May 2014 Must Reads in Mystery, Suspense, and Fiction

Here are the  books that I’m especially looking forward to in Mystery, Suspense, and Fiction for May (click on the covers to pre-order)! Note I took out the Top 10, because I never (ever) can keep it to just 10. These are in no particular order. 


plastercityPlaster City by Johnny Shaw (Thomas & Mercer-May 1st)

Synopsis (all synopsis are from Amazon or B&N)-Jimmy Veeder and Bobby Maves are back at it, two years after the events of Dove Season—they’re not exactly the luckiest guys in the Imperial Valley, but, hey, they win more fights than they lose.

Settled on his own farmland and living like a true family man after years of irresponsible fun, Jimmy’s got a straight life cut out for him. But he’s knocking years off that life thanks to fun-yet-dangerous Bobby’s booze-addled antics—especially now that Bobby is single, volatile, profane as ever, and bored as hell.

When Bobby’s teenage daughter goes missing, he and Jimmy take off on a misadventure that starts out as merely unfortunate and escalates to downright calamitous. Bobby won’t hesitate to kick a hornets’ nest to get the girl to safety, but when the rescue mission goes riotously sideways, the duo’s grit—and loyalty to each other—is put to the test.


wolfWolf by Mo Hayder (Atlantic Monthly-May 6th)
Synopsis-Edgar Award winner and internationally best-selling author Mo Hayder has made her name with nightmarishly dark, impeccably-plotted thrillers that hook readers from the first page and won’t let them go, netting numerous awards and attracting legions of fans from around the globe. With her latest novel, Wolf, the frighteningly talented “queen of hardcore in high heels” (Le Point Magazine, France) ratchets up the terror yet another notch, with a bone-chilling home invasion novel.

When a vagrant—the Walking Man—finds a dog wandering alone with the words “HELP US” written on its collar, he’s sure it’s a desperate plea from someone in trouble and calls on Detective Inspector Jack Caffery to investigate. Caffery is reluctant to get involved—until the Walking Man promises new information regarding the childhood abduction of Caffery’s brother in exchange for the detective’s help tracking down the dog’s owners. Caffery has no idea who or what he is searching for, but one thing he is sure of: it’s a race against time.

Meanwhile, the Anchor-Ferrers, a wealthy local family, are fighting for their lives in their remote home ten miles away. Two men have tricked their way into the house and are holding the family for ransom. Yet as the captors’ demands become increasingly bizarre and humiliating, it becomes clear that this is more than a random crime—it’s a personal vendetta.

With all of the taut suspense and terrifying twists that have kept her fans on the edge of their seats for years, Wolf cements Hayder’s place at the top of the crime-writing field.

My review of WOLF


thebookofyouThe Book of You by Claire Kendal (Harper-May 6th)
Synopsis-A mesmerizing tale of psychological suspense about a woman who must fight to escape an expert manipulator determined to possess her, Claire Kendal’s debut novel is a sophisticated and disturbing portrait of compulsion, control, and terror that will appeal to fans of Before I Go to Sleep, The Silent Wife, and Into the Darkest Corner.

His name is Rafe, and he is everywhere Clarissa turns. At the university where she works. Her favorite sewing shop. The train station. Outside her apartment. His messages choke her voice mail; his gifts litter her mailbox. Since that one regrettable night, his obsession with her has grown, becoming more terrifying with each passing day. And as Rafe has made clear, he will never let her go.

Clarissa’s only escape from this harrowing nightmare is inside a courtroom—where she is a juror on a trial involving a victim whose experiences eerily parallel her own. There she finds some peace and even makes new friends, including an attractive widower named Robert, whose caring attentions make her feel desired and safe. But as a disturbingly violent crime unfolds in the courtroom, Clarissa realizes that to survive she must expose Rafe herself. Conceiving a plan, she begins collecting the evidence of Rafe’s madness to use against him—a record of terror that will force her to relive every excruciating moment she desperately wants to forget. Proof that will reveal the twisted, macabre fairy tale that Rafe has spun around them . . . with an ending more horrifying than her darkest fears.

Masterfully constructed, filled with exquisite tension and a pervasive sense of menace, The Book of You explores the lines between love and compulsion, fantasy and reality, and offers a heart-stopping portrait of a woman determined to survive. Claire Kendal’s extraordinary debut will haunt readers long after it reaches its terrifying, breathtaking conclusion.


thepainterThe Painter by Peter Heller (Knopf-May 6th)
Synopsis-Peter Heller, the celebrated author of the breakout best seller The Dog Stars, returns with an achingly beautiful, wildly suspenseful second novel about an artist trying to outrun his past.

Jim Stegner has seen his share of violence and loss. Years ago he shot a man in a bar. His marriage disintegrated. He grieved the one thing he loved. In the wake of tragedy, Jim, a well-known expressionist painter, abandoned the art scene of Santa Fe to start fresh in the valleys of rural Colorado. Now he spends his days painting and fly-fishing, trying to find a way to live with the dark impulses that sometimes overtake him. He works with a lovely model. His paintings fetch excellent prices. But one afternoon, on a dirt road, Jim comes across a man beating a small horse, and a brutal encounter rips his quiet life wide open. Fleeing Colorado, chased by men set on retribution, Jim returns to New Mexico, tormented by his own relentless conscience.

A stunning, savage novel of art and violence, love and grief, The Painter is the story of a man who longs to transcend the shadows in his heart, a man intent on using the losses he has suffered to create a meaningful life.


untamedstateAn Untamed State by Roxane Gay (Grove-May 6th)
Synopsis-Roxane Gay is a powerful new literary voice whose short stories and essays have already earned her an enthusiastic audience. In An Untamed State, she delivers an assured debut about a woman kidnapped for ransom, her captivity as her father refuses to pay and her husband fights for her release over thirteen days, and her struggle to come to terms with the ordeal in its aftermath.

Mireille Duval Jameson is living a fairy tale. The strong-willed youngest daughter of one of Haiti’s richest sons, she has an adoring husband, a precocious infant son, by all appearances a perfect life. The fairy tale ends one day when Mireille is kidnapped in broad daylight by a gang of heavily armed men, in front of her father’s Port au Prince estate. Held captive by a man who calls himself The Commander, Mireille waits for her father to pay her ransom. As it becomes clear her father intends to resist the kidnappers, Mireille must endure the torments of a man who resents everything she represents.

An Untamed State is a novel of privilege in the face of crushing poverty, and of the lawless anger that corrupt governments produce. It is the story of a willful woman attempting to find her way back to the person she once was, and of how redemption is found in the most unexpected of places. An Untamed State establishes Roxane Gay as a writer of prodigious, arresting talent.

My review of AN UNTAMED STATE


bonedustwhiteBone Dust White by Karin Salvalaggio (Minotaur-May 13th)
Synopsis-Someone is knocking at the door to Grace Adams’s house and won’t stop. Grace thinks she knows who it is, but when she looks out her bedroom window, she sees a woman she doesn’t recognize walking on the trails behind her home. The woman isn’t alone for long before a man emerges from the dark of the surrounding woods and stabs her, then retreats into the shadows, leaving her to die in the snow. Frantic, Grace calls the police but knows they’ll never arrive in time, so she herself goes to the woman and is shocked to find she’s not a stranger—and that only raises more questions.

Badly shocked, Grace is taken to the hospital, and Detective Macy Greeley is called back to the small town of Collier, Montana, where she worked a case once before. She needs to track down the killer and find out what the murder has to do with Grace, a troubled young woman whose harrowing past may have finally come in from the cold. But the town of Collier is just as hard-bitten now as it was years ago, and Macy will have to reopen old wounds as she investigates a murder that looks like it took eleven years to come to pass.

 


wewereliars

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (Delacorte-May 13th)
Synopsis-
A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.


debbiedoesntDebbie Doesn’t Do It Anymore by Walter Mosley (Knopf-May 13th)
Synopsis-In this scorching, mournful, often explicit, and never less than moving literary novel by the famed creator of the Easy Rawlins series, Debbie Dare, a black porn queen, has to come to terms with her sordid life in the adult entertainment industry after her tomcatting husband dies in a hot tub. Electrocuted. With another woman in there with him. Debbie decides she just isn’t going to “do it anymore.” But executing her exit strategy from the porn world is a wrenching and far from simple process.

Millions of men (and no doubt many women) have watched famed black porn queen Debbie Dare—she of the blond wig and blue contacts-“do it” on television and computer screens every which way with every combination of partners the mind of man can imagine. But one day an unexpected and thunderous on-set orgasm catches Debbie unawares, and when she returns to the mansion she shares with her husband, insatiable former porn star and “film producer” Theon Pinkney, she discovers that he’s died in a case of hot tub electrocution, “auditioning” an aspiring “starlet.” Burdened with massive debts that her husband incurred, and which various L.A. heavies want to collect on, Debbie must reckon with a life spent in the peculiar subculture of the pornography industry and her estrangement from her family and the child she had to give up. She’s done with porn, but her options for what might come next include the possibility of suicide. Debbie . . . is a portrait of a ransacked but resilient soul in search of salvation and a cure for grief.


The Devil’s Workshop by Alex Grecian (Putnam-May 20th)
devilsworkshopSynopsis-Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad faces the most shocking case of its existence, in the extraordinary new historical thriller from the author of the acclaimed national bestseller The Yard.

London, 1890. Four vicious murderers have escaped from prison, part of a plan gone terribly wrong, and now it is up to Walter Day, Nevil Hammersmith, and the rest of Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad to hunt down the convicts before the men can resume their bloody spree. But they might already be too late. The killers have retribution in mind, and one of them is heading straight toward a member of the Murder Squad, and his family.

And that isn’t even the worst of it. During the escape, the killers have stumbled upon the location of another notorious murderer, one thought gone for good but now prepared to join forces with them.

Jack the Ripper is loose in London once more.


americanwomanAmerican Woman by Robert Pobi (Thomas & Mercer-May 20th)
Synopsis-Overview
A stifling heat wave rolls into New York City, amplifying the already critical level of tension in the fragile concrete ecosystem. The air tastes of electricity—the negative charge of bad things to come—but everyone hopes it’s just the temperature. Then, on the morning homicide detective Alexandra “Hemi” Hemingway finds out she is pregnant, a twisted serial killer makes his debut. And the heat goes up.

Not for the faint of heart—American Woman is a relentless ride that takes you through the fractured world of a nascent killer. And you will never feel safe again.


nightheronNight Heron by Adam Brookes (Redhook-May 27th)
Synopsis-Set in China, and ripped from today’s headlines, comes a pulse-pounding debut that reinvents the spy thriller for the 21st century.

A lone man, Peanut, escapes a labor camp in the dead of night, fleeing across the winter desert of north-west China.

Two decades earlier, he was a spy for the British; now Peanut must disappear on Beijing’s surveillance-blanketed streets. Desperate and ruthless, he reaches out to his one-time MI6 paymasters via crusading journalist Philip Mangan, offering military secrets in return for extraction.

But the secrets prove more valuable than Peanut or Mangan could ever have known… and not only to the British.


iampilgrimI Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes (Atria-May 27th)
Synopsis-The astonishing story of one man’s breakneck race against time . . . and an implacable enemy.

An anonymous young woman murdered in a run-down hotel, all identifying characteristics dissolved by acid.

A father publicly beheaded in the blistering heat of a Saudi Arabian public square.

A notorious Syrian biotech expert found eyeless in a Damascus junkyard.

Smoldering human remains on a remote mountainside in Afghanistan.

A flawless plot to commit an appalling crime against humanity.

One path links them all, and only one man can make the journey.


sundanceSundance by David Fuller (Riverhead-May 29th)
Synopsis-A gripping historical novel of love and vengeance starring Harry Longbaugh, better known as the Sundance Kid.

Legend has it that bank robber Harry Longbaugh and his partner Robert Parker were killed in a shootout in Bolivia. That was the supposed end of the Sundance Kid and Butch Cassidy.

Sundance tells a different story. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Longbaugh is very much alive, though serving in a Wyoming prison under an alias.

When he is released in 1913, Longbaugh reenters a changed world. Horses are being replaced by automobiles. Gas lamps are giving way to electric lights. Workers fight for safety, and women for the vote. What hasn’t changed are Longbaugh’s ingenuity, his deadly aim, and his love for his wife, Etta Place.

It’s been two years since Etta stopped visiting him, and, determined to find her, Longbaugh follows her trail to New York City. Confounded by the city’s immensity, energy, chaos, and crowds, he learns that his wife was very different from the woman he thought he knew. Longbaugh finds himself in a tense game of cat and mouse, racing against time before the legend of the Sundance Kid catches up to destroy him.

By turns suspenseful, rollicking, and poignant, Sundance is the story of a man dogged by his own past, seeking his true place in this new world.

Comments are closed