January 2016 Must Reads in Mystery, Suspense, and Fiction

Here are the  books that I’m especially looking forward to in Mystery, Suspense, and Fiction for January. Lots of great books this month!  Enjoy (all synopsis are from B&N or Amazon)!



Silver Bullets by Elmer Mendoza (MacLehose Press-Jan. 5th)

Synopsis-It’s just another day at the office for Detective Edgar “Lefty” Mendieta: abandoned by the woman he loves, demoralized by his city’s (nad his nation’s) ubiquitous corruption, and in dire need of some psychotherapy. Against this backdrop, he catches the case of Bruno Canizales, a high-powered lawyer with a double life, who was killed by a single silver bullet.

Throwing himself into his work, Mendieta begins to piece together the details of Canizales’ life. The son of a former government minister, and the lover of a drug lord’s daughter, Canizales it seems had a penchant for cross-dressing and edgy sex.

In the sweltering city of Culiacán, Mexico’s capital of narco-crime, Mendieta scrambles to follow several leads. His dogged pursuit of the killer takes him from glitzy mansions to drug dens, from down-at-the-heels reporters to glamorous transsexuals. When a second, apparently related murder surfaces, Mendieta discovers that his desire to unearth the truth has become as overpowering as any drug.



The First Order by Jeff Abbott (Grand Central Publishing-Jan. 5th)

Synopsis-Sam Capra is on a one-man mission to find his brother . . .
And to stop a war.

THE FIRST ORDER
Two brothers. One dead, executed by extremists on a grainy video. The other forged into a top undercover agent. But now, Sam Capra has reason to believe that his brother, Danny, may be alive. And if Danny has been living a secret life these past years, where has he been–and what has he become?

Sam’s desperate search for his brother leads him into a modern heart of darkness: the Russian elite inner circle, a group of ruthless ex-KGB billionaires who owe fealty to Russia’s corrupt president, Morozov. One of these men wants Morozov dead. And Danny will be the one to kill him–on American soil.

To save his brother–and to save the world from certain war–Sam, along with his mysterious partner, Mila, must stop Danny from killing Morozov. The mission will take Sam from the slums of Pakistan to the hipster galleries of Brooklyn to the Caribbean playgrounds of the superrich. And as Sam untangles the secret past locked in his brother’s heart, he may be forced to make a choice between his brother–and the greater good . . .



House of Eight Orchids by James Thayer (Thomas & Mercer-Jan. 5th)

Synopsis-In 1912, John Wade and his brother, William—children of the American consul—were kidnapped off the street in Chungking, China, and raised in the house of Eunuch Chang, the city’s master criminal. Twenty-five years later, John is the eunuch’s most valuable ward, a trained assassin and swindler, and William has become a talented forger. On the brink of World War II, China is in chaos. When William betrays Eunuch Chang and escapes to central China, a place of ferocious warlords and bandits, John begins a desperate search to save his brother, while Eunuch Chang hunts them both.



Breaker by Richard Thomas (Alibi-Jan. 5th)

Synopsis-Living alone in the dusty apartment where he grew up, Ray Nelson is a mystery to his neighbors and an unbeatable foe to the brutal men he fights in the ring for money. But a life defined by sinister secrets doesn’t stop Ray from trying to do the right thing for his dangerously high-flying sister. Or for Natalie, the young girl living next door. As a sadistic murderer’s ominous white van trolls for young victims throughout the Windy City, Ray is determined to protect Natalie from both predators and a bleak future.

When she sees a bruised and beaten Ray return from late-night fights, Natalie spots a kindred spirit. Still, she cannot imagine the darkness just beneath, or what’s hidden in the rooms he calls home. Now, as the horrors of his own past creep back to life with a twisted vengeance, Ray may not even be able to save himself.



A Thousand Falling Crows by Larry D. Sweazy (Seventh Street Books-Jan. 5th)

Synopsis-Sonny Burton was forced to retire from the Texas Rangers after taking a bullet from Bonnie Parker in a shoot-out. The bullet so damaged Sonny’s right arm that he had to have it amputated.

While Sonny struggles with recuperating and tries to get used to the idea of living a life with only one arm, Aldo Hernandez, the hospital’s janitor, asks Sonny to help find his daughter and bring her back home. She has got herself mixed up with a couple of brothers involved in a string of robberies. Sonny agrees to help, but is more concerned about a wholly different criminal in town who has taken to killing young women and leaving them in local fields for crows to feast on.

Just as Sonny is able to track down Aldo’s daughter, he comes to an uncomfortable realization about who might be responsible for the string of murders and races to nab the killer before another girl is left to the crows.



The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian (Doubleday-Jan. 5th)

Synopsis-When Kristin Chapman agrees to let her husband, Richard, host his brother’s bachelor party, she expects a certain amount of debauchery. She brings their young daughter to Manhattan for the evening, leaving her Westchester home to the men and their hired entertainment. What she does not expect is this: bacchanalian drunkenness, her husband sharing a dangerously intimate moment in the guest room, and two women stabbing and killing their Russian bodyguards before driving off into the night.

In the aftermath, Kristin and Richard’s life rapidly spirals into nightmare. The police throw them out of their home, now a crime scene, Richard’s investment banking firm puts him on indefinite leave, and Kristin is unsure if she can forgive her husband for the moment he shared with a dark-haired girl in the guest room. But the dark-haired girl, Alexandra, faces a much graver danger. In one breathless, violent night, she is free, running to escape the police who will arrest her and the gangsters who will kill her in a heartbeat. A captivating, chilling story about shame and scandal, The Guest Room is a riveting novel from one of our greatest storytellers.



The Drifter by Nicholas Petrie (G.P. Putnam’s Sons-Jan. 12th)

Synopsis-Peter Ash came home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with only one souvenir: what he calls his “white static,” the buzzing claustrophobia due to post-traumatic stress that has driven him to spend a year roaming in nature, sleeping under the stars. But when a friend from the Marines commits suicide, Ash returns to civilization to help the man’s widow with some home repairs. Under her dilapidated porch, he finds more than he bargained for: the largest, ugliest, meanest dog he’s ever encountered . . . and a Samsonite suitcase stuffed with cash and explosives. As Ash begins to investigate this unexpected discovery, he finds himself at the center of a plot that is far larger than he could have imagined . . . and it may lead straight back to the world he thought he’d left for good. Suspenseful and thrilling, and featuring a compelling new hero, The Drifter is an exciting debut from a fresh voice in crime fiction.



After the Crash by Michel Bussi (Hachette-Jan. 5th)

Synopsis-A night flight from Istanbul bound for Paris, filled with 169 holiday travelers, plummets into the Swiss Alps. The sole survivor is a three-month-old girl–thrown from the plane onto the snowy mountainside before fire rages through the aircraft. But two infants were on board. Is the miracle baby Lyse-Rose or Emilie? Both families step forward to claim the child–one poor, one powerful, wealthy, and dangerous.



Once a Crooked Man by David McCallum (Minotaur-Jan. 12th)

Synopsis-Crime pays. And pays well.

Sal, Max and Enzo Bruschetti have proved this over a lifetime of nefarious activity that they have kept hidden from law enforcement. Nowhere in any file, on any computer is there a record of anything illegal from which they have profited. But Max has a problem. His body is getting old and his doctor has told him to take it easy. Max has decided that the time has come for the family to retire.

But when young actor Harry Murphy overhears the Bruschetti brothers planning changes to their organization, including the murder of a man in London who knows t0o much, the Bruschetti’s plans begin to unravel.

After Harry makes the well-intentioned if egregious mistake of trying to warn the Bruchetti’s intended victim he finds himself alone in a foreign country, on the wrong side of the law, with a suitcase full of cash and a dangerous man on his trail. And while his good looks, charm and cheerful persistence may prove assets in the turbulent events that follow, none of Harry’s past roles have prepared him for what happens next.

A turns tense and funny, Once a Crooked Man is infused with the infectious charm that has made David McCallum one of television’s longest running, most-beloved stars.



Hunters in the Dark by Lawrence Osborne (Hogarth-Jan. 12th)

Synopsis-Adrift in Cambodia and eager to side-step a life of quiet desperation as a small-town teacher, 28-year-old Englishman Robert Grieve decides to go missing. As he crosses the border from Thailand, he tests the threshold of a new future.

And on that first night, a small windfall precipitates a chain of events– involving a bag of “jinxed” money, a suave American, a trunk full of heroin, a hustler taxi driver, and a rich doctor’s daughter– that changes Robert’s life forever.

Hunters in the Dark is a sophisticated game of cat and mouse redolent of the nightmares of Patricia Highsmith, where identities are blurred, greed trumps kindness, and karma is ruthless. Filled with Hitchcockian twists and turns, suffused with the steamy heat and pervasive superstition of the Cambodian jungle, and unafraid to confront difficult questions about the machinations of fate, this is a masterful novel that confirms Lawrence Osborne’s reputation as one of our finest contemporary writers.



Beside Myself by Ann Morgan (Bloomsbury-Jan. 12th)

Synopsis-Six-year-old Helen and Ellie are identical twins, but Helen is smarter, more popular, and their mother’s favorite. Ellie, on the other hand, requires special instruction at school, is friendless, and is punished at every turn.

Until they decide to swap places–just for fun, and just for one day–and Ellie refuses to switch back. Everything of Helen’s, from her toys to her friends to her identity, now belongs to her sister. With those around her oblivious to her plight, the girl who used to be Helen loses her sense of self and withdraws into a spiral of behavioral problems, delinquency, and mental illness. In time, she’s not even sure of her memory of the switch.



Orchard Grove by Vincent Zandri (Polis-Jan. 12th)

Synopsis-Something improved for me when Lana Cattivo moved in next door. I guess you’d have to call it something else, desire, since lust wasn’t entirely accurate. But then, neither was love. Not by a long shot.

From Thriller and Shamus Award winner Vincent Zandri comes a thriller that shows danger doesn’t need to find you – because it’s already right next door.

Sometimes fences make for nice neighbors. Other times they hide the evil within. Orchard Grove is a town like any other, with quiet neighborhoods and apple groves . . . though Ethan, the depressed screenplay writer, and his secretive wife, Susan, would tell you differently. So would the seductive serial killer living next door.

The apple trees are fertilized with evil, and the backyard fences aren’t enough to stop the manipulative mind games and dangerous lies. The lines between good and evil are blurred, and then erased, as Ethan does what it takes to survive. Orchard Grove is a thriller from a writer lauded as one of the very best working today, that will keep you turning pages long into the night.



Where It Hurts by Reed Farrel Coleman (G.P. Putnam’s Sons-Jan. 26th)

Synopsis-Gus Murphy thought he had the world all figured out. A retired Suffolk County cop, Gus had everything a man could want: a great marriage, two kids, a nice house, and the rest of his life ahead of him. But when tragedy strikes, his life is thrown into complete disarray. In the course of a single deadly moment, his family is blown apart and he is transformed from a man who believes he understands everything into a man who understands nothing.

Divorced and working as a courtesy van driver for the run-down hotel in which he has a room, Gus has settled into a mindless, soulless routine that barely keeps his grief at arm’s length. But Gus’s comfortable waking trance comes to an end when ex-con Tommy Delcamino asks him for help. Four months earlier, Tommy’s son T.J.’s battered body was discovered in a wooded lot, yet the Suffolk County PD doesn’t seem interested in pursuing the killers. In desperation, Tommy seeks out the only cop he ever trusted—Gus Murphy.

Gus reluctantly agrees to see what he can uncover. As he begins to sweep away the layers of dust that have collected over the case during the intervening months, Gus finds that Tommy was telling the truth. It seems that everyone involved with the late T.J Delcamino—from his best friend, to a gang enforcer, to a mafia capo, and even the police—has something to hide, and all are willing to go to extreme lengths to keep it hidden. It’s a dangerous favor Gus has taken on as he claws his way back to take a place among the living, while searching through the sewers for a killer.



I Am Your Judge by Nele Neuhaus (Minotaur-Jan. 12th)

Synopsis-Police Detective Pia Kirchhoff is about to leave on her long-delayed honeymoon when she receives a phone call. An elderly woman has been shot and killed while walking her dog. A short while later another murder is committed and the modus operandi is eerily similar – a woman is killed by a bullet that smashes through her kitchen window … and in both cases the same weapon fired the shot. Two more murders follow in short order. None of the victims had enemies and no one knows why they were singled out. As fear of the Taunus Sniper grows among the local residents, the pressure rises on Detective Kirchhoff. She and her partner, Oliver von Bodenstein, search for a suspect who appears to murder at will, but as the investigation progresses, the police officers uncover a human tragedy.

I am Your Judge is tightly plotted, and delivers surprise twists at every turn with a story that is ripped from the headlines.



The Crooked House by Cristobel Kent (Sarah Crichton Books-Jan. 12th)

Synopsis-Published in the United Kingdom in 2015, Christobel Kent’s The Crooked House has drawn comparisons to works by the pantheon of British female literary suspense writers–Daphne du Maurier, Agatha Christie, P. D. James, and Kate Atkinson. In this darkly atmospheric psychological thriller, she accomplishes what those celebrated writers do best: she creates an insular world (a single house, a small town) where something sinister has occurred, and subtly inflects each page with the toxic residue of violence.

Much like the unnamed narrator of Rebecca, Alison lives her life under the radar. She has no ties, no home, and she spends her days at a backroom publishing job. Which is how she wants it. Because Alison used to be a teenager named Esme, who lived in a dilapidated house by a bleak estuary with her parents and three siblings. One night, something unspeakable happened in the house, and Alison emerged the only survivor. In order to escape from the horror she witnessed, she moved away from her village, changed her name, and cut herself off from her past.

Only now her boyfriend invites her to a wedding in her old hometown, and she decides that if she’s going to have any chance of overcoming the trauma of what happened, she’ll have to confront it. But soon Alison realizes that that night’s events have left a terrible mark on everyone in the village, and she begins to suspect that they are all somehow implicated in her family’s murder.



Fallen Land by Taylor Brown (St. Martin’s Press-Jan. 12th)

Synopsis-Fallen Land is Taylor Brown’s debut novel set in the final year of the Civil War, as a young couple on horseback flees a dangerous band of marauders who seek a bounty reward. Callum, a seasoned horse thief at fifteen years old, came to America from his native Ireland as an orphan. Ava, her father and brother lost to the war, hides in her crumbling home until Callum determines to rescue her from the bands of hungry soldiers pillaging the land, leaving destruction in their wake. Ava and Callum have only each other in the world and their remarkable horse, Reiver, who carries them through the destruction that is the South. Pursued relentlessly by a murderous slave hunter, tracking dogs, and ruthless ex-partisan rangers, the couple race through a beautiful but ruined land, surviving on food they glean from abandoned farms and the occasional kindness of strangers. In the end, as they intersect with the scorching destruction of Sherman’s March, the couple seek a safe haven where they can make a home and begin to rebuild their lives. Dramatic and thrillingly written with an uncanny eye for glimpses of beauty in a ravaged landscape, Fallen Land is a love story at its core, and an unusually assured first novel by award-winning young author Taylor Brown.



The Case of Lisandre P. by Hélène Grémillon (Penguin-Jan. 12th)

Synopsis-A gripping psychological thriller for fans of The Girl on the Train and The Silent Wife about a wife’s secrets, a husband accused of murder, and a marriage gone terribly wrong

Buenos Aires, 1987. When a beautiful young woman named Lisandra is found dead at the foot of a six-story building, her husband, a psychoanalyst, is immediately arrested for her murder. Convinced of Vittorio’s innocence, one of his patients, Eva Maria, is drawn into the investigation seemingly by chance. As she combs through secret recordings of Vittorio’s therapy sessions in search of the killer—could it be the powerful government figure? the jealous woman? the musician who’s lost his reason to live?—Eva Maria must confront her most painful memories, and some of the darkest moments in Argentinian history.

In breathless prose that captures the desperate spinning of a frantic mind, Hélène Grémillon blurs the lines of past and present, personal and political, reality and paranoia in this daring and compulsively readable novel.



Angels Burning by Tawni O’Dell (Gallery-Jan. 5th)

Synopsis-From the New York Times bestselling author of the Oprah Book Club pick Back Roads comes this fast-paced literary thriller about a small town police chief who’s forced to dig into her own shadowy past as she investigates the murder of a teenage girl.

On the surface, Chief Dove Carnahan is a true trailblazer who would do anything to protect the rural Pennsylvanian countryside where she has lived all fifty of her years. Traditional and proud of her blue-collar sensibilities, Dove is loved by her community. But beneath her badge lies a dark and self-destructive streak, fed by a secret she has kept since she was sixteen.

When a girl is beaten to death, her body tossed down a fiery sinkhole in an abandoned coal town, Dove is faced with solving the worst crime of her law enforcement career. She identifies the girl as a daughter of the Truly family, a notoriously irascible dynasty of rednecks and petty criminals.

During her investigation, the man convicted of killing Dove’s mother years earlier is released from prison. Still proclaiming his innocence, he approaches Dove with a startling accusation and a chilling threat that forces her to face the parallels between her own family’s trauma and that of the Trulys.

With countless accolades to her credit, author Tawni O’Dell writes with the “fearless insights” (The New York Times Book Review) she brought to the page in Back Roads and One of Us. In this new, masterfully told psychological thriller, the past and present collide to reveal the extent some will go to escape their fate, and in turn, the crimes committed to push them back to where they began.



The Winter Girl by Matt Marinovich (Doubleday-Jan. 19th)

Synopsis-A scathing and exhilarating thriller that begins with a husband’s obsession with the seemingly vacant house next door.

It’s wintertime in the Hamptons, where Scott and his wife, Elise, have come to be with her terminally ill father, Victor, to await the inevitable. As weeks turn to months, their daily routine—Elise at the hospital with her father, Scott pretending to work and drinking Victor’s booze—only highlights their growing resentment and dissatisfaction with the usual litany of unhappy marriages: work, love, passion, each other. But then Scott notices something simple, even innocuous. Every night at precisely eleven, the lights in the neighbor’s bedroom turn off. It’s clearly a timer . . .but in the dead of winter with no one else around, there’s something about that light he can’t let go of. So one day while Elise is at the hospital, he breaks in. And he feels a jolt of excitement he hasn’t felt in a long time. Soon, it’s not hard to enlist his wife as a partner in crime and see if they can’t restart the passion.

Their one simple transgression quickly sends husband and wife down a deliriously wicked spiral of bad decisions, infidelities, escalating violence, and absolutely shocking revelations.

Matt Marinovich makes a strong statement with this novel. The Winter Girl is the psychological thriller done to absolute perfection.



Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz (Minotaur-Jan. 19th)

Synopsis-The Nowhere Man is a legendary figure spoken about only in whispers. It’s said that when he’s reached by the truly desperate and deserving, the Nowhere Man can and will do anything to protect and save them.

But he’s no legend.

Evan Smoak is a man with skills, resources, and a personal mission to help those with nowhere else to turn. He’s also a man with a dangerous past. Chosen as a child, he was raised and trained as part of the off-the-books black box Orphan program, designed to create the perfect deniable intelligence assets—i.e. assassins. He was Orphan X. Evan broke with the program, using everything he learned to disappear.

Now, however, someone is on his tail. Someone with similar skills and training. Someone who knows Orphan X. Someone who is getting closer and closer. And will exploit Evan’s weakness—his work as The Nowhere Man—to find him and eliminate him. Grabbing the reader from the very first page, Orphan X is a masterful thriller, the first in Gregg Hurwitz’s electrifying new series featuring Evan Smoak.



A Song for the Brokenhearted by William Shaw (Mulholland-Jan. 19th)

Synopsis-The earthshaking decade of the 1960s comes to a sweeping and dangerous close, as William Shaw’s detective duo battle the most powerful members of London society.

After being wounded in the line of duty, Detective Sergeant Breen recuperates on the family farm of his former partner, Helen Tozer. To fill the long and empty hours, he reviews the open case file for a murder that has haunted Helen for years: that of her younger sister. Breen discovers that the teenage victim had been having a secret affair with James Fletchet, the son of an affluent local landowner, celebrated for his service in Kenya during the Mau Mau Uprising.

Breen and Tozer return to London’s Criminal Investigation Division, where their questions about Fletchet’s past are met with resistance and suspicion. The deeper they probe, the more people they implicate in their investigation. New Scotland Yard doesn’t look kindly upon breaking rank, and it’s only a matter of time before Breen and Tozer make themselves a target.

Shaw’s stirring, heartfelt and diabolically plotted mystery series is everything a reader looks for: enveloping, invigorating, and wonderfully entertaining.



The Blue Line by Ingrid Bettancourt (Penguin Press-Jan. 26th)

Synopsis-Set against the backdrop of Argentina’s Dirty War and infused with magical realism, The Blue Line is a breathtaking story of love and betrayal by one of the world’s most renowned writers and activists. Ingrid Betancourt, author of the New York Times bestselling memoir Even Silence Has an End, draws on history and personal experience in this deeply felt portrait of a woman coming of age as her country falls deeper and deeper into chaos.

Buenos Aires, the 1970s. Julia inherits from her grandmother a gift, precious and burdensome. Sometimes visions appear before her eyes, mysterious and terrible apparitions from the future, seen from the perspective of others. From the age of five, Julia must intervene to prevent horrific events. In fact, as her grandmother tells her, it is her duty to do so—otherwise she will lose her gift.

At fifteen, Julia falls in love with Theo, a handsome revolutionary four years her senior. Their lives are turned upside down when Juan Perón, the former president and military dictator, returns to Argentina. Confronted by the realities of military dictatorship, Julia and Theo become Montoneros sympathizers and radical idealists, equally fascinated by Jesus Christ and Che Guevara. Captured by death squadrons, they somehow manage to escape. . . .

In this remarkable novel, Betancourt, an activist who spent more than six years held hostage by the FARC in the depths of Colombian jungle, returns to many of the themes of Even Silence Has an End. The Blue Line is a story centered on the consequences of oppression, collective subservience, and individual courage, and, most of all, the notion that belief in the future of humanity is an act of faith most beautiful and deserving.



The Last Dawn by Joe Gannon (Minotaur-Jan. 26th)

Synopsis-It is time to die…

1989. It’s been three years since Captain Ajax Montoya cleared the smoke and blood from his last case―and what a three years. The old world order is coming down along with the Berlin Wall, and the Soviet “Evil Empire” is being born to the ash heap of history by its once captive people.

But in a psychiatric hospital in Managua, a near catatonic Ajax missed all that. In 1986, Ajax freed his only remaining friend from a psychotic killer. But his ‘methods’ were such that he was imprisoned in a nut-house for his pains. And for three years his world stood still.

But ghosts don’t know time nor read headlines. So when one of the many phantoms from Ajax’s bloody past shows up, he is rescued from his personal nightmare only to be plunged from one hell into another.

El Salvador in 1989 is in a civil war so vicious, they say even the Grim Reaper needs an escort. But when the parents of Ajax’s old love beg him to go there and save their son―as he did not save their daughter―Ajax is on the next plane.

And he’s not alone. Gladys Darío―the lieutenant whose rescue cost Ajax his freedom and his mind―has been stewing in Miami for three years, and she is ready to back his play, even if it costs her own life.

Now all they have to do is parachute into the hottest war in the Americas and find that one needle of a missing person in a haystack of the disappeared.



Fixers by Michael M. Thomas (Melville House-Jan. 26th)

Synopsis-For anyone who’s wondered why the money men who caused the 2008 banking crisis ended up running U.S. economic policy, a novel that seems too true to be fiction . . .

On a winter’s night in 2007, a well-heeled “cultural consultant” named Chauncey Suydam gets a call from the head of the world’s most powerful investment bank, who says a financial crisis is brewing, but he has a plan to insulate Wall Street from the fallout—and keep people such as himself out of jail.

His mission for Chauncey is simple: to help funnel millions of dollars to a certain presidential candidate preaching hope and change, in exchange for a few Wall Street-friendly names in the resultant administration.

Yet as Chauncey wends his way amongst the nation’s political elite, he sees with greater clarity than ever how decisions really get made—on Wall Street and in Washington. And as the magnitude of the fix he’s perpetrating begins to sink in, he starts to have second thoughts . . . But is it too late?

At once shocking and all too plausible, Fixers is a riveting political thriller by a master observer of finance and politics that—despite being fiction—offers a frighteningly reasonable explanation of what really might have happened in 2008.



Platinum Doll by Anne Gerard (Mira-Jan. 26th)

Synopsis-Set against the dazzling backdrop of Golden Age Hollywood, novelist Anne Girard tells the enchanting story of Jean Harlow, one of the most iconic stars in the history of film

It’s the Roaring Twenties and seventeen-year-old Harlean Carpenter McGrew has run off to Beverly Hills. She’s chasing a dream—to escape her small, Midwestern life and see her name in lights.

In California, Harlean has everything a girl could want—a rich husband, glamorous parties, socialite friends—except an outlet for her talent. But everything changes when a dare pushes her to embrace her true ambition—to be an actress on the silver screen. With her timeless beauty and striking shade of platinum-blond hair, Harlean becomes Jean Harlow. And as she’s thrust into the limelight, Jean learns that this new world of opportunity comes with its own set of burdens. Torn between her family and her passion to perform, Jean is forced to confront the difficult truth—that fame comes at a price, if only she’s willing to pay it.

Amid a glittering cast of ingenues and Hollywood titans—Clara Bow, Clark Gable, Laurel and Hardy, Howard Hughes—Platinum Doll introduces us to the star who would shine brighter than them all.



Girl Through Glass by Sari Wilson (Harper-Jan. 26th)

Synopsis-An enthralling literary debut that tells the story of a young girl’s coming of age in the cutthroat world of New York City ballet—a story of obsession and the quest for perfection, trust and betrayal, beauty and lost innocence.

In the roiling summer of 1977, eleven-year-old Mira is an aspiring ballerina in the romantic, highly competitive world of New York City ballet. Enduring the mess of her parent’s divorce, she finds escape in dance—the rigorous hours of practice, the exquisite beauty, the precision of movement, the obsessive perfectionism. Ballet offers her control, power, and the promise of glory. It also introduces her to forty-seven-year-old Maurice DuPont, a reclusive, charismatic balletomane who becomes her mentor.

Over the course of three years, Mira is accepted into the prestigious School of American Ballet run by the legendary George Balanchine, and eventually becomes one of “Mr. B’s girls”—a dancer of rare talent chosen for greatness. As she ascends higher in the ballet world, her relationship with Maurice intensifies, touching dark places within herself and sparking unexpected desires that will upend both their lives.

In the present day, Kate, a professor of dance at a Midwestern college, embarks on a risky affair with a student that threatens to obliterate her career and capsizes the new life she has painstakingly created for her reinvented self. When she receives a letter from a man she’s long thought dead, Kate is hurled back into the dramas of a past she thought she had left behind.

Told in interweaving narratives that move between past and present, Girl Through Glass illuminates the costs of ambition, secrets, and the desire for beauty, and reveals how the sacrifices we make for an ideal can destroy—or save—us.



Front Lines by Michael Grant (Katherine Tegen Books-Jan. 26th)

Synopsis-Perfect for fans of The Book Thief and Code Name Verity, New York Times bestselling author Michael Grant unleashes an epic, genre-bending, and transformative new series that reimagines World War II with girl soldiers fighting on the front lines.

World War II, 1942. A court decision makes women subject to the draft and eligible for service. The unproven American army is going up against the greatest fighting force ever assembled, the armed forces of Nazi Germany.

Three girls sign up to fight. Rio Richlin, Frangie Marr, and Rainy Schulterman are average girls, girls with dreams and aspirations, at the start of their lives, at the start of their loves. Each has her own reasons for volunteering: Rio fights to honor her sister; Frangie needs money for her family; Rainy wants to kill Germans. For the first time they leave behind their homes and families—to go to war.

These three daring young women will play their parts in the war to defeat evil and save the human race. As the fate of the world hangs in the balance, they will discover the roles that define them on the front lines. They will fight the greatest war the world has ever known.



Shaker by Scott Frank (Katherine Tegen Books-Jan. 26th)

Synopsis-Meet Roy Cooper, stoic, unassuming “errand runner” for various New York criminals. Roy arrives in Los Angeles to shoot a man named Martin Shine a week after a powerful earthquake has knocked out cell service, buckled the freeways, and thrown L.A. into chaos. Roy doesn’t know who Shine is or why he has to die, but he does his job and does it well. Except for one thing: after the hit, Roy can’t find where he parked his car. Wandering the streets of North Hollywood, he stumbles upon a jogger getting mugged and beaten by four young gangbangers. Despite his attempt to simply put his head down and walk away, Roy winds up in the middle of another killing. Things get more complicated when the murdered jogger turns out to be a controversial mayoral candidate. Roy himself is shot twice, hospitalized in critical condition, and mistaken for a hero when a local resident leaks a video that goes viral.

Now meet the rest of the cast of characters, including Kelly Maguire, a disgraced LAPD detective with an anger management problem and strange feelings about L.A.’s newest hero; Science, the teenage gangbanger/shooter, who needs to keep Roy quiet about what he’s seen; Mayor Miguel Santiago, who finds himself facing accusations that he’s just had his opponent whacked; Albert Budin, Roy’s onetime mentor and one of the scariest, creepiest characters in recent crime fiction; and myriad criminals, politicians, and cops who all need Roy to disappear—preferably forever.

Finally, meet Scott Frank, who has created not just one of the most entertaining novels of the year but also one of the most surprising. This first novel is fun and funny as well as moving and textured, nuanced and powerful. Shaker is the debut work of fiction by a major new storyteller.



The Poison Artist by Jonathan Moore (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt-Jan. 26th)

Synopsis-Dr. Caleb Maddox is a San Francisco toxicologist studying the chemical effects of pain. After a bruising breakup with his girlfriend, he is drinking whiskey at the speakeasy House of Shields when a hauntingly seductive woman appears by his side. Emmeline whispers to Caleb over absinthe, gets his blood on her fingers, and then brushes his ear with her lips as she says goodbye. He must find her.

As his search begins, Caleb becomes entangled in a serial murder investigation. The police are fishing men from the bay, and the postmortems are inconclusive. One man vanished from House of Shields the night Caleb met Emmeline. When questioned, Caleb can’t offer any information. But he is secretly helping the city’s medical examiner, an old friend, understand the chemical evidence on the victims’ remains. Caleb’s search for the killer soon entwines with his hunt for Emmeline, and the closer he gets to each, the more dangerous his world becomes.

The Poison Artist is a gripping literary thriller about obsession and damage, about a man unmoored by an unspeakable past and an irresistible woman who offers the ultimate escape.

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