Yesterday, I gave you my
10 12 most anticipated reads for September 2013 in SF/F/Horror. Today I’ve got the 10, er, 13, books that I’m especially looking forward to in the mystery/suspense category (click on the covers to pre-order)! These are in no particular order.
Synopsis-That’s no cupid, it’s a bridesmaid with a crossbow. Stella Hardesty is a seamstress with a sideline job in vigilante justice in this entertaining ebook in the Edgar-nominated and award-winning Bad Day series.
Two days before her best friend gets married, Stella Hardesty has nothing more pressing on her mind than fitting into her fluffy pink bridesmaid gown, mixing her next cocktail, and enjoying a romantic weekend with her sometimes beau, BJ Brodersen. Just as she’s headed to the bridal shower, word comes that BJ and smokin’ hot sheriff Goat Jones have gotten into a dustup over Stella’s affections.
Before Stella can recover from this startling development, more bad news comes along. The minister’s niece, the hard-to-love pageant princess Divinity Flycock, has been arrested for the murder of her fiancé. The bride begs Stella to clear Divinity’s name so that her minister will be able to perform the nuptials. When Stella starts digging into the case, however, she uncovers a world of jealous nightclub singers, firearms dealers, and the ugly underbelly of reality TV. Hot on the trail of the truth, she’s distracted by the arrival of the sheriff, who finally seems ready to make a claim for her affections.
Joe Victim by Paul Cleave (Atria-Sept. 3rd)
Synopsis-Joe Middleton has a lot on his plate, to say the least. Arrested for a whole slew of murders he says he can’t remember, Joe—a.k.a. the Christchurch Carver—has been in jail for the last year awaiting trial, charged with the task of convincing the psychiatrists interviewing him that he wasn’t of sound mind and can’t be blamed for what he did. And, incredibly, that’s the least of his worries.
That’s because there’s no shortage of people who like the idea of seeing Joe dead, some of whom are on the inside with him. On the outside, there’s Melissa, Joe’s accomplice in one of the murders, who plans on shooting him on his way to the courthouse before he gets a chance to start talking. To get himself out of this epic mess, Joe has a desperate plan involving the disgraced ex-detective who put Joe away and a television psychic who’s looking to get rich. It’s a long shot, but it had better work—because the people of New Zealand are voting to bring back the death penalty, and the Christchurch Carver is just the poster boy to make it happen.
The Return by Michael Gruber (Henry Holt-Sept. 3rd)
Synopsis-The real Richard Marder would shock his acquaintances, if they ever met him. Even his wife, long dead, didn’t know the real man behind the calm, cultured mask he presents to the world. Only an old army buddy from Vietnam, Patrick Skelly, knows what Marder is capable of. Then a shattering piece of news awakens Marder’s buried desire for vengeance, and with nothing left to lose, he sets off to punish the people whose actions, years earlier, changed his life. Uninvited, Skelly shows up and together the two of them raise the stakes far beyond anything Marder could have envisioned.
As Marder and Skelly head toward an apocalypse of their own making, Marder learns that good motives and sense of justice can’t always protect the people a man loves. A range of fearsomely real characters, from a brutally violent crime lord to a daringly courageous young woman, a roller-coaster of twists and turns, and a shattering exploration of what constitutes morality in the face of evil, Michael Gruber has once more proven that he is “a gifted and natural storyteller” (Chicago Tribune) and shows why he has been called “the Stephen King of crime writing” (The Denver Post).
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (Little, Brown-Sept. 10th)
Synopsis-Set against Iceland’s stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.
Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes’s death looms, the farmer’s wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they’ve heard.
Riveting and rich with lyricism, BURIAL RITES evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the question, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?
The Thicket by Joe R. Lansdale (Mulholland-Sept. 10th)
Synopsis-Jack Parker thought he’d already seen his fair share of tragedy. His grandmother was killed in a farm accident when he was barely five years old. His parents have just succumbed to the smallpox epidemic sweeping turn-of-the-century East Texas—orphaning him and his younger sister, Lula.
Then catastrophe strikes on the way to their uncle’s farm, when a traveling group of bank-robbing bandits murder Jack’s grandfather and kidnap his sister. With no elders left for miles, Jack must grow up fast and enlist a band of heroes the likes of which has never been seen if his sister stands any chance at survival. But the best he can come up with is a charismatic, bounty-hunting dwarf named Shorty, a grave-digging son of an ex-slave named Eustace, and a street-smart woman-for-hire named Jimmie Sue who’s come into some very intimate knowledge about the bandits (and a few members of Jack’s extended family to boot).
In the throes of being civilized, East Texas is still a wild, feral place. Oil wells spurt liquid money from the ground. But as Jack’s about to find out, blood and redemption rule supreme.
Seven For a Secret by Lyndsay Faye (Putnam-Sept. 17th)
Synopsis-Six months after the formation of the NYPD, its most reluctant and talented officer, Timothy Wilde, thinks himself well versed in his city’s dark practices—until he learns of the gruesome underworld of lies and corruption ruled by the “blackbirders,” who snatch free Northerners of color from their homes, masquerade them as slaves, and sell them South to toil as plantation property.
The abolitionist Timothy is horrified by these traders in human flesh. But in 1846, slave catching isn’t just legal—it’s law enforcement.
When the beautiful and terrified Lucy Adams staggers into Timothy’s office to report a robbery and is asked what was stolen, her reply is, “My family.” Their search for her mixed-race sister and son will plunge Timothy and his feral brother, Valentine, into a world where police are complicit and politics savage, and corpses appear in the most shocking of places. Timothy finds himself caught between power and principles, desperate to protect his only brother and to unravel the puzzle before all he cares for is lost.
Help For the Haunted by John Searles (William Morrow-Sept 17th)
Synopsis-It begins with a call one snowy February night. Lying in her bed, young Sylvie Mason overhears her parents on the phone across the hall. This is not the first late-night call they have received, since her mother and father have an uncommon occupation: helping “haunted souls” find peace. And yet something in Sylvie senses that this call is different from the others, especially when they are lured to the old church on the outskirts of town. Once there, her parents disappear, one after the other, behind the church’s red door, leaving Sylvie alone in the car. Not long after, she drifts off to sleep, only to wake to the sound of gunfire.
As the story weaves back and forth through the years leading up to that night and the months following, the ever-inquisitive Sylvie searches for answers and uncovers secrets that have haunted her family for years.
Chum by Jeff Somers (Tyrus-Sept 18th)
Synopsis-Mary and Bickerman are the center of their circle of friends–but these friends are strangers as well as family to them. In the course of year, under the influence of a stressful wedding and a whole lot of alcohol, relationships and nerves are twisted and broken as the dynamics of the cozy-seeming group shift. Secrets are kept, emotions withheld, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to end well for anyone.
Told always in first person, but not the same person, and unfolding in double-helix chronology that provides a Rashomon-like narration, Chum is the story of love, liquor, and death.
The Facades by Eric Lundgren (Overlook- Sept 12th)
Synopsis-Along the streets of the once-great Midwestern city of Trude, the ornate old buildings lie in ruin. Shrouded in disappointment andnostalgia, Trude has become a place to “lose yourself,” as one tourist brochure puts it: a treacherous maze of convoluted shopping malls, barricaded libraries, and elitist assisted-living homes.
One night at Trude’s opera house, the theater’s most celebrated mezzo-soprano vanishes during rehearsal. When police come up empty-handed, the star’s husband, a disconsolate legal clerk named Sven Norberg, must take up the quest on his own. But to discover the secret of his wife’s disappearance, Norberg must descend into Trude’s underworld and confront the menacing and bizarre citizens of his hometown: rebellious librarians, shifty music critics, a cop called the Oracle, and the minister of an apocalyptic church who has recruited Norberg’s teenage son. Faced with the loss of everything he loves, Norberg follows his investigation to the heart of the city and through the buildings of a possibly insane modernist architect called Bernhard, whose elaborate vision will offer him an astonishing revelation.
Written with boundless intelligence and razor-sharp wit, THE FACADES is a comic andexistential mystery that unfolds at the urgent pace of a thriller.
The Outcasts by Kathleen Kent (Mulholland-Sept 24th)
Synopsis-A taut, thrilling adventure story about buried treasure, a manhunt, and a woman determined to make a new life for herself in the old west.
It’s the 19th century on the Gulf Coast, a time of opportunity and lawlessness. After escaping the Texas brothel where she’d been a virtual prisoner, Lucinda Carter heads for Middle Bayou to meet her lover, who has a plan to make them both rich, chasing rumors of a pirate’s buried treasure.
Meanwhile Nate Cannon, a young Texas policeman with a pure heart and a strong sense of justice, is on the hunt for a ruthless killer named McGill who has claimed the lives of men, women, and even children across the frontier. Who—if anyone—will survive when their paths finally cross?
As Lucinda and Nate’s stories converge, guns are drawn, debts are paid, and Kathleen Kent delivers an unforgettable portrait of a woman who will stop at nothing to make a new life for herself.
I can guarantee an amazing read on this one: check out my review
The Edge of Normal by Carla Norton (St. Martins Press-Sept 10th)
Synopsis-In many ways, Reeve LeClaire looks like a typical twenty-two year old girl. She’s finally landed her own apartment, she waitresses to pay the bills, and she wishes she wasn’t so nervous around new people. She thinks of herself as agile, not skittish. As serious, not grim. But Reeve is anything but normal.
Ten years ago, she was kidnapped and held captive. After a lucky escape, she’s spent the last six years trying to rebuild her life, a recovery thanks in large part to her indispensable therapist Dr. Ezra Lerner. But when he asks her to help another girl rescued from a similar situation, Reeve realizes she may not simply need to mentor this young victim—she may be the only one who can protect her from a cunning predator who is still out there, watching every move.
From the author of the #1 non-fiction bestseller Perfect Victim: The True Story of the Girl in the Box comes a novel that draws you into a chilling and engrossing world. With powerfully gripping characters and an ending that is a masterpiece of deception, Carla Norton’s The Edge of Normal is a stunning debut thriller.
The Maid’s Version by Daniel Woodrell (Little, Brown-Sept 3rd)
Synopsis-The American master’s first novel since Winter’s Bone (2006) tells of a deadly dance hall fire and its impact over several generations.
Alma DeGeer Dunahew, the mother of three young boys, works as the maid for a prominent citizen and his family in West Table, Missouri. Her husband is mostly absent, and, in 1929, her scandalous, beloved younger sister is one of the 42 killed in an explosion at the local dance hall. Who is to blame? Mobsters from St. Louis? The embittered local gypsies? The preacher who railed against the loose morals of the waltzing couples? Or could it have been a colossal accident?
Alma thinks she knows the answer-and that its roots lie in a dangerous love affair. Her dogged pursuit of justice makes her an outcast and causes a long-standing rift with her own son. By telling her story to her grandson, she finally gains some solace-and peace for her sister. He is advised to “Tell it. Go on and tell it”-tell the story of his family’s struggles, suspicions, secrets, and triumphs.
A Commonplace Killing by Siân Busby (Atria-Sept 17th)
Synopsis-On a damp July morning in 1946, two schoolboys find a woman’s body in a bomb site in north London. The woman is identified as Lillian Frobisher, a wife and mother who lived in a war-damaged terrace a few streets away.
The police assume that Lil must have been the victim of a vicious sexual assault; but the autopsy finds no evidence of rape, and Divisional Detective Inspector Jim Cooper turns his attention to her private life.
How did Lil come to be in the bomb site – a well-known lovers’ haunt? If she had consensual sex, why was she strangled? Why was her husband seemingly unaware that she had failed to come home on the night she was killed?
In this gripping murder story, Siân Busby gradually peels away the veneer of stoicism and respectability to reveal the dark truths at the heart of postwar austerity Britain.