critically acclaimed story collection Officer Friendly was described by the San Francisco Chronicle as “eleven letter-perfect stories with the keen understanding of human nature readers expect to find in works by veterans like Alice Munro.” Now Robinson has written Water Dogs, a suspenseful, disquieting, and compulsively readable first novel that takes an unforgettable look at the delicate patchwork of a family.

Bennie knows that the details of his life don’t show well. A twenty-seven-year-old college dropout with stalled ambitions, he works at an animal shelter and lives with his bullheaded older brother, Littlefield, in their old family home on Meadow Island, Maine, a house that has fallen into disrepair since their father’s untimely death several years earlier.

When a massive blizzard hits the state one Saturday afternoon, Bennie, Littlefield, and a crew of roughneck war-game enthusiasts decide to play paintball at the local granite quarry. Bennie accidentally falls into a gully, landing in the hospital, and wonders if his life can get any worse. But when one of the players disappears during the storm and Littlefield becomes the main suspect in the disappearance, Bennie realizes that the game might have had much higher stakes. Then Littlefield takes off without a word of explanation, forcing Bennie to seriously question his loyalty to his enigmatic brother. With the guidance of his intrepid girlfriend, Helen, and his twin sister, Gwen, Bennie goes looking for answers, embarking on a journey that brings him closer to a truth he may not want to discover. What he finds will change his family and his life forever.

Written in prose as arresting and spare as the novel’s rural Maine setting, Lewis Robinson’s Water Dogs is a marvel of modern fiction, a book rich in empathy that follows one man’s path through the uncertainties of youth and loss toward self-discovery.
Read an excerpt from Water Dogs.

Visit Lewis Robinson's website.

"Asta in the Wings"

New from Tin House: Asta in the Wings by Jan Elizabeth Watson.

About the book, from the publisher:

Asta in the Wings is a poignant and often darkly funny story narrated by Asta Hewitt, a resourceful seven-year-old growing up in an isolated house in Bond Brook, Maine. Shut off from the outside world and restricted to the company of a delusional mother and a bookish older brother, Asta is content to be part of a "society of three," constructing fanciful, theatrical worlds of their own. When circumstances push her into a strange outside world—with all of its discontents—Asta must find a way to assimilate while remaining true to herself and her fractured family.
Read an excerpt from Asta in the Wings.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

"The Crowded Universe"

New from Basic Books: The Crowded Universe: The Search for Living Planets by Alan Boss.

About the book, from the publisher:

We are nearing a turning point in our quest for life in the universe-we now have the capacity to detect Earth-like planets around other stars. But will we find any? In The Crowded Universe, renowned astronomer Alan Boss argues that based on what we already know about planetary systems, in the coming years we will find abundant Earths, including many that are indisputably alive. Life is not only possible elsewhere in the universe, Boss argues-it is common. Boss describes how our ideas about planetary formation have changed radically in the past decade and brings readers up to date on discoveries of bizarre inhabitants of various solar systems, including our own. America must stay in this new space race, Boss contends, or risk being left out of one of the most profoundly important discoveries of all time: the first confirmed finding of extraterrestrial life.
Visit Alan Boss' website.

"The Samaritan's Secret"

New from Soho Crime: The Samaritan's Secret by Matt Beynon Rees.

About the book, from the publisher:

The Samaritan’s Secret, the third Omar Yussef mystery, from the winner of the CWA John Creasey Dagger.

When Omar Yussef travels to Nablus, the West Bank’s most violent town, to attend a wedding, he little expects the trouble that awaits him. An ancient Torah scroll belonging to the Samaritans, descendants of the biblical Joseph, has been stolen. But when the dead body of a young Samaritan is discovered, a seemingly straightforward theft inquiry takes an unexpected turn.

As Omar sets out to find the perpetrators of this murder, he is driven down into the murky alleys and tunnels of the old casbah in Nablus. Here, as he uncovers a deepening political rift, the secret deals of one of the region’s richest businessmen, and the shadowy world of the tiny Samaritan community, he begins to wonder whether he will be able to attend the wedding after all…
Visit Matt Beynon Rees' website.

The Page 69 Test: The Collaborator of Bethlehem.

My Book, The Movie: The Collaborator of Bethlehem.

The Page 69 Test: A Grave in Gaza.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

"Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand"

New from Grand Central Publishing: Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand by Carrie Vaughn.

About the book, from the publisher:

HONEYMOON IN VEGAS?

Already the alpha pair of Denver's werewolf pack, Kitty and Ben now plan to tie the knot human-style by eloping to Vegas. Kitty is looking forward to sipping fru-fru drinks by the pool and doing her popular radio show on live TV, but her hotel is stocked with werewolf-hating bounty hunters. Elsewhere on the Strip an old-school magician might be wielding the real thing; the vampire community is harboring a dark secret; and the irresistible star of a suspicious animal act is determined to seduce Kitty. Sin City has never been so wild, and this werewolf has never had to fight harder to save not only her wedding, but her very life.
Learn more about the author and her work at Carrie Vaughn's website and journal.

The Page 99 Test: Kitty and the Silver Bullet.

"The Music Room"

New from Thomas Dunne Books: The Music Room: A Memoir by Namita Devidayal.

About the book, from the publisher:

When Namita is ten years old, her mother takes her to Kennedy Bridge, a seamy neighborhood in Bombay, home to hookers and dance girls. There, in a cramped one-room apartment lives Dhondutai, the last living disciple of two of the finest Indian classical singers of the twentieth century: the legendary Alladiya Khan and the great songbird Kesarbai Kerkar. Namita begins to learn singing from Dhondutai, at first reluctantly and then, as the years pass, with growing passion. Dhondutai sees in her a second Kesarbai, but does Namita have the dedication to give herself up completely to the discipline like her teacher? Or will there always be too many late nights and cigarettes? And where do love and marriage fit into all of this?

A bestseller in India, where it was a literary sensation, The Music Room is a deeply moving meditation on how traditions and life lessons are passed along generations, on the sacrifices made by women through the ages, and on a largely unknown, but vital aspect of Indian life and culture that will utterly fascinate American readers.
Read an excerpt from The Music Room.

Monday, January 26, 2009

"The Shanghai Moon"

New from St. Martin's Minotaur: The Shanghai Moon by S. J. Rozan.

About the book, from the publisher:

With The Shanghai Moon, S. J. Rozan returns to her award-winning, critically acclaimed, and much-loved characters Lydia Chin and Bill Smith in the first new novel in the series in seven years.

Estranged for months from fellow P.I. Bill Smith, Chinese-American private investigator Lydia Chin is brought in by colleague and former mentor Joel Pilarsky to help with a case that crosses continents, cultures, and decades.

In Shanghai, excavation has unearthed a cache of European jewelry dating back to World War II, when Shanghai was an open city providing safe haven for thousands of Jewish refugees. The jewelry, identifed as having belonged to one such refugee - Rosalie Gilder - was immediately stolen by a Chinese official who fled to New York City. Hired by a lawyer specializing in the recovery of Holocaust assets, Chin and Pilarsky are to find any and all leads to the missing jewels.

However, Lydia soon learns that there is much more to the story than they've been told: The Shanghai Moon, one of the world's most sought after missing jewels, reputed to be worth millions, is believed to have been part of the same stash. Before Lydia can act on this new information, Joel Pilarsky is murdered, Lydia is fired from the case, and Bill Smith finally reappears on the scene. Now Lydia and Bill must unravel the truth about the Shanghai Moon and the events that surrounded its disappearance sixty years ago during the chaos of war and revolution, if they are to stop more killings and uncover the truth of what is going on today.
Visit S. J. Rozan's website.

"Supermarket"

New from Thomas Dunne Books: Supermarket by Satoshi Azuchi; translated by Paul Warham.

About the book, from the publisher:

A modern classic of literature in Japan, Supermarket is a novel of the human drama surrounding the management of a supermarket chain at a time when the phenomenon of the supermarket, imported postwar from the US, was just taking hold in Japan.

When Kojima, an elite banker resigns his job to help a cousin manage Ishiei, a supermarket in one of Japan’s provincial cities, a host of problems ensue. Store employees are stealing products, the books are in disaray, and the workers seem stuck in old ways of thinking. As Kojima begins to give all his time over to the relentless task of reforming the store’s management, a chance encounter with a woman from his childhood causes him to ask the age-old question: is the all encompassing pursuit of business success really worth it?

Sincere and naive in tone, Supermarket takes us back to a simpler, kinder time, and
skillfully presents the depictions of its characters alongside a wealth of information concerning Japanese post WWII recovery and industrialization.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

"Fatal February"

New from Oceanview Publishing: Fatal February by Barbara Levenson.

About the book, from the publisher:

For half Jewish, half Southern Baptist Miami criminal defense attorney Mary Macgruder Katz, life starts to spin completely out of control when a minor fender bender turns out to be an unlikely shot from Cupid’s bow.

Carlos Martin, the other car’s driver, isn’t just a distracted driver; he’s distracting. Carlos is charming, handsome, and mysterious. Hardly before she knows what hit her, Mary breaks off her engagement, jumps into a sizzling romance with Carlos, gets fired from her former fiancé’s highbrow law firm, starts her own practice, and lands her first client, Lillian Yarmouth.

But Lillian isn’t just any client; she’s the prime suspect in what’s become the Miami society murder of the year.

While investigating Lillian’s alleged crime of passion, Mary finds that this case, like all matters of the heart, is anything but black and white. And Mary has clearly stumbled onto something that has someone seeing red.

February may be the shortest month of the year, but Mary’s got some long days (and nights) ahead. This month could be a real killer.
Visit Barbara Levenson's website.

"How We Decide"

New from Houghton Mifflin: How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer.

About the book, from the publisher:

The first book to use the unexpected discoveries of neuroscience to help us make the best decisions Since Plato, philosophers have described the decision-making process as either rational or emotional: we carefully deliberate, or we “blink” and go with our gut. But as scientists break open the mind’s black box with the latest tools of neuroscience, they’re discovering that this is not how the mind works. Our best decisions are a finely tuned blend of both feeling and reason—and the precise mix depends on the situation. When buying a house, for example, it’s best to let our unconscious mull over the many variables. But when we’re picking a stock, intuition often leads us astray. The trick is to determine when to use the different parts of the brain, and to do this, we need to think harder (and smarter) about how we think.

Jonah Lehrer arms us with the tools we need, drawing on cutting-edge research as well as the real-world experiences of a wide range of “deciders”—from airplane pilots and hedge fund investors to serial killers and poker players. Lehrer shows how people are taking advantage of the new science to make better television shows, win more football games, and improve military intelligence. His goal is to answer two questions that are of interest to just about anyone, from CEOs to firefighters: How does the human mind make decisions? And how can we make those decisions better?
Visit Jonah Lehrer's website.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

"The Millionaires"

New from W.W. Norton: The Millionaires by Inman Majors.

About the book, from the publisher:

A brilliant novel of new money and old manners, crossing The Great Gatsby with the spirit of Tom Wolfe.

Meet the Cole brothers, charismatic country boys with more money than God—half moonshine and half martini. Roland, the younger, is running for governor of Tennessee, while J.T. maneuvers to bring a full-fledged world's fair to the small city of Glennville. To the dismay of the old guard, the fair succeeds, making the Coles among the most important men in the state. All that stands between them and grander ambitions is an investigation into how their bank made all that money so damn fast.

Life in the fast lane has taken its toll on the Coles' families; their wives and mistresses are among the sharpest, sassiest creations of recent fiction. The quiet center of the story is Mike Teague, the Coles' advisor, who knows one of those women too well, and also where all the bodies are buried. Here is a portrait, raucous yet nuanced, of what the South has been, and what it will become.

"Enclave"

New from Tor Books: Enclave by Kit Reed.

About the book, from the publisher:

The world is in chaos: war, plague, global ecological collapse. Parents everywhere seek sanctuary for their precious children, the future of mankind. For those who are rich and powerful enough, safety can be found—for a price—at the Clothos Academy. Run by a mysterious man known only as Sarge, set in a former monastery atop a sheer cliff on a tiny island somewhere in the Mediterranean, Clothos will admit only one hundred students before it is sealed off—perhaps permanently—from the terrors outside.

But all is not as it seems. The pupils are so-called starlets best known for their empty heads and eating disorders; troublemakers one step away from incarceration; and junior royals too embarrassing to be let out in public. And the staff isn’t much better, from the alcoholic doctor to an ancient monk with secrets of his own.

And the dangers from which these castaways are being protected? Prerecorded, ready to be trotted out whenever Sarge needs to terrify his little flock. And yet…

Some dangers are real, as two boys discover when they hack the Academy’s self-contained computer network and connect, for a brief but disastrous moment, to the outside world. Worse, a stranger has entered the Academy. And he has brought Death.
Visit Kit Reed's website.

Friday, January 23, 2009

"Eon: Dragoneye Reborn"

New from Viking Children's: Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman.

About the book, from the publisher:

Action—a stunning magic system—swordplay galore!

Eon has been studying the ancient art of Dragon Magic for four years, hoping he’ll be able to apprentice to one of the twelve energy dragons of good fortune. But he also has a dark secret. He is actually Eona, a sixteen-year-old girl who has been living a dangerous lie for the chance to become a Dragoneye, the human link to an energy dragon’s power. It is forbidden for females to practice the Dragon Magic and, if discovered, Eon faces a terrible death. After a dazzling sword ceremony, Eon’s affinity with the twelve dragons catapults him into the treacherous world of the Imperial court where he makes a powerful enemy, Lord Ido. As tension builds and Eon’s desperate lie comes to light, readers won’t be able to stop turning the pages.
Read an excerpt from Eon: Dragoneye Reborn.

Visit Alison Goodman's website.

"The Last Gig"

New from St. Martin's Minotaur: The Last Gig by Norman Green.

About the book, from the publisher:

A teenage runaway from the Brownsville projects, Alessandra Martillo lived with an indifferent aunt who had taken her in when her mother killed herself, and later, after more than a year on the streets, a caring uncle found her, took her in, and showed her she had a chance. That was many years ago, and now Alessandra’s all grown up, working for a sleazy P.I., repossessing cars, and trolling for waitstaff on the take. The cases aren’t glamorous, or interesting, but the work pays the bills. And she’s good at it---if there’s one thing she’s learned since leaving the streets, it’s how to take care of herself around life’s shadier elements.

When an Irish mobster named Daniel “Mickey” Caughlan thinks someone on the inside of his shipping operation is trying to set him up for a fall, it’s Al he wants on the job. She’s to find the traitor and report back. But just a little digging shows it’s more complicated than a simple turncoat inside the family; Al’s barely started on the case when she runs into a few tough guys trying to warn her away. Fools. As if a little confrontation wouldn’t make her even more determined.

Norman Green, critically acclaimed author of four crime novels, debuts a fresh, edgy character in the streetwise Alessandra Martillo, a female take on the P.I.s of yesteryear. Tough as nails and sometimes heartless, smart and altogether too brave for her own good, Al is one of the most interesting lead characters to hit crime fiction in years.
Visit Norman Green's website.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

"The High City"

New from Forge Books: The High City by Cecelia Holland.

About the book, from the publisher:

It is the early years of the reign of Basil II, who became one most successful, and most feared, Byzantine emperors. But for now, Basil rules as a co-emperor with his brother Constantine, and makes war on a would-be usurper, Bardas Phokas, son of a General who Basil supplanted.

Basil’s most trusted troops are foreign mercenaries, the Varangian guard hired from the North. Rus and Norsemen, Viking raiders and wild horsemen from the steppes, they fall upon the elegant city of Constantinople like wolves on a garden party. Among them is the wily young son of an Irish slave, who comes to the notice of the emperor’s wife. But being noticed by an angry emperor is not safe at all.
Visit Cecelia Holland's website.

"Nuclear Jellyfish"

New from William Morrow: Nuclear Jellyfish by Tim Dorsey.

About the book, from the publisher:

Just when you thought it was safe to go online . . . Serge has returned!

That loveable collector of trivia, souvenirs, and murder methods is back with a new A‑Tour of Florida. And this time he's out to set the record straight!

Serge is upset that his beloved state isn't getting its proper recognition, so he signs on with the big Internet travel services. But his new employers aren't exactly sure they want to send their customers to Serge's favorite haunts—nor do they want to provide tips on how to keep from getting killed on vacation.

Serge couldn't disagree more, and he sets up his own wildcat site, hyper‑blogging his way down the coast with his perpetually hammered sidekick, Coleman.

Unfortunately Serge's Web presence catches the attention of his nemesis, Agent Mahoney, and the chase is on.

Meanwhile, professional robbery crews have begun targeting trade show exhibitors, who may or may not be what they seem. Bodies begin piling up, which is less than usual for the locale—except this time it involves rare postcards. Serge has had enough! He's forced into the only logical course of action—go shopping at the Home Depot.

And this only raises more questions:

Who is tutoring strippers through the community college?

What sparked the grudge match between coin and stamp enthusiasts?

How'd the astronaut in diapers get involved?

Why does Serge have to stop at the NASCAR superstore?

Where did all these diamonds come from? And does Lynyrd Skynyrd hold the key to everything?

It all starts with a tragic tattoo parlor mishap and soon nobody is safe, especially the person on the Robert De Niro stool, because, after all, Serge has to sit there or what's the point of life?

But wait! You say you want more? Serge says, You got it!

Guns, drugs, bloody crime scenes, historically relevant sex, library quiet time, glow‑in‑the dark deformities, hotel drink coupons, a naked woman in a shark cage, and John Travolta.

It's time to sign on with Serge and see where the twisting, sun‑splashed trail leads in . . . Nuclear Jellyfish!
Tim Dorsey's website.

The Page 69 Test: Atomic Lobster.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"On the Grind"

New from St. Martin's Press: On the Grind by Stephen J. Cannell.

About the book, from the publisher:

On the heels of Three Shirt Deal, a New York Times bestseller, comes an electrifying new thriller from Stephen J. Cannell in which Lt. Shane Scully is accused of evidence tampering and his wife, Alexa, discovers Shane’s been having an affair with a beautiful movie star.

Charged with felony misconduct in a high-profile solicitation of murder case, Lieutenant Scully is faced with an impossible decision: either quietly resign from his job as a detective for the LAPD, the work he loves, or face criminal prosecution. Rather than smear the department’s reputation and his own, Scully chooses to leave. His colleagues of years feel betrayed to learn that a dirty cop has been in their midst. His wife, Alexa, the chief of detectives, leaves him, seeking a divorce for his dalliance with the accused in the case, a beautiful, well-known Hollywood actress. His son, Chooch, horrified by these events, won’t even speak to him. Life as Scully knows it is over. Or so it seems...

In order to make a living the only way he knows how, Shane seeks employment from a police department that has been known to hire rejects from other departments: the Haven Park PD. Haven Park is an incorporated city near downtown Los Angeles, just one square mile in size and populated almost entirely by Mexican immigrants, most of them illegal. The department is a hotbed of corruption, in effect the personal goon squad and collection agency of the town’s mayor, Cecil Bratano. Ushered into the department by his new partner, Alonzo Bell, Shane takes his lessons in policing from one of the dirtiest cops around.

But things in L.A. are hardly ever what they seem. Relentlessly harassed by an over-zealous FBI agent, the alluring Ophelia Love, and under the constant, violent, and hyper-paranoid scrutiny of his new comrades-at-arms, Shane finds himself in snare a far greater than any he could have expected. His estranged wife may be the only one who can get Shane out of this mess alive. The question is: Is she willing to do so?
Visit Stephen J. Cannell's website.

"The Well-Dressed Ape"

New from Random House: The Well-Dressed Ape: A Natural History of Myself by Hannah Holmes.

About the book, from the publisher:

The well-dressed ape, aka Homo sapiens, is a strange mammal. It mates remarkably often, and with unprecedented affection. With similar enthusiasm, it will eat to the point of undermining its own health–behavior unthinkable in wild animals. The human marks its territory with doors, fences, and plastic flamingos, yet if it’s too isolated it becomes depressed. It thinks of itself as complex, intelligent, and in every way superior to other animals–but is it, really?

With wit, humility, and penetrating insight, science journalist Hannah Holmes casts the inquisitive eye of a trained researcher and reporter on . . . herself. And not just herself, but on our whole species–what Shakespeare called “the paragon of animals.” In this surprising, humorous, and edifying book, Holmes explores how the human animal–the eponymous well-dressed ape–fits into the natural world, even as we humans change that world in both constructive and destructive ways.

Comparing and contrasting the biology and behavior of humans with that of other creatures, Holmes demonstrates our position as an animal among other animals, a product of–and subject to–the same evolutionary processes. And not only are we animals–we are, in some important ways (such as our senses of smell and of vision), pitiably inferior ones. That such an animal came to exist at all is unlikely. That we have survived and prospered is extraordinary.

At the same time, Holmes reveals the ways in which Homo sapiens stands apart from other mammals and, indeed, all other animals. Despite the vast common ground we share with our fellow creatures, there are significant areas in which we are unique. No other animal, as far as we know, shares the human capacity for self-reflective thought or our talent for changing ourselves or our environment in response to natural challenges and opportunities. One result of these extraordinary characteristics is the spread of our species across the entire planet; another, unfortunately, is global warming.

Deftly mixing personal stories and observations with the latest scientific theories and research results, Hannah Holmes has fashioned an engaging and informative field guide to that oddest and yet most fascinating of primates: ourselves.
Visit the website of Hannah Holmes.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"Agincourt"

New from HarperCollins: Agincourt by Bernard Cornwell.

About the book, from the publisher:

"The greatest writer of historical adventures today" (Washington Post) tackles his richest, most thrilling subject yet—the heroic tale of Agincourt.

Young Nicholas Hook is dogged by a cursed past—haunted by what he has failed to do and banished for what he has done. A wanted man in England, he is driven to fight as a mercenary archer in France, where he finds two things he can love: his instincts as a fighting man, and a girl in trouble. Together they survive the notorious massacre at Soissons, an event that shocks all Christendom. With no options left, Hook heads home to England, where his capture means certain death. Instead he is discovered by the young King of England—Henry V himself—and by royal command he takes up the longbow again and dons the cross of Saint George. Hook returns to France as part of the superb army Henry leads in his quest to claim the French crown. But after the English campaign suffers devastating early losses, it becomes clear that Hook and his fellow archers are their king's last resort in a desperate fight against an enemy more daunting than they could ever have imagined.

One of the most dramatic victories in British history, the battle of Agincourt—immortalized by Shakespeare in Henry V—pitted undermanned and overwhelmed English forces against a French army determined to keep their crown out of Henry's hands. Here Bernard Cornwell resurrects the legend of the battle and the "band of brothers" who fought it on October 25, 1415. An epic of redemption, Agincourt follows a commoner, a king, and a nation's entire army on an improbable mission to test the will of God and reclaim what is rightfully theirs. From the disasters at the siege of Harfleur to the horrors of the field of Agincourt, this exhilarating story of survival and slaughter is at once a brilliant work of history and a triumph of imagination—Bernard Cornwell at his best.
Visit Bernard Cornwell's website.

"The Inheritance"

New from Crown/Harmony: The Inheritance: The World Obama Confronts and the Challenges to American Power by David E. Sanger.

About the book, from the publisher:

Readers of The New York Times know David Sanger as one of the most trusted correspondents in Washington, one to whom presidents, secretaries of state, and foreign leaders talk with unusual candor. Now, with a historian’s sweep and an insider’s eye for telling detail, Sanger delivers an urgent intelligence briefing on the world America faces.

In a riveting narrative, The Inheritance describes the huge costs of distraction and lost opportunities at home and abroad as Iraq soaked up manpower, money, and intelligence capabilities. The 2008 market collapse further undermined American leadership, leaving the new president with a set of challenges unparalleled since Franklin D. Roosevelt entered the Oval Office.

Sanger takes readers into the White House Situation Room to reveal how Washington penetrated Tehran’s nuclear secrets, leading President Bush, in his last year, to secretly step up covert actions in a desperate effort to delay an Iranian bomb. Meanwhile, his intelligence chiefs made repeated secret missions to Pakistan as they tried to stem a growing insurgency and cope with an ally who was also aiding the enemy–while receiving billions in American military aid. Now the new president faces critical choices: Is it better to learn to live with a nuclear Iran or risk overt or covert confrontation? Is it worth sending U.S. forces deep into Pakistani territory at the risk of undermining an unstable Pakistani government sitting on a nuclear arsenal? It is a race against time and against a new effort by Islamic extremists–never before disclosed–to quietly infiltrate Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program.

“Bush wrote a lot of checks,” one senior intelligence official told Sanger, “that the next president is going to have to cash.”

The Inheritance takes readers to Afghanistan, where Bush never delivered on his promises for a Marshall Plan to rebuild the country, paving the way for the Taliban’s return. It examines the chilling calculus of North Korea’s Kim Jong-Il, who built actual weapons of mass destruction in the same months that the Bush administration pursued phantoms in Iraq, then sold his nuclear technology in the Middle East in an operation the American intelligence apparatus missed. And it explores how China became one of the real winners of the Iraq war, using the past eight years to expand its influence in Asia, and lock up oil supplies in Africa while Washington was bogged down in the Middle East. Yet Sanger, a former foreign correspondent in Asia, sees enormous potential for the next administration to forge a partnership with Beijing on energy and the environment.

At once a secret history of our foreign policy misadventures and a lucid explanation of the opportunities they create, The Inheritance is vital reading for anyone trying to understand the extraordinary challenges that lie ahead.

Monday, January 19, 2009

"The Empty Mirror"

New from St. Martin's Minotaur: The Empty Mirror by J. Sydney Jones.

About the book, from the publisher:

The summer of 1898 finds Austria terrorized by a killer who the press calls “Vienna’s Jack the Ripper.” Four bodies have already been found, but when the painter Gustav Klimt’s female model becomes the fifth victim, the police finger him as the culprit. The artist has already scandalized Viennese society with his erotically charged modern paintings. Who better to take the blame for the crimes that have plagued the city?

This is, however, far from an open-and-shut case. Klimt’s lawyer, Karl Werthen, has an ace up his sleeve. Dr. Hans Gross, the renowned father of criminology, has agreed to assist him in investigating the murders. Together, Gross and Werthen must not only clear Klimt’s name but also follow the trail of a killer that will lead them in the most surprising of directions. By uncovering the cause of the crimes that have shaken the city, the two men may risk damaging Vienna more than the murders did themselves.

Written by an acclaimed expert on Vienna and its history, The Empty Mirror introduces a new series of stunning historical mysteries that reveals the culture and curiosities of this fascinating fin de siècle metropolis.
Visit the official J. Sydney Jones website.

"Houston, We Have a Problema"

New from Grand Central Publishing: Houston, We Have a Problema by Gwendolyn Zepeda.

About the book, from the publisher:

Jessica Luna is your typical 26 year old: she has man trouble, mom trouble, and not a clue what to do with her life (though everyone else in her family seems to have plenty of suggestions!) After a lifetime of being babied by her family, Jess is incapable of trusting herself to make the right choices. So instead, she bases all of her life decisions on signs. She looks to everything for guidance, from the direction her rearview-mirror-Virgin-de-Guadalupe sways to whatever Madame Hortensia, her psychic, sees in the cards.

When her sort-of boyfriend Guillermo, a gifted unmotivated artist, disappoints her again, Jessica thinks it's time to call it quits. Just to be sure, she checks in with Madame Hortensia who confirms that yes, it is time for a change. (Who knew $20 could buy so much security!) Right on cue, Jess meets Jonathan; he's the complete opposite of Guillermo--of all Jess's boyfriends, in fact. He's successful, has a stable job....and is white. Jess isn't sure if Jonathan is really the change Madame Hortensia saw. Sure he gives great career advice, but is he advising her on a career she actually wants? And yes he's all about commitment, but is it Jess or her mother who really wants marriage?

Jess runs back to Madame Hortensia for advice, but even she is out of answers. Now there's only one thing that's certain: no one--not her mother, her sister, her boyfriend or her psychic--can tell her what to do. For better or for worse, Jess will have to take the plunge and make her own decisions if she wants to have any future at all.
Visit Gwendolyn Zepeda's website.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

"Men of the Otherworld"

New from Spectra: Men of the Otherworld by Kelley Armstrong.

About the book, from the publisher:

New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong has captivated readers with her spellbinding Women of the Otherworld series. Now, for the first time, in this collection of four tales she gives center stage to the men who love these sexy, supernatural women—the men who live on the other side of humanity…the wild side.

As a curious six-year-old, Clayton didn’t resist the bite—he asked for it. But surviving as a lone child-werewolf was more than he could manage—until Jeremy came along and taught him how to straddle the human-werewolf worlds, gave him a home…and introduced him to the Pack. So begins this tantalizing volume, featuring three of the most intriguing members of the American Pack—a hierarchical founding family where bloodlines mean everything and each day presents a new, thrilling, and often deadly challenge. For as Clayton grows from a wild child to a clever teen who tests his beloved mentor at every turn, he must learn not only to control his animal instincts but to navigate Pack politics—including showing his brutal archnemesis, Malcolm, who the real Alpha is....

From the nature of fear, weakness, and courage, to the triumph of belonging and the complications of love and loyalty, these mesmerizing tales reveal the trials of a werewolf coming-of-age, and lay bare the hearts and minds of the men strong enough for the women of the Otherworld—and adept enough to take on two worlds.
Visit Kelley Armstrong's website.

"Super in the City"

New from Bantam: Super in the City by Daphne Uviller.

About the book, from the publisher:

In this off-the-beaten-sidewalk debut, native New Yorker Daphne Uviller reveals the secrets of a sexy, story-filled Big Apple, where a mystery lurks behind every apartment door—and a savvy but slightly lost young woman unexpectedly finds herself holding the keys.

In a city brimming with opportunities for heroism, twenty-seven-year-old Zephyr Zuckerman has often fantasized about committing acts of bravery that would make front-page news. Now she may get her big break—though it may require plunging a few toilets. When the superintendent of her parents’ Greenwich Village brownstone is led away in handcuffs, unemployed Zephyr takes over his post and unleashes her inner sleuth: discovering titillating secrets about her tenants—from a smoky-voiced Frenchwoman who entertains throngs of unsavory visitors to a moody musician who just has to be hiding something—and realizing that her new reality is far more intriguing than her imagination.

Soon Zephyr has sussed out wrongs that stretch from losers on the Internet to art fraud and an international crime ring. The mob thinks she’s in the FBI, and the FBI thinks she’s in the mob—a predicament she needs to clear up fast. But perhaps not before the cute, surly exterminator helps her solve the mystery of what to do with the rest of her life….
Visit Daphne Uviller's website.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

"The Art of Conversation"

New from Gotham/Penguin: The Art of Conversation: A Guided Tour of a Neglected Pleasure by Catherine Blyth.

About the book, from the publisher:

A wide-ranging, exhortatory look at the pleasures of great conversation, including strategies for how to bring it about, from the witty pen of an Englishwoman wise in its ways

In The Art of Conversation, Catherine Blyth eloquently points out the sorry state of disrepair that conversation has fallen into—and then, taking examples from history, literature, philosophy, anthropology, and popular culture, she gives us the tools to rebuild. Her prose embodies the conversational values she promotes: It’s smart, succinct, self-deprecating, and light on its feet.

The Art of Conversation isn’t about etiquette, elocution, or knowing how to hold your teacup with your little finger crooked just so. It’s about something simple and profound: connecting. In our distracted days, it’s easy to forget that each of us possesses a communication technology that has been in research and development for thousands of years. Conversation costs nothing, but can bring you the world.

Blyth offers us a chance to revel in the possibilities of conversation. As Alexander Pope nearly wrote, “True ease in talking comes from art, not chance, as those move easiest who have learned to dance.” Okay, Pope was actually talking about writing, but Catherine Blyth has that skill as well. When you have read The Art of Conversation, you’ll not only know the steps, but hear the music like never before.
Visit Catherine Blyth's website.

"Believe Me"

New from Plume: Believe Me by Nina Killham.

About the book, from the publisher:

In the tradition of Jodi Picoult—a fresh, smart, and deeply moving novel about the power of faith, love, and family

Thirteen-year-old Nic Delano has a lot of questions. Like why does he have a babysitter at his age-and where did she get such long legs? But mostly, what exactly is the meaning of life?

His mother, Lucy, an astrophysicist and atheist, has always encouraged Nic to ask questions. But lately she doesn’t like the answers he’s getting. Nic has been hanging out with a group of devout Christians and is starting to embrace the Bible—and a very different view of the heavens.

But when unexpected tragedy strikes, Nic and Lucy’s beliefs are truly to put to the test. And they need each other now more than ever. But will a mother and her son be able to find a common ground where faith meets understanding and love is, ultimately, what endures?
Visit Nina Killham's website.

Friday, January 16, 2009

"Eve: A Novel of the First Woman"

New from Delacorte Press: Eve: A Novel of the First Woman by Elissa Elliott.

About the book, from the publisher:

It is the world’s oldest tale: the story of Eve, her husband, Adam, and the tragedy that would overcome her sons…. In this luminous debut novel, Elissa Elliott puts a powerful twist on biblical narrative, boldly reimagining Eve’s journey. At once intimate and universal, timely and timeless, this unique work of fiction blends biblical tradition with recorded history and dazzling storytelling. And as it does, Eve comes to life in a way religion and myth have never allowed—in a novel that explores the very essence of love, motherhood, faith, and humanity.

In their world they are alone…a family haunted by banishment, struggling for survival in a harsh new land. A woman who has borne and buried children, Eve sees danger shadowing those she loves, while her husband drifts further and further from the man he was in the Garden, blinded by his need to rebuild a life outside of Eden. One daughter, alluring, self-absorbed Naava, turns away from their beliefs. Another, crippled, ever-faithful Aya, harbors a fateful secret, while brothers Cain and Abel become adversaries, and Dara, the youngest, is chosen for a fate of her own.

In one hot, violent summer, by the shores of the muddy Euphrates, strangers arrive on their land. New gods challenge their own. And for Eve, a time of reckoning is at hand. The woman who once tasted the forbidden fruit of paradise sees her family unraveling—as brother turns on brother, culminating in a confrontation that will have far-reaching consequences for them all.

From a woman’s first awakening to a mother’s innermost hopes and fears, from moments of exquisite tenderness to a climax of shocking violence, Eve takes us on a breathtaking journey of the imagination. A novel that has it all—romantic love, lust, cruelty, heroism, envy, sacrifice, murder—Eve is a work of mesmerizing literary invention by a singular new voice in fiction.
Visit Elissa Elliott's website.

"Flight into Darkness"

New from Spectra: Flight into Darkness by Sarah Ash.

About the book, from the publisher:

From Sarah Ash, acclaimed author of the Tears of Artamon trilogy, comes the conclusion to the story begun in Tracing the Shadow, a fantasy masterpiece of truly epic proportions. In a clash of kingdoms and rebels, of magicians and inquisitors, two young mages must find the resolution and courage they need to save both the world...and themselves.

As an impulsive young man, Rieuk Mordiern accidentally freed Azilis—a guardian spirit charged with keeping the balance between the kingdoms of the living and the dead. And now his sole purpose is to bring her back: to restore the balance that he so carelessly upset. Only Azilis does not want to return. Instead she has attached herself to a very talented mortal—the renowned singer Celestine—becoming, as Celestine believes, her personal guardian.

And Celestine has never needed a guardian more. Her desire for revenge against the people who consigned her magician father to the flames is leading her farther down a dangerous path as she learns to use the powers he deeded her at his death. Powers that are bringing her to the attention of an Inquisition determined to stamp out every last trace of magic from the world.

But chaos is growing. Seven daemons from another realm, once imprisoned, are now threatening to return and lay siege to the mortal world. The boundaries between life and death are slowly eroding. And to prevent the end of all things, both Rieuk and Celestine must discover what it means to truly be a hero....
Visit Sarah Ash's website.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

"Little Pink House"

New from Grand Central Publishing: Little Pink House: A True Story of Defiance and Courage by Jeff Benedict.

About the book, from the publisher:

Suzette Kelo was just trying to rebuild her life when she purchased a falling down Victorian house perched on the waterfront in New London, CT. The house wasn't particularly fancy, but with lots of hard work Suzette was able to turn it into a home that was important to her, a home that represented her new found independence.

Little did she know that the City of New London, desperate to revive its flailing economy, wanted to raze her house and the others like it that sat along the waterfront in order to win a lucrative Pfizer pharmaceutical contract that would bring new business into the city. Kelo and fourteen neighbors flat out refused to sell, so the city decided to exercise its power of eminent domain to condemn their homes, launching one of the most extraordinary legal cases of our time, a case that ultimately reached the United States Supreme Court.

In Little Pink House, award-winning investigative journalist Jeff Benedict takes us behind the scenes of this case -- indeed, Suzette Kelo speaks for the first time about all the details of this inspirational true story as one woman led the charge to take on corporate America to save her home.
Visit Jeff Benedict's website.

"The Engine's Child"

New from Del Ray Books: The Engine's Child by Holly Phillips.

About the book, from the publisher:

From acclaimed author Holly Phillips comes a major work of visionary fantasy in the vein of Jeff Vandermeer and China Miéville. As richly detailed as it is evocative, the vivid prose of this ambitious novel illuminates a lushly imagined world poised on the brink of revolution.

Lanterns and flickering bulbs light the shadowy world of the rasnan, the island at the edge of a world-spanning ocean that harbors, in its ivory towers and mossy temples, the descendants of men and women who long ago fled a world ruined by magical and technological excess. But not all the island’s inhabitants are resigned to exile. A mysterious brotherhood seeks to pry open doors that lead back to their damaged, dangerous homeland. Others risk the even greater danger of flight, seeking new lands and new freedoms in the vast, uncharted sea.

Amid a web of conspiracy and betrayal, three people threaten to shatter this fragile world. Scheming Lord Ghar, faithful to lost gods and forbidden lore, plays an intricate power game; Lady Vashmarna, an iron-willed ruler, conceals a guilty secret behind her noble façade; and Moth, a poor, irreverent novice, holds perhaps the darkest power of all: a mysterious link to a shadowy force that may prove to be humanity’s final hope–or its ultimate doom.
Read an excerpt from The Engine's Child.

Visit the official website of Holly Phillips.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

"Blonde Roots"

New from Riverhead: Blonde Roots by Bernardine Evaristo.

About the book, from the publisher:

A provocative novel that upends the history of the transatlantic slave trade, reversing and reexamining notions of savagery and civilization, as it follows a young woman’s journey to freedom.

Award-winning writer Bernardine Evaristo’s novel Blonde Roots asks: What if the history of the transatlantic slave trade had been reversed and Africans had enslaved Europeans? How would that have changed the ways that people justified their inhuman behavior? And how would it inform our cultural attitudes and the insidious racism that still lingers—and sometimes festers—today?

We see this tragicomic world turned upside down through the eyes of Doris, an Englishwoman who is kidnapped one day while playing hide-and-seek with her sisters in the fields near their home. She is subsequently enslaved and taken to the New World, as well as to the imperial center of Great Ambossa. She movingly recounts experiences of tremendous hardship and dreams of the people she’s left behind, all while journeying toward an escape into freedom.

A poignant and dramatic story grounded in provocative ideas, Blonde Roots is a genuinely original, profoundly imaginative novel.
Visit Bernardine Evaristo's website and blog.

"Why Evolution Is True"

New from Viking: Why Evolution Is True by Jerry A. Coyne.

About the book, from the publisher:

Why evolution is more than just a theory: it is a fact

In all the current highly publicized debates about creationism and its descendant “intelligent design,” there is an element of the controversy that is rarely mentioned—the evidence, the empirical truth of evolution by natural selection. Even Richard Dawkins and Stephen Jay Gould, while extolling the beauty of evolution and examining case studies, have not focused on the evidence itself. Yet the proof is vast, varied, and magnificent, drawn from many different fields of science. Scientists are observing species splitting into two and are finding more and more fossils capturing change in the past—dinosaurs that have sprouted feathers, fish that have grown limbs.

Why Evolution Is True weaves together the many threads of modern work in genetics, paleontology, geology, molecular biology, and anatomy that demonstrate the “indelible stamp” of the processes first proposed by Darwin. In crisp, lucid prose accessible to a wide audience, Why Evolution Is True dispels common misunderstandings and fears about evolution and clearly confirms that this amazing process of change has been firmly established as a scientific truth.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"A Face at the Window"

New from Bantam: A Face at the Window by Sarah Graves.

About the book, from the publisher:

Back in the day, Jacobia “Jake” Tiptree turned profits managing the fortunes of Manhattan’s most fortunate. Then she fled the rat race for a stately old fixer-upper in easygoing Eastport, Maine. But now a rat from an even darker corner of Jake’s past has turned up…a killer with a blueprint for demolishing her new life.

As a home repair enthusiast, Jake knows that nothing lasts forever—not windows or doors, not plaster or plumbing. And not good fortune.

After more than three decades eluding justice, the man who murdered her mother is finally about to stand trial—until he vanishes into thin air. Jake has a terrible foreboding of where Ozzie Campbell will turn up next. And while the local police chief is sure she’s overreacting, the truth is far worse than even Jake’s worst fears.

With her normally full house empty for at least another week, Jake has been looking forward to the unaccustomed peace and quiet. Now her cozy, well-loved home feels more like a big empty death trap ready to snap shut. First a pair of out-of-towners clearly not in Eastport for vacation turn up asking questions about her. And if she has any doubt they’re connected to Campbell, those doubts are erased when he calls her with a grim warning.

But exactly what Campbell wants from her isn’t clear, only that he’ll stop at nothing to hurt those closest to Jake. And his first victims are the most defenseless of all. Suddenly Jake can’t help but feel that her house—and her life—has far too many windows. And in any one of them she might see the face of her killer.
Visit the official Sarah Graves website.

"Breakneck"

New from St. Martin's Press: Breakneck by Erica Spindler.

About the book, from the publisher:

A remorseless killer. A string of innocent, clean-cut victims. Detectives M.C. Riggio and Kitt Lundgren must race against a cold-blooded predator who moves at breakneck speed in this heart-pounding thriller from New York Times bestselling author Erica Spindler.

Hot on the heels of their last case, partners Mary Catherine (M.C.) Riggio and Kitt Lundgren, detectives in the police department's Violent Crimes Bureau in industrial, blue-collar Rockford, Illinois, are called out to a college student’s apartment where a young man with no criminal record, not even a noise complaint from his neighbors, appears to have been murdered in his sleep.

The trail seems cold, until another victim turns up, and then another… each one striking closer to home for M.C. The growing list of seemingly emotionless kills leaves M.C. and Kitt little to follow—like the first victim, all the targets are young adults, kid-next-door types who’ve never taken a step outside the law. Meanwhile, the case starts to take its toll on M.C.’s personal life, setting her on edge with her partner and putting their hard-earned friendship in jeopardy. As M.C. and Kitt hunt a faceless killer, they are led deep into the cyberuniverse, where no one is who he seems and you never know who's watching. At the heart of this mesmerizing thriller is the relationship between two headstrong women as they struggle to balance their dual roles, to learn to trust, and to walk the fine line between upholding the law—and taking it into their own hands.
Visit Erica Spindler's website and blog.

Monday, January 12, 2009

"The Suicide Collectors"

New from St. Martin's Press: The Suicide Collectors by David Oppegaard.

About the book, from the publisher:

The Despair has plagued the earth for five years. Most of the world’s population has inexplicably died by its own hand, and the few survivors struggle to remain alive. A mysterious, shadowy group called the Collectors has emerged, inevitably appearing to remove the bodies of the dead. But in the crumbling state of Florida, a man named Norman takes an unprecedented stand against the Collectors, propelling him on a journey across North America. It’s rumored a scientist in Seattle is working on a cure for the Despair, but in a world ruled by death, it won’t be easy to get there.
Visit David Oppegaard's website and blog.

"The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death"

New from Ballantine Books: The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death by Charlie Huston.

About the book, from the publisher:

With a style that is razor sharp, an eye that never shies from the gritty details, and a taste for stories that simultaneously shock, disturb, and entertain, Charlie Huston is one of a kind. And The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death is the type of story–swift, twisted, hilarious, somehow hopeful–that only he could dream up.

The fact is, whether it’s a dog hit by a train or an old lady who had a heart attack on the can, someone has to clean up the nasty mess. And that someone is Webster Fillmore Goodhue, who just may be the least likely person in Los Angeles County to hold down such a gig. With his teaching career derailed by tragedy, Web hasn’t done much for the last year except some heavy slacking. But when his only friend in the world lets him know that his freeloading days are over, and he tires of taking cash from his spaced-out mom and refuses to take any more from his embittered father, Web joins Clean Team–and soon finds himself sponging a Malibu suicide’s brains from a bathroom mirror, and flirting with the man’s bereaved and beautiful daughter.

Then things get weird: The dead man’s daughter asks a favor. Her brother’s in need of somebody who can clean up a mess. Every cell in Web’s brain tells him to turn her down, but something else makes him hit the Harbor Freeway at midnight to help her however he can. Is it her laugh? Her desperate tone of voice? The chance that this might be history’s strangest booty call? Whatever it is, soon enough it’s Web who needs the help when gun-toting California cowboys start showing up on his doorstep. What’s the deal? Is it something to do with what he cleaned up in that motel room in Carson? Or is it all about the brewing war between rival trauma cleaners? Web doesn’t have a clue, but he’ll need to get one if he’s going to keep from getting his face kicked in. Again. And again. And again.

Full of black humor, stunning violence, singular characters, and neon dialogue, The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death is classic Charlie Huston: a wild ride that’ll leave you breathless and shaken, grinning and begging for more.
Visit Charlie Huston's website.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

"Crash Into Me"

New from Bantam: Crash Into Me by Jill Sorenson.

About the book, from the publisher:

In this heart-stopping novel, Jill Sorenson delivers a romantic thriller featuring one too-tough female agent, one too-hot male suspect, and a head-on erotic collision.…

Though he’d gone into virtual seclusion, Ben Fortune was still the world’s most famous surfer, known as much for his good looks as for his skill. He’s also a suspect in a series of brutal murders that may have begun with his late wife. Now FBI Special Agent Sonora “Sonny” Vasquez has been sent undercover to the elite beach community of La Jolla to make friends with Fortune. With her fierce beauty and take-no-prisoners attitude, she’s more than equipped for the job, and soon she and Ben have collided in an affair that is both intense and irresistible. But for the first—and worst—time in Sonny’s career, her emotions are threatening to get the better of her. Could this sensual, wounded man, who is genuinely anguished over his troubled daughter, really be a killer? And could falling in love blind Sonny to the greatest danger of all?
Visit Jill Sorenson's website and blog.

"The School of Essential Ingredients"

New from Putnam: The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister.

About the book, from the publisher:

Reminiscent of Chocolat and Like Water for Chocolate, a gorgeously written novel about life, love, and the magic of food.

The School of Essential Ingredients follows the lives of eight students who gather in Lillian’s Restaurant every Monday night for cooking class. It soon becomes clear, however, that each one seeks a recipe for something beyond the kitchen. Students include Claire, a young mother struggling with the demands of her family; Antonia, an Italian kitchen designer learning to adapt to life in America; and Tom, a widower mourning the loss of his wife to breast cancer. Chef Lillian, a woman whose connection with food is both soulful and exacting, helps them to create dishes whose flavor and techniques expand beyond the restaurant and into the secret corners of her students’ lives. One by one the students are transformed by the aromas, flavors, and textures of Lillian’s food, including a white-on-white cake that prompts wistful reflections on the sweet fragility of love and a peppery heirloom tomato sauce that seems to spark one romance but end another. Brought together by the power of food and companionship, the lives of the characters mingle and intertwine, united by the revealing nature of what can be created in the kitchen.
Visit Erica Bauermeister's website.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

"The Plunder Room"

New from Thomas Dunne Books: The Plunder Room by John Jeter.

About the book, from the publisher:

Moments before Edward Duncan dies, the colorful World War II hero leaves a mandate for his grandson Randol--to safeguard the family's proud Southern legacy. Randol, paralyzed and in a wheelchair after a car accident, buries his grandfather, and learns that his father, a Vietnam veteran, is running an illicit empire with Randol's half-brother, Jerod.

A wise-cracking music critic, Randol already has his hands full with his pot-smoking Goth son. When Jerod brings the gorgeous Annie down South and parks her in their South Carolina home, the family maid Volusia, "quick to ram a bar of soap into any foul mouth," sizes up Annie in short order. Jerod, his father, and Randol, are blind to what Volusia sees so easily, making it that much harder for Randol to bring the family together and salvage their dignity.

John Jeter's debut is a powerfully compelling story about one man's mission to preserve his family's ideals of honor and loyalty.
Visit The Plunder Room website.

"The Piano Teacher"

New from Viking: The Piano Teacher by Janice Y. K. Lee.

About the book, from the publisher:

In the sweeping tradition of The English Patient, a gripping tale of love and betrayal set in war-torn Hong Kong

In 1942, Will Truesdale, an Englishman newly arrived in Hong Kong, falls headlong into a passionate relationship with Trudy Liang, a beautiful Eurasian socialite. But their love affair is soon threatened by the invasion of the Japanese as World War II overwhelms their part of the world. Will is sent to an internment camp, where he and other foreigners struggle daily for survival. Meanwhile, Trudy remains outside, forced to form dangerous alliances with the Japanese—in particular, the malevolent head of the gendarmerie, whose desperate attempts to locate a priceless collection of Chinese art lead to a chain of terrible betrayals.

Ten years later, Claire Pendleton comes to Hong Kong and is hired by the wealthy Chen family as their daughter’s piano teacher. A provincial English newlywed, Claire is seduced by the heady social life of the expatriate community. At one of its elegant cocktail parties, she meets Will, to whom she is instantly attracted—but as their affair intensifies, Claire discovers that Will’s enigmatic persona hides a devastating past. As she begins to understand the true nature of the world she has entered, and long-buried secrets start to emerge, Claire learns that sometimes the price of survival is love.
Visit Janice Y. K. Lee's website.

Friday, January 9, 2009

"A Beautiful Place to Die"

New from Atria Books: A Beautiful Place to Die by Malla Nunn.

About the book, from the publisher:

Award-winning screenwriter Malla Nunn delivers a stunning and darkly romantic crime novel set in 1950s apartheid South Africa, featuring Detective Emmanuel Cooper -- a man caught up in a time and place where racial tensions and the raw hunger for power make life very dangerous indeed.

In a morally complex tale rich with authenticity, Nunn takes readers to Jacob's Rest, a tiny town on the border between South Africa and Mozambique. It is 1952, and new apartheid laws have recently gone into effect, dividing a nation into black and white while supposedly healing the political rifts between the Afrikaners and the English. Tensions simmer as the fault line between the oppressed and the oppressors cuts deeper, but it's not until an Afrikaner police officer is found dead that emotions more dangerous than anyone thought possible boil to the surface.

When Detective Emmanuel Cooper, an Englishman, begins investigating the murder, his mission is preempted by the powerful police Security Branch, who are dedicated to their campaign to flush out black communist radicals. But Detective Cooper isn't interested in political expediency and has never been one for making friends. He may be modest, but he radiates intelligence and certainly won't be getting on his knees before those in power. Instead, he strikes out on his own, following a trail of clues that lead him to uncover a shocking forbidden love and the imperfect life of Captain Pretorius, a man whose relationships with the black and coloured residents of the town he ruled were more complicated and more human than anyone could have imagined.

The first in her Detective Emmanuel Cooper series, A Beautiful Place to Die marks the debut of a talented writer who reads like a brilliant combination of Raymond Chandler and Graham Greene. It is a tale of murder, passion, corruption, and the corrosive double standard that defined an apartheid nation.

"Six Seconds"

New from Mira Books: Six Seconds by Rick Mofina.

About the book, from the publisher:

A vengeful woman who aches for her place in paradise…

In Iraq an aid worker who lost her husband and child in a brutal attack saves the life of an American contractor. Believing he can help her avenge her family's deaths, she follows him back home to the United States.

An anguished mother desperate to find her child…

In California a soccer mom arrives to pick up her son from school, only to discover that her husband has taken their child and vanished without a trace.

A detective who needs to redeem himself…

In the Rocky Mountains an off-duty cop rescues a little girl from a raging river moments before she utters her final words in his arms. Haunted by failure, he launches an investigation that leads him to a Montana school where time is ticking down on an event that will rewrite history.…

Three strangers entangled in a plot to change the world in only six seconds…
Read an excerpt from the novel and watch the video trailer.

Check out Ali Karim's take on the book at The Rap Sheet.

Visit Rick Mofina's website.