New Fiction for August 2017

“Beast” by Paul Kingsnorth. “Beast” plunges you into the world of Edward Buckmaster, a man alone on an empty moor in the west of England. What he has left behind we don’t yet know. What he faces is an existential battle with himself, the elements, and something he begins to see in the margins of his vision: some creature that is tracking him, the pursuit of which will become an obsession.

“The Blinds” by Adam Sternbergh. Imagine a place populated by criminals–people plucked from their lives, with their memories altered, who’ve been granted new identities and a second chance. Welcome to The Blinds, a dusty town in rural Texas populated by misfits who don’t know if they’ve perpetrated a crime or just witnessed one. What’s clear to them is that if they leave, they will end up dead. For eight years, Sheriff Calvin Cooper has kept an uneasy peace–but after a suicide and a murder in quick succession, the town’s residents revolt.

“Class Mom” by Laurie Gelman. Jen Dixon is not your typical Kansas City kindergarten class mom–or mom in general. Jen already has two college-age daughters by two different (probably) musicians, and it’s her second time around the class mom block with five-year-old Max–this time with a husband and father by her side. Though her best friend and PTA president sees her as the wisest candidate for the job (or oldest), not all of the other parents agree.

“The Clockwork Dynasty” by Daniel H. Wilson. In the rugged landscape of eastern Oregon, a young scientist named June uncovers an exquisite artifact–a three-hundred-year-old mechanical doll whose existence seems to validate her obsession with a harrowing story she was told by her grandfather many years earlier. The mechanical doll, June believes, is proof of a living race of automatons that walk undetected among us to this day. Ingeniously hidden inside the ancient doll is a lost message, addressed to the court of Peter the Great, czar of Russia.

“The Dark Net” by Benjamin Percy. The Dark Net is real. An anonymous and often criminal arena that exists in the secret far reaches of the Web, some use it to manage Bitcoins, pirate movies and music, or traffic in drugs and stolen goods. And now an ancient darkness is gathering there as well. This force is threatening to spread virally into the real world unless it can be stopped by members of a ragtag crew.

“The Grip of It” by Jac Jemc. Touring their prospective suburban home, Julie and James are stopped by a noise. Deep and vibrating, like throat singing. Ancient, husky, and rasping, but underwater. “That’s just the house settling,” the real estate agent assures them with a smile. He is wrong. The move–prompted by James’s penchant for gambling and his general inability to keep his impulses in check–is quick and seamless; both Julie and James are happy to start afresh. But this house, which sits between a lake and a forest, has its own plans for the unsuspecting couple.

“The Half-Drowned King” by Linnea Hartsuyker. “The first installment in a debut trilogy, [this book] tells the … story of the political intrigues, battles, and struggles for power that led to the rise of King Harald the Fair-Haired, first king of Norway, seen through the eyes of the young man who became his most trusted warrior and advisor.

“Holding” by Graham Norton. The remote Irish village of Duneen has known little drama but when human remains are discovered on an old farm, suspected to be that of Tommy Burke–a former lover of two different inhabitants–the village’s dark past begins to unravel. As the frustrated sergeant PJ Collins struggles to solve a genuine case for the first time in his life, he unearths a community’s worth of anger and resentments, secrets and regret.

“Mrs. Fletcher” by Tom Perotta. Eve Fletcher is trying to figure out what comes next. A forty-six-year-old divorcaee whose beloved only child has just left for college, Eve is struggling to adjust to her empty nest when one night her phone lights up with a text message. Sent from an anonymous number, the mysterious sender tells Eve, ‘U R my MILF!’ Over the months that follow, that message comes to obsess Eve.

“New People” by Danzy Senna. As the twentieth century draws to a close, Maria is at the start of a life she never thought possible. She and Khalil, her college sweetheart, are planning their wedding. They are the perfect couple. They live together in a black bohemian enclave in Brooklyn, where Khalil is riding the wave of the first dot-com boom and Maria is plugging away at her dissertation, on the Jonestown massacre. Everything Maria knows she should want lies before her–yet she can’t stop daydreaming about another man, a poet she barely knows.

“Noumenon” by Marina J. Lostetter. In 2088, humankind is at last ready to explore beyond Earth’s solar system. But one uncertainty remains: Where do we go? Astrophysicist Reggie Straifer has an idea. He’s discovered an anomalous star that appears to defy the laws of physics, and proposes the creation of a deep-space mission to find out whether the star is a weird natural phenomenon, or something manufactured. The journey will take eons. In order to maintain the genetic talent of the original crew, humankind’s greatest ambition–to explore the furthest reaches of the galaxy– is undertaken by clones.

“On Her Majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service” by Rhys Bowen. When Darcy runs off on another secret assignment, I am left to figure out how to travel to Italy sans maid and chaperone to help my dear friend Belinda, as she awaits the birth of her baby alone. An opportunity presents itself in a most unexpected way–my cousin the queen is in need of a spy to attend a house party in the Italian lake country. The Prince of Wales and the dreadful Mrs. Simpson have been invited, and Her Majesty is anxious to thwart a possible secret wedding.

“One Summer Day in Rome” by Mark Lamprell. Alice, an art student in New York City, has come to Rome in search of adventure and inspiration before settling down with her steady, safe fiance. Meg and Alec, busy parents and successful business people from LA, are on a mission to find the holy grail, a certain blue tile that will make their home renovation complete–but soon it becomes clear that their marriage needs a makeover as well.

“The Readymade Thief” by Augustus Rose. Lee Cuddy is 17 years old and on the run, alone on the streets of Philadelphia. After taking the fall for a rich friend, Lee reluctantly accepts refuge in the Crystal Castle–a cooperative of homeless kids squatting in an austere, derelict building. But homeless kids are disappearing from the streets of Philadelphia in suspicious numbers, and Lee quickly discovers that the secret society’s charitable facade is too good to be true

“See What I Have Done” by Sarah Schmidt. Praised by Paula Hawkins as the “next great thriller” ( Town & Country ), Sarah Schmidt’s debut is a masterful reimagining of the infamous Lizzie Borden story and an unsettling portrait of a troubled family. The brutal ax-murder of Andrew and Abby Borden in their home in Fall River, Massachusetts, leaves little evidence and many unanswered questions. While neighbors struggle to understand why anyone would want to harm the respected Bordens, those close to the family have a different tale to tell–of a father with an explosive temper; a spiteful stepmother; and two spinster sisters, with a bond even stronger than blood, desperate for their independence.

“The Wendy Project” by Melissa Jane Osborne. A graphic novel.16-year-old Wendy Davies crashes her car into a lake on a late summer night in New England with her two younger brothers in the backseat. When she wakes in the hospital, she is told that her youngest brother, Michael, is dead. Wendy — a once rational teenager – shocks her family by insisting that Michael is alive and in the custody of a mysterious flying boy. Placed in a new school, Wendy negotiates fantasy and reality as students and adults around her resemble characters from Neverland.

“Yesterday” by Felicia Yap. Imagine a world in which classes are divided not by wealth or religion but by how much each group can remember. Monos, the majority, have only one day’s worth of memory; elite Duos have two. In this stratified society, where Monos are excluded from holding high office and demanding jobs, Claire and Mark are a rare mixed marriage. Clare is a conscientious Mono housewife, Mark a novelist-turned-politician Duo on the rise. They are a shining example of a new vision of tolerance and equality-until…

“The Duchess” by Danielle Steel. Angaelique Latham has grown up at magnificent Belgrave Castle under the loving tutelage of her father, the Duke of Westerfield, after the death of her aristocratic French mother. But when he dies, her half-brothers brutally turn her out, denying her very existence. Unable to secure employment without references or connections, Angaelique desperately makes her way to Paris, where she rescues a young woman fleeing an abusive madam, and suddenly sees a possibility: open an elegant house of pleasure that will protect its women and serve only the best clients.

“Murder Games” by James Patterson. Searching for a serial killer who leaves playing cards at the scenes of his crimes, police officer Elizabeth Needham teams up with brilliant professor Dylan Reinhart, whose book has been connected to the murders. As tabloid headlines about the killer known as “The Dealer” scream from newstands, New York City descends into panic. With the cops at a loss, it’s up to Dylan to hunt down a serial killer unlike any the city has ever seen. Only someone with Dylan’s expertise can hope to go inside the mind of a criminal and convince The Dealer to lay down his cards. But after thinking like a criminal–could Dylan become one?

“The End of Men” by Karen Rinaldi. Isabel, Anna, Beth, and Maggie are women who aren’t afraid to take it all. Whether spearheading a pregnancy lingerie company, conspiring to return a husband to his ex-wife, lusting after an old lover while in a satisfying marriage, or trying to balance motherhood and work–they are sexy, determined, and not looking for a simple happily ever after. Through punchy, hilarious, and insightful storytelling, “The End of Men” shatters the confines of society, and more importantly, those we impose upon ourselves.

“Less Than a Treason” by Dana Stabenow. Kate Shugak is a native Aleut working as a private investigator in Alaska. She’s 5’1″ tall, carries a scar that runs from ear to ear across her throat, and owns a half-wolf, half-husky dog named Mutt. Resourceful, strong-willed, defiant, Kate is tougher than your average heroine and she needs to be, to survive the worst the Alaskan wilds can throw at her. And throw their worst the wilds have: Kate and Mutt have both been shot.

“Dead Man’s Bridge” by Robert J. Mrazek. For fans of Linwood Barclay, this exhilarating series debut by award-winning author Robert Mrazek features former Army officer Jake Cantrell as he tries to bring justice to a small college town in upstate New York.

“Drinks with Dead Poets: A Season of Poe, Whitman, Byron, and the Brontes” by Glyn Maxwell. A spirited homage to the departed literary greats–set in an entrancing English village–this novel tells the tale of a profound autumn term with Poe, Yeats, Whitman, Dickinson, and the

“Hollywood Homicide” by Kellye Garrett. Dayna Anderson doesn’t set out to solve a murder. All the semifamous, mega-broke actress wants is to help her parents keep their house. So after witnessing a deadly hit-and-run, she pursues the fifteen grand reward. But Dayna soon finds herself doing a full-on investigation, wanting more than just money–she wants justice for the victim. She chases down leads at paparazzi hot spots, celeb homes, and movie premieres, loving every second of it–until someone tries to kill her. And there are no second takes in real life.

“The Mapmaker’s Daughter” by Katherine Nouri Hughes. “The Mapmaker’s Daughter,” a historical novel set in the 16th century, is the confession of Nurbanu, born Cecilia Baffo Veniero – the mesmerizing, illegitimate Venetian who became the most powerful woman in the Ottoman Empire at the height of its power under Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent–the bold backstory of the Netflix Series, “Magnificent Century.”

“The Misfortune of Marion Palm” by Emily Culliton. A debut about a Brooklyn Heights wife and mother who has embezzled a small fortune from her children’s private school and makes a run for it, leaving behind her trust fund poet husband, his maybe-secret lover, her two daughters, and a school board who will do anything to find her.

“The Day of the Duchess” by Sarah MacLean. Malcolm Bevingstoke, Duke of Haven, has lived the last three years in self-imposed solitude, paying the price for a mistake he can never reverse and a love he lost forever. The dukedom does not wait, however, and Haven requires an heir, which means he must find himself a wife by summer’s end. There is only one problem–he already has one.

“Forever and a Death” by Donald E. Westlake. Two decades ago, the producers of the James Bond movies hired legendary crime novelist Donald E. Westlake to come up with a story for the next Bond film. The plot Westlake dreamed up–about a Western businessman seeking revenge after being kicked out of Hong Kong when the island was returned to Chinese rule–had all the elements of a classic Bond adventure, but political concerns kept it from being made.

“A House Among the Trees” by Julia Glass. When the revered children’s book author Mort Lear dies accidentally at his Connecticut home, he leaves his property and all its contents to his trusted assistant, Tomasina Daulair, who is moved by his generosity but dismayed by the complicated and defiant directives in his will. Now Tommy must try to honor Morty’s last wishes while grappling with their effects on several people, including Dani Daulair, her estranged brother; Meredith Galarza, the lonely, outraged museum curator to whom Lear once promised his artistic estate; and Nicholas Greene, the beguiling British actor cast to play Mort Lear in a movie

“Good Karma” by Christina Kelly. In the tradition of Mary Kay Andrews and Dorothea Benton Frank, a charming and heartfelt tale of love lost and regained in a gated community in Savannah, Georgia.

“Boundless” by Jillian Tamaki. Jillian Tamaki brings her combined characteristic realism and humor to her first collection of short stories. “Boundless” explores the lives of women and how the expectations of others influence their real and virtual selves. Mixing objective reality, speculative fiction, out-and-out fantasy, and a matter-of-fact feminism, Tamaki shows herself to be a short story talent equal to her peers Adrian Tomine and Eleanor Davis

“The Affair of Lady Westcott’s Lost Ruby / The Case of the Unseen Assassin” by Gary Lovisi. Meet Inspector Alec MacDonald–Mac, to his friends–an up-and-coming policeman from Scotland Yard. Unlike Inspector Lestrade, MacDonald is happy to work with Sherlock Holmes.

“No One Is Coming to Save Us” by Stephanie Powell Watts. J.J. Ferguson has returned home to Pinewood, North Carolina, to build his dream house and to pursue his high school sweetheart Ava. But as he reenters his former world, where factories are in decline and the legacy of Jim Crow is still felt, he’s startled to find that the people he once knew and loved have changed just as much as he has.

“Sonora” by Hannah Lillith Assadi. Ahlam, the daughter of a Palestinian refugee and his Israeli wife, grows up in the arid lands of desert suburbia outside of Phoenix. In a stark landscape where coyotes prowl and mysterious lights occasionally pass through the nighttime sky, Ahlam’s imagination reigns. She battles chronic fever dreams and isolation. When she meets her tempestuous counterpart Laura, the two fall into infatuated partnership, experimenting with drugs and sex, and watching helplessly as a series of mysterious deaths claim high school classmates.

“Celine” by Peter Heller. Audiobook read by Kimberley Farr. Working out of her jewel box of an apartment at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge, Celine has made a career of tracking down missing persons, and she has a better record at it than the FBI. But when a young woman, Gabriela, asks for her help, a world of mystery and sorrow opens up.

“The Abominable Mr. Seabrook” by Joe Ollmann. In the early twentieth century, travel writing represented the desire for the expanding bourgeoisie to experience the exotic cultures of the world past their immediate surroundings. Journalist William Buehler Seabrook was emblematic of this trend–participating in voodoo ceremonies, riding camels cross the Sahara desert, communing with cannibals and most notably, popularizing the term “zombie” in the West.

This is just a sampling of new books now available from any of the four branches of Josephine Community Libraries, thanks to funding from the Carpenter Foundation, the Meyer Memorial Trust, Grants Pass Friends of the Library, and donors like you and your neighbors.