March 2015 Must Reads in Mystery, Suspense, and Fiction

Here are the  books that I’m especially looking forward to in Mystery, Suspense, and Fiction for March (ya’ll, I thought Feb was a fab month for suspense, but March takes the cake so far!!) Enjoy (all synopsis are from B&N or Amazon)!


Dark Rooms by Lili Anolik (William Morrow-March 3rd)

Synopsis-The Secret History meets Sharp Objects in this stunning debut about murder and glamour set in the ambiguous and claustrophobic world of an exclusive New England prep school.

Death sets the plot in motion: the murder of Nica Baker, beautiful, wild, enigmatic, and only sixteen. The crime is solved, and quickly—a lonely classmate, unrequited love, a suicide note confession—but memory and instinct won’t allow Nica’s older sister, Grace, to accept the case as closed.

Dropping out of college and living at home, working at the moneyed and progressive private high school in Hartford, Connecticut, from which she recently graduated, Grace becomes increasingly obsessed with identifying and punishing the real killer.

Compulsively readable, Lili Anolik’s debut novel combines the verbal dexterity of Marisha Pessl’s Special Topic in Calamity Physics and the haunting atmospherics and hairpin plot twists of Megan Abbott’s Dare Me.


Past Crimes by Glen Erik Hamilton (William Morrow-March 3rd)

Synopsis-When his estranged grandfather is shot and left for dead, an Army Ranger plunges into the criminal underworld of his youth to find a murderer . . . and uncovers a shocking family secret

From the time he was six years old, Van Shaw was raised by his Irish immigrant grandfather Donovan to be a thief—to boost cars, beat security alarms, crack safes, and burglarize businesses. But at eighteen, Dono’s namesake and protégé suddenly broke all ties to that life and the people in it. Van escaped into the military, serving as an elite Army Ranger in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, after ten years of silence, Dono has asked his grandson to come home to Seattle. “Tar abhaile, más féidir leat”—Come home, if you can.

Taking some well-earned leave, Van heads to the Pacific Northwest, curious and a little unnerved by his grandfather’s request. But when he arrives at Dono’s house in the early hours of the morning, Van discovers the old thief bleeding out on the floor from a gunshot to the head. The last time the two men had seen each other Dono had also been lying on the floor—with Van pointing a gun at his heart. With a lifetime of tough history between him and the old man, the battle-tested Ranger knows the cops will link him to the crime.

To clear his name and avenge his grandfather, Van must track down the shooter. Odds are strong that Dono knew the person. Was it a greedy accomplice? A disgruntled rival? Diving back into the illicit world he’d sworn to leave behind, Van reconnects with the ruthless felons who knew Dono best. Armed with his military and criminal skills, he follows a dangerous trail of clues that leads him deeper into Dono’s life—and closer to uncovering what drove his grandfather to reach out after years of silence. As he plummets back into this violent, high-stakes world where right and wrong aren’t defined by the law, Van finds that the past is all too present . . . and that the secrets held by those closest to him are the deadliest of all.

Edgy and suspenseful, rich with emotional resonance, gritty action, and a deep-rooted sense of place, Past Crimes trumpets the arrival of a powerful new noir talent.


Act of God by Jill Ciment (Pantheon-March 3rd)

Synopsis-It’s the summer of 2015, Brooklyn. The city is sweltering from another record-breaking heat wave, this one accompanied by biblical rains. Edith, recently retired legal librarian, and her identical twin sister, Kat, a feckless romantic who’s mistaken her own eccentricity for originality, discover something ominous in their hall closet: it seems to be phosphorescent; it’s a mushroom . . . and it’s sprouting from their wall.

Upstairs, their landlady, Vida Cebu, a Shakespearian actress far more famous for her TV commercials for Ziberax (the first female sexual enhancement pill) than for her stage work, discovers that a petite Russian girl, a runaway au pair, has been secretly living in her guest-room closet. When the police arrest the intruder, they find a second mushroom, also glowing, under the intruder’s bedding. Soon the HAZMAT squad arrives, and the four women are forced to evacuate the contaminated row house with only the clothes on their backs.

As the mold infestation spreads from row house to high-rise, and frightened, bewildered New Yorkers wait out this plague (is it an act of God?) on their city and property, the four women become caught up in a centrifugal nightmare.

Part horror story, part screwball comedy, Jill Ciment’s brilliant suspense novel looks at what happens when our lives—so seemingly set and ordered, yet so precariously balanced—break down in the wake of calamity. A novel, as well, about love (familial and profound) and how it can appear from the most unlikely circumstances.


Where All Light Tends to Go by David Joy (Putnam-March 3rd)

Synopsis-The area surrounding Cashiers, North Carolina, is home to people of all kinds, but the world that Jacob McNeely lives in is crueler than most. His father runs a methodically organized meth ring, with local authorities on the dime to turn a blind eye to his dealings. Having dropped out of high school and cut himself off from his peers, Jacob has been working for this father for years, all on the promise that his payday will come eventually. The only joy he finds comes from reuniting with Maggie, his first love, and a girl clearly bound for bigger and better things than their hardscrabble town.

Jacob has always been resigned to play the cards that were dealt him, but when a fatal mistake changes everything, he’s faced with a choice: stay and appease his father, or leave the mountains with the girl he loves. In a place where blood is thicker than water and hope takes a back seat to fate, Jacob wonders if he can muster the strength to rise above the only life he’s ever known.


The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson (Harper-March 3rd)

Synopsis-Nothing is as permanent as it appears . . .

Denver, 1962: Kitty Miller has come to terms with her unconventional single life. She loves the bookshop she runs with her best friend, Frieda, and enjoys complete control over her day-to-day existence. She can come and go as she pleases, answering to no one. There was a man once, a doctor named Kevin, but it didn’t quite work out the way Kitty had hoped.

Then the dreams begin.

Denver, 1963: Katharyn Andersson is married to Lars, the love of her life. They have beautiful children, an elegant home, and good friends. It’s everything Kitty Miller once believed she wanted—but it only exists when she sleeps.

Convinced that these dreams are simply due to her overactive imagination, Kitty enjoys her nighttime forays into this alternate world. But with each visit, the more irresistibly real Katharyn’s life becomes. Can she choose which life she wants? If so, what is the cost of staying Kitty, or becoming Katharyn?

As the lines between her worlds begin to blur, Kitty must figure out what is real and what is imagined. And how do we know where that boundary lies in our own lives?


Bone Gap by Laura Ruby (Balzer & Bray-March 3rd)

Synopsis-Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps—gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. After all, it wasn’t the first time that someone had slipped away and left Finn and Sean O’Sullivan on their own. Just a few years ago, their mother hightailed it to Oregon for a brand-new guy, a brand-new life. That’s just how things go, the people said. Who are you going to blame?

Finn knows that’s not what happened with Roza. He knows she was kidnapped, ripped from the cornfields by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember. But the searches turn up nothing, and no one believes him anymore. Not even Sean, who has more reason to find Roza than anyone and every reason to blame Finn for letting her go.

As we follow the stories of Finn, Roza, and the people of Bone Gap—their melancholy pasts, their terrifying presents, their uncertain futures—acclaimed author Laura Ruby weaves a heartbreaking tale of love and loss, magic and mystery, regret and forgiveness—a story about how the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are.


The House of Wolfe by James Carlos Blake (Mysterious Press-March 3rd)

Synopsis-On a rainy winter night in Mexico City, a ten-member wedding party is kidnapped in front of the groom’s family mansion. The perpetrator is a small-time gangster named El Galán, who wants nothing more than to make his crew part of a major cartel and hopes that this crime will be his big break. He sets the wedding party’s ransom at five million US dollars, to be paid in cash within 24 hours.

The only captive not related to either the bride or the groom is the young Jessica Juliet Wolfe, a bridesmaid and close friend of the bride. Jessie hails from a family of notorious outlaws that has branches on both sides of the border, and when the Wolfes learn of Jessie’s abduction, they fear that the kidnappers will kill the captives after receiving the ransom—unless they rescue Jessie first.

Gritty and exhilarating, The House of Wolfe takes readers on a wild ride from Mexico City’s opulent neighborhoods to its frenetic downtown streets and feral shantytowns, as El Galán proves how dangerous it is to underestimate an ambitious criminal, and Jessie’s blood kin desperately try to find her before it’s too late.


The Unloved by Deborah Levy (Bloomsbury-March 3rd)
Synopsis-The image is instant. It whirs out of the camera and they all watch it develop in silence.
“Here.” He gives the photograph to the perfect flawless woman without looking at it, by way of apology. When everyone gathers around Luciana to admire it, Gustav clicks again.
The unloved look brave.
The unloved look heavier than the loved. Their eyes are sadder but their thoughts are clearer. They are not concerned with pleasing or affirming their loved one’s point of view.
The unloved look preoccupied.
The unloved look impatient.

A group of hedonistic tourists–from Algeria, England, Poland, Germany, Italy, France, and America–gathers to celebrate the holidays in a remote French chateau. Then a woman is brutally murdered, and the sad, eerie child Tatiana declares she knows who did it. The subsequent inquiry into the death, however, proves to be more of an investigation into the nature of identity, love, insatiable rage, and sadistic desire. The Unloved offers a bold and revealing look at some of the events that shaped European and African history, and the perils of a future founded on concealed truth.


As White as Snow by Salla Simukka (Skyscape-March 3rd)

Synopsis-The heat of the summer sun bakes the streets of Prague, but Lumikki’s heart is frozen solid.

Looking to escape the notoriety caused by the part she played in taking down Polar Bear’s crime ring, seventeen-year-old Lumikki Andersson escapes to Prague, where she hopes to find a few weeks of peace among the hordes of tourists. But not long after arriving, she’s cornered by a skittish and strange young woman who claims to be her long-lost sister. The woman, Lenka, is obviously terrified, and even though Lumikki doesn’t believe her story—although parts of it ring true—she can’t just walk away.

Lumikki quickly gets caught up in Lenka’s sad and mysterious world, uncovering pieces of a mystery that take her from the belly of a poisonous cult to the highest echelons of corporate power. On the run for her life again, Lumikki must use all her wits to survive, but in the end, she just may discover she can’t do it all alone.


Lacy Eye by Jessica Treadway (Grand Central-March 10th)

Synopsis-Hanna Schutt never suspected that her younger daughter’s happiness would lead to her husband’s death and the destruction of their family. When Dawn brings her new boyfriend home from college for a visit, her parents and sister try to hide their doubts because they’re glad that Dawn – always an awkward child – appears to have grown into a confident, mature young woman in her relationship with Rud. But when Hanna and her husband, Joe, are beaten savagely in their bed, Rud becomes the chief suspect and stands trial for Joe’s murder.

Claiming her boyfriend’s innocence, Dawn estranges herself from her mother, who survived the attack with serious injuries and impaired memory. When Rud wins an appeal and Dawn returns to the family home saying she wants to support her mother, Hanna decides to try to remember details of that traumatic night so she can testify to keep her husband’s murderer in jail, never guessing that the process might cause her to question everything she thought she knew about her daughter.


Soil by Jamie Kornegay (Simon & Schuster-March 10th)

Synopsis-A darkly comic debut novel by an independent bookseller about an idealistic young farmer who moves his family to a Mississippi flood basin, suffers financial ruin—and becomes increasingly paranoid he’s being framed for murder.

It all began with a simple dream. An ambitious young environmental scientist hoped to establish a sustainable farm on a small patch of river-bottom land nestled among the Mississippi hills. Jay Mize convinced his wife Sandy to move their six-year-old son away from town and to a rich and lush parcel where Jacob could run free and Jay could pursue the dream of a new and progressive agriculture for the twenty-first century. He did not know that within a year he’d be ruined, that flood and pestilence would invade his fledgling farm or that his wife and son would leave him to pick up the pieces by himself.

When Jay Mize discovers a corpse on his property, he is sure his bad luck has come to a head and he is being framed. Were Jay in his right mind, he might have reported the body to the police at the very same moment they were searching for a missing tourist from Ohio. He might have not dragged the body back to his farm under the cover of night and spent hours disposing of it. But Jay Mize is not in his right mind. His mounting paranoia is accelerated by a hot-rod local deputy, nosing around with questions about the missing tourist and making dark comments about Jay’s estranged wife Sandy. It’s enough to make an honest man a maniac…


Life or Death by Michael Robotham (Mulholland-March 10th)

Synopsis-Why would a man serving a long prison sentence escape the day before he’s due to be released?

Audie Palmer has spent ten years in a Texas prison after pleading guilty to a robbery in which four people died and seven million dollars went missing. During that time he has suffered repeated beatings, stabbings and threats by inmates and guards, all desperate to answer the same question: where’s the money?

On the day before Audie is due to be released, he suddenly vanishes. Now everybody is searching for him – the police, FBI, gangsters and other powerful figures – but Audie isn’t running to save his own life. Instead, he’s trying to save someone else’s.

Michael Robotham has created the ultimate underdog hero, an honorable criminal shrouded in mystery and ready to lead readers on a remarkable chase.


Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver (HarperCollins-March 10th)

Synopsis-Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara’s beautiful face scarred and the two sisters totally estranged. When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl, nine-year-old Madeline Snow, has vanished, too, and Nick becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances are linked. Now Nick has to find her sister, before it’s too late.

In this edgy and compelling novel, Lauren Oliver creates a world of intrigue, loss, and suspicion as two sisters search to find themselves, and each other.


The Valley by John Reneham (Dutton-March 10th)

Synopsis-“You’re going up the Valley.”

Black didn’t know its name, but he knew it lay deeper and higher than any other place Americans had ventured. You had to travel through a network of interlinked valleys, past all the other remote American outposts, just to get to its mouth. Everything about the place was myth and rumor, but one fact was clear: There were many valleys in the mountains of Afghanistan, and most were hard places where people died hard deaths. But there was only one Valley. It was the farthest, and the hardest, and the worst.

When Black, a deskbound admin officer, is sent up the Valley to investigate a warning shot fired by a near-forgotten platoon, he can only see it as the final bureaucratic insult in a short and unhappy Army career. What he doesn’t know is that his investigation puts at risk the centuries-old arrangements that keep this violent land in fragile balance, and will launch a shattering personal odyssey of obsession and discovery as Black reckons with the platoon’s dark secrets, accumulated over endless hours fighting and dying in defense of an indefensible piece of land.


The Unraveling of Mercy Louis by Keija Parssinen (Harper-March 10th)

Synopsis-In this intricate novel of psychological suspense, a fatal discovery near the high school ignites a witch-hunt in a Southeast Texas refinery town, unearthing communal and family secrets that threaten the lives of the town’s girls.

In Port Sabine, the air is thick with oil, superstition reigns, and dreams hang on making a winning play. All eyes are on Mercy Louis, the star of the championship girls’ basketball team. Mercy seems destined for greatness, but the road out of town is riddled with obstacles. There is her grandmother, Evelia, a strict evangelical who has visions of an imminent Rapture and sees herself as the keeper of Mercy’s virtue. There are the cryptic letters from Charmaine, the mother who abandoned Mercy at birth. And then there’s Travis, the boy who shakes the foundation of her faith.

At the periphery of Mercy’s world floats team manager Illa Stark, a lonely wallflower whose days are spent caring for a depressed mother crippled in a refinery accident. Like the rest of the town, Illa is spellbound by Mercy’s beauty and talent, but a note discovered in Mercy’s gym locker reveals that her life may not be as perfect as it appears.

The last day of school brings the disturbing discovery, and as summer unfolds and the police investigate, every girl becomes a suspect. When Mercy collapses on the opening night of the season, Evelia prophesies that she is only the first to fall, and soon, other girls are afflicted by the mysterious condition, sending the town into a tailspin, and bringing Illa and Mercy together in an unexpected way.

Evocative and unsettling, The Unraveling of Mercy Louis charts the downfall of one town’s golden girl while exploring the brutality and anxieties of girlhood in America.


The Only Ones by Carola Dibbell (Two Dollar Radio-March 17th)

Synopsis-Inez wanders a post-pandemic world, strangely immune to disease, making her living by volunteering as a test subject. She is hired to provide genetic material to a grief-stricken, affluent mother, who lost all four of her daughters within four short weeks. This experimental genetic work is policed by a hazy network of governmental ethics committees, and threatened by the Knights of Life, religious zealots who raze the rural farms where much of this experimentation is done.

When the mother backs out at the last minute, Inez is left responsible for the product, which in this case is a baby girl, Ani. Inez must protect Ani, who is a scientific breakthrough, keeping her alive, dodging authorities and religious fanatics, and trying to provide Ani with the childhood that Inez never had, which means a stable home and an education.

With a stylish voice influenced by years of music writing, The Only Ones is a time-old story, tender and iconic, about how much we love our children, however they come, as well as a sly commentary on class, politics, and the complexities of reproductive technology.


Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller (Tin House Books-March 10th)

Synopsis-Peggy Hillcoat is eight years old when her survivalist father, James, takes her from their home in London to a remote hut in the woods and tells her that the rest of the world has been destroyed. Deep in the wilderness, Peggy and James make a life for themselves. They repair the hut, bathe in water from the river, hunt and gather food in the summers and almost starve in the harsh winters. They mark their days only by the sun and the seasons.

When Peggy finds a pair of boots in the forest and begins a search for their owner, she unwittingly unravels the series of events that brought her to the woods and, in doing so, discovers the strength she needs to go back to the home and mother she thought she’d lost.

After Peggy’s return to civilization, her mother begins to learn the truth of her escape, of what happened to James on the last night out in the woods, and of the secret that Peggy has carried with her ever since.


The Pocket Wife by Susan Crawford (William Morrow-March 17th)

Synopsis-A stylish psychological thriller with the compelling intrigue of The Silent Wife and Turn of Mind and the white-knuckle pacing of Before I Go to Sleep—in which a woman suffering from bipolar disorder cannot remember if she murdered her friend.

Dana Catrell is shocked when her neighbor Celia is brutally murdered. To Dana’s horror, she was the last person to see Celia alive. Suffering from mania, the result of her bipolar disorder, she has troubling holes in her memory, including what happened on the afternoon of Celia’s death.

Her husband’s odd behavior and the probing of Detective Jack Moss create further complications as she searches for answers. The closer she comes to piecing together the shards of her broken memory, the more Dana falls apart. Is there a murderer lurking inside her . . . or is there one out there in the shadows of reality, waiting to strike again?

A story of marriage, murder, and madness, The Pocket Wife explores the world through the foggy lens of a woman on the edge.


The Fifth Heart by Dan Simmons (Little, Brown-March 17th)

Synopsis-In 1893, Sherlock Holmes and Henry James come to America together to solve the mystery of the 1885 death of Clover Adams, wife of the esteemed historian Henry Adams–member of the Adams family that has given the United States two Presidents. Clover’s suicide appears to be more than it at first seemed; the suspected foul play may involve matters of national importance.

Holmes is currently on his Great Hiatus–his three-year absence after Reichenbach Falls during which time the people of London believe him to be deceased. Holmes has faked his own death because, through his powers of ratiocination, the great detective has come to the conclusion that he is a fictional character.

This leads to serious complications for James–for if his esteemed fellow investigator is merely a work of fiction, what does that make him? And what can the master storyteller do to fight against the sinister power — possibly named Moriarty — that may or may not be controlling them from the shadows?


Delicious Foods by James Hannaham (Little, Brown-March 17th)

Synopsis-Held captive by her employers-and by her own demons-on a mysterious farm, a widow struggles to reunite with her young son in this uniquely American story of freedom, perseverance, and survival.

Darlene, once an exemplary wife and a loving mother to her young son, Eddie, finds herself devastated by the unforeseen death of her husband. Unable to cope with her grief, she turns to drugs, and quickly forms an addiction. One day she disappears without a trace.

Unbeknownst to eleven-year-old Eddie, now left behind in a panic-stricken search for her, Darlene has been lured away with false promises of a good job and a rosy life. A shady company named Delicious Foods shuttles her to a remote farm, where she is held captive, performing hard labor in the fields to pay off the supposed debt for her food, lodging, and the constant stream of drugs the farm provides to her and the other unfortunates imprisoned there.

In Delicious Foods, James Hannaham tells the gripping story of three unforgettable characters: a mother, her son, and the drug that threatens to destroy them. Through Darlene’s haunted struggle to reunite with Eddie, through the efforts of both to triumph over those who would enslave them, and through the irreverent and mischievous voice of the drug that narrates Darlene’s travails, Hannaham’s daring and shape-shifting prose infuses this harrowing experience with grace and humor.

The desperate circumstances that test the unshakeable bond between this mother and son unfold into myth, and Hannaham’s treatment of their ordeal spills over with compassion. Along the way we experience a tale at once contemporary and historical that wrestles with timeless questions of love and freedom, forgiveness and redemption, tenacity and the will to survive.


Down Don’t Bother Me by Jason Miller (Bourbon Street-March 24th)

Synopsis-A hugely entertaining debut—the first novel in a wickedly funny gothic mystery series set in the withering landscape of the southern Illinois coal country known as “little Egypt”—that blends the wry humor of Kevin Wilson, the dark violence of Urban Waite, and the electric atmosphere of Greg Iles.

In the depths of the Knight Hawk, one of the last working collieries in downstate Illinois, the body of a reporter is found, his mini-recorder tied around his neck and a notepad stuffed in his mouth.

The Knight Hawk’s owner, Matthew Luster, isn’t happy. He wants answers—and he doesn’t want the cops or any more press poking into his business. To protect himself and the operation, he turns to Slim, a mine employee with a reputation for “bloodhounding”-finding lost souls when the police can’t or won’t. Luster needs Slim to locate a missing photographer named Beckett, a close associate of the victim . . . who just happens to be his son-in-law.

A hard-working single father barely making ends meet, Slim accepts the job—after Luster offers him a guaranteed pension and job security for life. But when you make a deal with the devil, you’re going to get burned . . . . and now Slim is all too close to the flames. Circumstances have lead him into the grimy underworld of Little Egypt, Illinois—a Babel’s Tower of rednecks, rubes, freaks, tweakers, gun nuts, and aging hippies-and it quickly becomes clear that he’s much more involved in the murder than an innocent man should be.

Down Don’t Bother Me marks the emergence of a wildly assured mystery novelist, and of a series set in the fresh and brutal landscape of southern Illinois.


Inspector of the Dead by David Morrell (Mulholland-March 24th)

Synopsis-The year is 1855. The Crimean War is raging. The incompetence of British commanders causes the fall of the English government. The Empire teeters. Amid this crisis comes opium-eater Thomas De Quincey, one of the most notorious and brilliant personalities of Victorian England. Along with his irrepressible daughter, Emily, and their Scotland Yard companions, Ryan and Becker, De Quincey finds himself confronted by an adversary who threatens the heart of the nation.

This killer targets members of the upper echelons of British society, leaving with each corpse the name of someone who previously attempted to kill Queen Victoria. The evidence indicates that the ultimate victim will be Victoria herself.


A Reunion of Ghosts by Judith Claire Mitchell (Harper-March 24th)

Synopsis-Three wickedly funny sisters. One family’s extraordinary legacy. A single suicide note that spans a century…

Meet the Alter sisters—Lady, Vee, and Delph—three delightfully witty, complicated women who live together in their family’s apartment on the Upper West Side. Though they love each other fiercely, being an Alter isn’t easy. Bad luck is in their genes, passed down through the generations. But no matter what curves life throws at these siblings, they always have a wisecrack—and each other.

Now, in the waning days of 1999, as the century comes to an end, Lady, Vee, and Delph decide that their time is up, too. First, they must write a note: a mesmerizing accounting of their lives that stretches back decades, to the brilliant scientist—their great grandfather—whose sinister legacy has defined them.

Smart, heartbreaking, and completely original, Reunion of Ghosts is an epic story of three unforgettable women and one exceptional family, and a magnificent saga of the twentieth century itself.


The Harder They Come by TC Boyle (Ecco-March 31st)

Synopsis-Set in contemporary Northern California, The Harder They Come explores the volatile connections between three damaged people—an aging ex-Marine and Vietnam veteran, his psychologically unstable son, and the son’s paranoid, much older lover—as they careen towards an explosive confrontation.

On a vacation cruise to Central America with his wife, seventy-year-old Sten Stensen unflinchingly kills a gun-wielding robber menacing a busload of senior tourists. The reluctant hero is relieved to return home to Fort Bragg, California, after the ordeal—only to find that his delusional son, Adam, has spiraled out of control.

Adam has become involved with Sara Hovarty Jennings, a hardened member of the Sovereign Citizens’ Movement, right-wing anarchists who refuse to acknowledge the laws and regulations of the state, considering them to be false and non-applicable. Adam’s senior by some fifteen years, Sara becomes his protector and inamorata. As Adam’s mental state fractures, he becomes increasingly schizophrenic—a breakdown that leads him to shoot two people in separate instances. On the run, he takes to the woods, spurring the biggest manhunt in California history.

As he explores a father’s legacy of violence and his powerlessness in relating to his equally violent son, T. C. Boyle offers unparalleled psychological insights into the American psyche. Inspired by a true story, The Harder They Come is a devastating and indelible novel from a modern master.


The Strangler Vine by MJ Carter (Putnam-March 31st)

Synopsis-Set in the untamed wilds of nineteenth-century colonial India, a dazzling historical thriller introducing an unforgettable investigative pair.

India, 1837: William Avery is a young soldier with few prospects except rotting away in campaigns in India; Jeremiah Blake is a secret political agent gone native, a genius at languages and disguises, disenchanted with the whole ethos of British rule, but who cannot resist the challenge of an unresolved mystery. What starts as a wild goose chase for this unlikely pair—trying to track down a missing writer who lifts the lid on Calcutta society—becomes very much more sinister as Blake and Avery get sucked into the mysterious Thuggee cult and its even more ominous suppression.

There are shades of Heart of Darkness, sly references to Conan Doyle, that bring brilliantly to life the India of the 1830s with its urban squalor, glamorous princely courts and bazaars, and the ambiguous presence of the British overlords—the officers of the East India Company—who have their own predatory ambitions beyond London’s oversight.


Murder Boy by Bryon Quertermous (Polis-March 31st)

Synopsis-Dominick Prince is out of options. He’s lived in Detroit long enough to use his experiences of crime and poverty to fuel his writing, but he’s ready to move on to bigger and better things. Dominick’s thesis advisor, the elitist Parker Farmington, refuses to let Dominick pass his class, thinking the genre of potboilers beneath him. Which means rather than becoming the next literary sensation, Dominick will spend his life asking customers if they’d like fries with that. And if that’s the only plan, kidnapping doesn’t seem like such a bad plan B.

So if Farmington won’t pass him willfully, Dominick will make him do it forcefully. And once he has Farmington’s signature, fame and fortune are within Dominick’s grasp. But while Dominick may have a devious and brilliant mind on the page, in reality he’s more Betty White than Walter White. And before he can write ’the plot thickens,’ Dominick’s plan begins to go horribly wrong. Teaming with Farmington’s jilted mistress and her loose-cannon bounty hunter brother, Dominick finds that if even the best laid plans go awry, then his doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell. And being a great writer won’t matter much if he’s six feet under.


The World Before Us by Aislinn Hunter (Hogarth-March 31st)

Synopsis-In the tradition of A. S. Byatt’s Possession, a hauntingly poignant novel about madness, loss, and the ties that bind our past to our present.

Deep in the woods of northern England, somewhere between a dilapidated estate and an abandoned Victorian asylum, fifteen-year-old Jane Standen lived through a nightmare. She was babysitting a sweet young girl named Lily, and in one fleeting moment, lost her. The little girl was never found, leaving her family and Jane devastated.

Twenty years later, Jane is an archivist at a small London museum that is about to close for lack of funding. As a final research project–an endeavor inspired in part by her painful past–Jane surveys the archives for information related to another missing person: a woman who disappeared over one hundred years ago in the same woods where Lily was lost. As Jane pieces moments in history together, a portrait of a fascinating group of people starts to unfurl. Inexplicably tied to the mysterious disappearance of long ago, Jane finds tender details of their lives at the country estate and in the asylum that are linked to her own heartbroken world, and their story from all those years ago may now help Jane find a way to move on.

In riveting, beautiful prose, The World Before Us explores the powerful notion that history is a closely connected part of us–kept alive by the resonance of our daily choices–reminding us of the possibility that we are less alone than we might think.

Comments are closed