Yesterday, I gave you my 10 most anticipated reads for October 2013 in SF/F/Horror. Today I’ve got the 10, er, 14 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. It’s certainly a helluva month for mystery!
Synopsis-TO FIND AN ANGEL, HE MADE A DEAL WITH THE DEVIL.
Pericles “Perry” Christo is a PI with a past—a former cop, who lost his badge and his family when a corruption scandal left him broke and disgraced. When wealthy Upper East Side matron Julia Drusilla summons him one cold February night, he grabs what seems to be a straightforward (and lucrative) case.
The socialite is looking for her beautiful, aimless daughter, Angelina, who is about to become a very wealthy young woman. But as Christo digs deeper, he discovers there’s much more to the lovely “Angel” than meets the eye. Her father, her best friend, her boyfriends all have agendas of their own. Angel, he soon realizes, may be in grave danger . . . and if Christo gets too close, he just might get caught in the crossfire.
This classic noir tale twists and turns down New York’s mean streets and along Hamptons’ beaches and back roads during a bitterly cold and gray winter where nothing is as it seems and everyone has something to hide. In an inventive storytelling approach, each writer brings his or her distinctive voice to a chapter of Inherit the Dead, building the tension to a shocking, explosive finale.
The Case of the Love Commandos by Tarquin Hall (Simon and Schuster-Oct. 8th))
Synopsis-In this contemporary Romeo and Juliet story set within India’s caste system, private investigator Vish Puri faces his most difficult challenge to date: a high-stakes mystery involving one of India’s most controversial commodities: love.
When Ram and Tulsi fall in love, the young woman’s parents are dead set against the union. She’s from a high-caste family, but her boyfriend is an Untouchable, from the lowest strata of Indian society. Young Tulsi’s father locks her up and promises to hunt down and kill the “loverboy dog.” Fortunately, India’s Love Commandos, a real-life group of volunteers dedicated to helping mixed-caste couples, come to the rescue. They successfully free Tulsi, but Ram has gone missing.
The task of finding him falls to India’s “Most Private Investigator.” Unfortunately, Vish Puri is not having a good month. He’s already failed to recover the millions stolen from the First National Bank of Punjab, his wallet’s been stolen, and worst of all, his arch rival, investigator Hari Kumar, is also trying to locate Ram. To solve the case and reunite the star-crossed lovers, Puri and his team of misfit assistants must infiltrate Ram’s village and navigate the caste politics shaped by millennia-old prejudices.
The Last Winter of Dani Lancing by PD Viner (Crown-Oct. 8th)
Synopsis-Twenty years ago, college student Dani Lancing was kidnapped and brutally murdered. The killer was never found; the case has long-gone cold.
Her parents, Patty and Jim, were utterly devastated, their marriage destroyed. Patty threw away her successful journalism career and developed a violent obsession with the unsolved crime. She is utterly consumed with every lead and possible suspect no matter how far-fetched. Jim, however, is now a shell of his former self, broken down and haunted—sometimes literally—by the loss of his daughter. Tom Bevans, Dani’s childhood sweetheart, has become a detective intent on solving murders of other young women. He was so scarred by Dani’s death that his colleagues have nicknamed him “The Sad Man.” After twenty years of grief, all of three of them are burnt-out and hopeless.
But when Tom finds an opening on the case, everything changes. Patty’s obsessions are lit up once again and she will do anything for revenge—even if it means dragging her whole family back into the nightmare, as lies and secrets are unearthed and the truth finally revealed.
Told in fractured time, with a breathless pace and masterful plotting, The Last Winter of Dani Lancing is a superb thriller: swift, edgy, gripping, and unforgettable.
How to Be a Good Wife by Emma Chapman (St. Martins Press-Oct. 15th)
Synopsis-Marta and Hector have been married for a long time. Through the good and bad; through raising a son and sending him off to life after university. So long, in fact, that Marta finds it difficult to remember her life before Hector. He has always taken care of her, and she has always done everything she can to be a good wife—as advised by a dog-eared manual given to her by Hector’s aloof mother on their wedding day.
But now, something is changing. Small things seem off. A flash of movement in the corner of her eye, elapsed moments that she can’t recall. Visions of a blonde girl in the darkness that only Marta can see. Perhaps she is starting to remember—or perhaps her mind is playing tricks on her. As Marta’s visions persist and her reality grows more disjointed, it’s unclear if the danger lies in the world around her, or in Marta herself. The girl is growing more real every day, and she wants something.
Identical by Scott Turow (Grand Central-Oct. 15th)
Synopsis-IDENTICAL, based loosely on the myth of Castor and Pollux, is the story of identical twins Paul and Cass Giannis and the complex relationships between their family and their former neighbors, the Kronons. The novel focuses principally on events in 2008, when Paul is a candidate for Mayor of Kindle County, and Cass is released from the penitentiary, 25 years after pleading guilty to the murder of his girlfriend, Athena Kronon. The plot centers on the re-investigation of Athena’s murder, carried out together by Evon Miller, an ex-FBI agent who is the head of security for the Kronon family business ZP, and private investigator Tim Brodie, 81, a former homicide detective. The complex web of murder, sex, and betrayal-as only Scott Turow could weave-dramatically unfolds, and the chilling truth is revealed: people will believe what they want to believe.
Styx & Stone by James W. Ziskin (Seventh Street Books-Oct. 15th)
Synopsis-Ellie Stone is a professed modern girl in 1960s’ New York City, playing by her own rules and breaking boundaries while searching for a killer among the renowned scholars in Columbia University’s Italian Department.
“If you were a man, you’d make a good detective.”
Ellie Stone is sure that Sgt. McKeever meant that as a compliment, but that identity-a girl wanting to do a man’s job-has throttled her for too long. It’s 1960, and Ellie doesn’t want to blaze any trails for women; she just wants to be a reporter, one who doesn’t need to swat hands off her behind at every turn.
Adrift in her career, Ellie is back in New York City after receiving news that her estranged father, a renowned Dante scholar and distinguished professor, is near death after a savage bludgeoning in his home. The police suspect a routine burglary, but Ellie has her doubts. When a second attempt is made on her father’s life, in the form of an “accident” in the hospital’s ICU, Ellie’s suspicions are confirmed.
Then another professor turns up dead, and Ellie’s investigation turns to her father’s university colleagues, their ambitions, jealousies, and secret lives. Ellie embarks on a thorny journey of discovery and reconciliation, as she pursues an investigation that offers her both a chance at redemption in her father’s eyes, and the risk of losing him forever.
Fallen Women by Sandra Dallas (St. Martins Press-Oct. 22nd)
Synopsis-From the ballrooms and mansions of Denver’s newly wealthy, to the seamy life of desperate women, Fallen Women illuminates the darkest places of the human heart.
It is the spring of 1885 and wealthy New York socialite Beret Osmundsen has been estranged from her younger sister, Lillie, for a year when she gets word from her aunt and uncle that Lillie has died suddenly in Denver. What they do not tell her is that Lillie had become a prostitute and was brutally murdered in the brothel where she had been living. When Beret discovers the sordid truth of Lillie’s death, she makes her way to Denver, determined to find her sister’s murderer. Detective Mick McCauley may not want her involved in the case, but Beret is determined, and the investigation soon takes her from the dangerous, seedy underworld of Denver’s tenderloin to the highest levels of Denver society. Along the way, Beret not only learns the depths of Lillie’s depravity, but also exposes the sinister side of Gilded Age ambition in the process.
Sandra Dallas once again delivers a page-turner filled with mystery, intrigue, and the kind of intricate detail that truly transports you to another time and place.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (Little, Brown-Oct. 22nd)
Synopsis-Composed with the skills of a master, The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present day America and a drama of enthralling force and acuity.
It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.
As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.
The Goldfinch is a novel of shocking narrative energy and power. It combines unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and breathtaking suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher’s calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is a beautiful, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.
Cross and Burn by Val McDermid (Grove/Atlantic- Oct. 22nd)
Synopsis-Internationally best-selling crime writer Val McDermid’s work speaks for itself: her books have sold millions of copies worldwide, won numerous accolades, and attracted a devoted following of readers around the globe. Her latest, Cross and Burn, picks up where The Retribution left off: following the best crime-fighting team in the UK—clinical psychologist Tony Hill and police detective Carol Jordan—who when we last saw them were barely speaking, and whose relationship will now be challenged even further.
Guilt and grief have driven a wedge between long time crime-fighting partners psychologist Tony Hill and ex-DCI Carol Jordan. But just because they’re not talking doesn’t mean the killing stops.
Someone is killing women. Women who bear an unsettling resemblance to Carol Jordan. And when the evidence begins to point in a disturbing direction, thinking the unthinkable seems the only possible answer. Cornered by events, Tony and Carol are forced to fight for themselves and each other as never before.
An edge-of-your-seat page-turner from one of the best crime writers we have, Cross and Burn is a chilling, unforgettable read.
On a blustery January day, a prostitute is arrested. In the midst of the 1866 gold rush on the coast of New Zealand, this might have gone unnoticed. But three notable events occur on that same day: a luckless drunk dies, a wealthy man vanishes, and a ship’s captain of ill repute cancels all of his business and weighs anchor, as if making an escape. Anna Wetherell, the prostitute in question, is connected to all three men.
This sequence of apparently coincidental events provokes a secret council of powerful townsmen to investigate. But they are interrupted by the arrival of a stranger: young Walter Moody, who has a secret of his own…
THE LUMINARIES is an intricately crafted feat of storytelling, a mystery that reveals the ways our interconnected lives reshape our destinies.
Crooked Numbers by Tim O’Mara (Minotaur-Oct. 15th)
Synopsis-When one of Raymond Donne’s former students is found stabbed to death under the Williamsburg Bridge, Ray draws on his past as a cop to find the truth in Tim O’Mara’s second New York mystery.
Raymond Donne’s former student Douglas Lee had everything going for him thanks to a scholarship to an exclusive private school in Manhattan, but all of that falls apart when his body is found below the Williamsburg Bridge with a dozen knife wounds in it. That kind of violence would normally get some serious attention from the police and media except when it’s accompanied by signs that it could be gang related. When that’s the case, the story dies and the police are happy to settle for the straightforward explanation. Dougie’s mom isn’t having any of that and asks Ray, who had been a cop before an accident cut his career short, to look into it, unofficially. He does what he can, asking questions, doling out information to the press, and filling in some holes in the investigation, but he doesn’t get far before one of Dougie’s private school friends is killed and another is put in the hospital.
What kind of trouble could a couple of sheltered kids get into that would end like that? And what does is have to do with Dougie’s death? None of it adds up, but there’s no way Ray can just wait around for something to happen.
Following on the heels of his acclaimed debut, Tim O’Mara’s Crooked Numbers is another outstanding mystery that brings the streets of Brooklyn and Manhattan to life and further solidifies O’Mara’s place among the most talented new crime fiction writers working today.
The Tilted World by Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly (William Morrow-Oct. 1st)
Synopsis-Set against the backdrop of the historic flooding of the Mississippi River, The Tilted World is an extraordinary tale of murder and moonshine, sandbagging and saboteurs, and a man and a woman who find unexpected love, from Tom Franklin, the acclaimed author of the New York Times bestseller Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, and award-winning poet Beth Ann Fennelly
The year is 1927. As rains swell the Mississippi, the mighty river threatens to burst its banks and engulf everything in its path, including federal revenue agent Ted Ingersoll and his partner, Ham Johnson. Arriving in the tiny hamlet of Hobnob, Mississippi, to investigate the disappearance of two fellow agents who’d been on the trail of a local bootlegger, they are astonished to find a baby boy abandoned in the middle of a crime scene.
Ingersoll, an orphan raised by nuns, is determined to find the infant a home, and his search leads him to Dixie Clay Holliver. A strong woman married too young to a philandering charmer, Dixie Clay has lost a child to illness and is powerless to resist this second chance at motherhood. From the moment they meet, Ingersoll and Dixie Clay are drawn to each other. He has no idea that she’s the best bootlegger in the county and may be connected to the agents’ disappearance. And while he seems kind and gentle, Dixie Clay knows full well that he is an enemy who can never be trusted.
When Ingersoll learns that a saboteur might be among them, planning a catastrophe along the river that would wreak havoc in Hobnob, he knows that he and Dixie Clay will face challenges and choices that they will be fortunate to survive. Written with extraordinary insight and tenderness, The Tilted World is that rarest of creations, a story of seemingly ordinary people who find hope and deliverance where they least expect it—in each other.
A young woman picks up a book left behind by a stranger. Inside it are his margin notes, which reveal a reader entranced by the story and by its mysterious author. She responds with notes of her own, leaving the book for the stranger, and so begins an unlikely conversation that plunges them both into the unknown.
The book: Ship of Theseus, the final novel by a prolific but enigmatic writer named V.M. Straka, in which a man with no past is shanghaied onto a strange ship with a monstrous crew and launched onto a disorienting and perilous journey.
The writer: Straka, the incendiary and secretive subject of one of the world’s greatest mysteries, a revolutionary about whom the world knows nothing apart from the words he wrote and the rumors that swirl around him.
The readers: Jennifer and Eric, a college senior and a disgraced grad student, both facing crucial decisions about who they are, who they might become, and how much they’re willing to trust another person with their passions, hurts, and fears.
S., conceived by filmmaker J. J. Abrams and written by award-winning novelist Doug Dorst, is the chronicle of two readers finding each other in the margins of a book and enmeshing themselves in a deadly struggle between forces they don’t understand, and it is also Abrams and Dorst’s love letter to the written word.