New Fiction Books: December 2017

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General Fiction



In the Fall They Come Back by  Robert Bausch

in the fall they come backA brilliantly observed prep school novel about fraught teacher-student relationships–and about coming into adulthood.

Ben Jameson begins his teaching career in a small private school in Northern Virginia. He is idealistic, happy to have his first job after graduate school, and hoping some day to figure out what he really wants out of life. And in his two years teaching English at Glenn Acres Preparatory School, he comes to believe this really is his life’s work, his calling. He wants to change lives.

But his desire to “save” his students leads him into complicated territory, as he becomes more and more deeply involved with three students in particular: an abused boy, a mute and damaged girl, and a dangerous eighteen-year-old who has come back to school for one more chance to graduate.

In the Fall They Come Back is a book about human relationships, as played out in that most fraught of settings, a school. But it is not only a book about teaching. It is about the limits and complexities of even our most benevolent urges–what we can give to others and how we lose ourselves.

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The Ice House by  Laura Lee Smith

Ice HouseFrom a writer who’s been praised for her “intelligence, heart, wit” (Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Empire Falls), The Ice House follows the beleaguered MacKinnons as they weather the possible loss of the family business, a serious medical diagnosis, and the slings and arrows of familial discord.

Johnny MacKinnon might be on the verge of losing it all. The ice factory he married into, which he’s run for decades, is facing devastating OSHA fines following a mysterious accident and may have to close. The only hope for Johnny’s livelihood is that someone in the community saw something, but no one seems to be coming forward. He hasn’t spoken to his son Corran back in Scotland since Corran’s heroin addiction finally drove Johnny to the breaking point. And now, after a collapse on the factory floor, it appears Johnny may have a brain tumor. Johnny’s been ordered to take it easy, but in some ways, he thinks, what’s left to lose? This may be his last chance to bridge the gap with Corran–and to have any sort of relationship with the baby granddaughter he’s never met.

Witty and heartbreaking by turns, The Ice House is a vibrant portrait of multifaceted, exquisitely human characters that readers will not soon forget. It firmly establishes Laura Lee Smith as a gifted voice in American fiction.

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Three Daughters of Eve by  Elif Shafak

three daughters of eveThe stunning, timely new novel from the acclaimed, internationally bestselling author of The Architect’s Apprentice and The Bastard of Istanbul.

Peri, a married, wealthy, beautiful Turkish woman, is on her way to a dinner party at a seaside mansion in Istanbul when a beggar snatches her handbag. As she wrestles to get it back, a photograph falls to the ground — an old polaroid of three young women and their university professor. A relic from a past — and a love — Peri had tried desperately to forget.

Three Daughters of Eve is set over an evening in contemporary Istanbul, as Peri arrives at the party and navigates the tensions that simmer in this crossroads country between East and West, religious and secular, rich and poor. Over the course of the dinner, and amidst an opulence that is surely ill-begotten, terrorist attacks occur across the city. Competing in Peri’s mind however are the memories invoked by her almost-lost polaroid, of the time years earlier when she was sent abroad for the first time, to attend Oxford University. As a young woman there, she had become friends with the charming, adventurous Shirin, a fully assimilated Iranian girl, and Mona, a devout Egyptian-American. Their arguments about Islam and feminism find focus in the charismatic but controversial Professor Azur, who teaches divinity, but in unorthodox ways. As the terrorist attacks come ever closer, Peri is moved to recall the scandal that tore them all apart.

Elif Shafak is the number one bestselling novelist in her native Turkey, and her work is translated and celebrated around the world. In Three Daughters of Eve, she has given us a rich and moving story that humanizes and personalizes one of the most profound sea changes of the modern world.

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Historical Fiction



Enchantress of Numbers by  Jennifer Chiaverini

enchantress of numbersThe only legitimate child of Lord Byron, the most brilliant, revered, and scandalous of the Romantic poets, Ada was destined for fame long before her birth. Estranged from Ada’s father, who was infamously “mad, bad, and dangerous to know,” Ada’s mathematician mother is determined to save her only child from her perilous Byron heritage. Banishing fairy tales and make-believe from the nursery, Ada’s mother provides her daughter with a rigorous education grounded in mathematics and science. Any troubling spark of imagination—or worse yet, passion or poetry—is promptly extinguished. Or so her mother believes.

When Ada is introduced into London society as a highly eligible young heiress, she at last discovers the intellectual and social circles she has craved all her life. Little does she realize that her delightful new friendship with inventor Charles Babbage—brilliant, charming, and occasionally curmudgeonly—will shape her destiny. Intrigued by the prototype of his first calculating machine, the Difference Engine, and enthralled by the plans for his even more advanced Analytical Engine, Ada resolves to help Babbage realize his extraordinary vision, unique in her understanding of how his invention could transform the world. All the while, she passionately studies mathematics—ignoring skeptics who consider it an unusual, even unhealthy pursuit for a woman—falls in love, discovers the shocking secrets behind her parents’ estrangement, and comes to terms with the unquenchable fire of her imagination.

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Silk and Song by  Dana Stebenow

silk and songBeijing, 1322.

Sixteen-year-old Wu Johanna is the granddaughter of the legendary trader Marco Polo. In the wake of her father’s death, however, Johanna finds that lineage counts for little amid the disintegrating court of the Khan. Dynastic loyalties are shifting, petty jealousies lead to cold-blooded murders, and the long knives are coming out. Johanna’s destiny – if she has one – lies with her grandfather, in Venice, at the very edge of the known world.

So, with a small band of companions, she takes to the Road – the Silk Road – that storied collection of routes that link the silks of Cathay, the spices of the Indies and the jewels of the Indus to the markets of the west. But first she must cross the roof of the world, survive treachery, betrayal, and a Road beset by thieves, fanatics and warlords emboldened by the deterioration of the once all-powerful Mongol Empire.

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Mystery



The Wanted by  Robert Crais

wantedIt seemed like a simple case before the bodies starting piling up. Investigator Elvis Cole and his partner, Joe Pike, take on the deadliest case of their lives, in the new masterpiece of suspense from the #1 New York Times bestselling author.

When single mother Devon Connor hires private investigator Elvis Cole, it’s because her troubled teenage son Tyson is flashing cash and she’s afraid he’s dealing drugs. But the truth is devastatingly different. With two other partners in crime, he’s been responsible for a string of high-end burglaries, a crime spree that takes a deadly turn when one of them is murdered and Tyson and his girlfriend disappear.

They stole the wrong thing from the wrong man. Determined to get it back, he has hired a team that is smart and brutal, and to even the odds, Cole calls in his friends Joe Pike and Jon Stone. But even they may be overmatched. The hired killers are leaving a trail of bodies in their wake. A few more won’t make any difference.

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Bloodstains with Brontë by  Katherine Bolger Hyde

bloodstains with bronteClassic novels and crime solving intertwine in Katherine Bolger Hyde’s charming series. Bloodstains with Bronte is the second in a series that will puzzle and please fans of mystery and masterpieces alike.

It’s a dark and stormy autumn on the Oregon coast. Windy Corner, the Victorian mansion Emily Cavanaugh inherited in Arsenic with Austen, is being remodeled into a writers’ retreat. Two of the young workers, Jake and Roman, are showing too much of the wrong kind of interest in Katie, Emily’s young single-mother housekeeper. Their boss, Jeremiah, is a disturbing presence in a different way with his obsessive, tormented piety. Soon the passions in the house grow as dark and stormy as the weather, and Emily begins to feel as if she’s living in a Brontë novel.

Meanwhile, to raise money for the local clinic, Emily and Katie host a murder mystery dinner on Halloween night. All goes well until the supposed corpse turns up actually dead—with Katie standing over him, a bloody knife in her hand.

Luke Richards, local sheriff and Emily’s true love, is forced to regard Katie as a suspect, but Emily refuses to accept the situation. Her loyalty to Katie crashes against her duty to Luke and to the truth as she fights to save Katie from a murder charge.

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The Vanishing Season by  Joanna Schaffhausen

vanishing seasonEllery Hathaway knows a thing or two about serial killers, but not through her police training. She’s an officer in sleepy Woodbury, MA, where a bicycle theft still makes the newspapers. No one there knows she was once victim number seventeen in the grisly story of serial killer Francis Michael Coben. The only victim who lived.

When three people disappear from her town in three years, all around her birthday—the day she was kidnapped so long ago—Ellery fears someone knows her secret. Someone very dangerous. Her superiors dismiss her concerns, but Ellery knows the vanishing season is coming and anyone could be next. She contacts the one man she knows will believe her: the FBI agent who saved her from a killer’s closet all those years ago.

Agent Reed Markham made his name and fame on the back of the Coben case, but his fortunes have since turned. His marriage is in shambles, his bosses think he’s washed up, and worst of all, he blew a major investigation. When Ellery calls him, he can’t help but wonder: sure, he rescued her, but was she ever truly saved? His greatest triumph is Ellery’s waking nightmare, and now both of them are about to be sucked into the past, back to the case that made them…with a killer who can’t let go.

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Suspense



Pen 33 by  Anders Roslund & Borge Hellström

pen 33Bernt Lund harbors a sickness. He is a monster, an unrepentant child molester and serial killer. In the mind of society, in the minds of his nine-year-old victims’ parents, and in the minds of his fellow inmates, he is a waking nightmare. And now he has escaped from custody–the worst scenario imaginable for Aspsås Prison’s Department for Sexual Crimes.

Detective Superintendent Ewert Grens is about to encounter the most profoundly appalling case in his career, and perhaps in Stockholm’s history. During the course of one long, hot summer, Sweden will face an explosive series of events that spread across the country like wildfire, events that call into question the very nature of humanity, duty, forgiveness, and self-defense. And justice.

Pen 33 is an unflinching exploration of what people–both criminals and victims–are capable of when they relinquish self-control.

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Death at Nuremberg by  W.E.B. Griffin

death at nurembergAssigned to the Nuremberg war trials, special agent James Cronley, Jr., finds himself fighting several wars at once, in the dramatic new Clandestine Operations novel about the birth of the Central Intelligence Agency and the Cold War.

When Jim Cronley hears he’s just won the Legion of Merit, he figures there’s another shoe to drop, and it’s a big one: he’s out as Chief, DCI-Europe. His new assignments, however, couldn’t be bigger: to protect the U.S. chief prosecutor in the Nuremberg trials from a rumored Soviet NKGB kidnapping, and to hunt down and dismantle the infamous Odessa, an organization dedicated to helping Nazi war criminals escape to South America.

It doesn’t take long for the first attempt on his life, and then the second. NKGB or Odessa? Who can tell? The deeper he pushes, the more secrets tumble out: a scheme to swap Nazi gold for currency, a religious cult organized around Himmler himself, an NKGB agent who is actually working for the Mossad, a German cousin who turns out to be more malevolent than he appears–and a distractingly attractive newspaperwoman who seems to be asking an awful lot of questions.

Which one will turn out to be the most dangerous? Cronley wishes he knew.

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The Demon Crown by  James Rollins

demon crownOff the coast of Brazil, a team of scientists discovers a horror like no other, an island where all life has been eradicated, consumed and possessed by a species beyond imagination. Before they can report their discovery, a mysterious agency attacks the group, killing them all, save one, an entomologist, an expert on venomous creatures, Professor Ken Matsui from Cornell University.

Strangest of all, this inexplicable threat traces back to a terrifying secret buried a century ago beneath the National Mall: a cache of bones preserved in amber. The artifact was hidden away by a cabal of scientists—led by Alexander Graham Bell—to protect humankind. But they dared not destroy it, for the object also holds an astonishing promise for the future: the very secret of life after death.

Yet, nothing stays buried forever. An ancient horror—dormant in the marrow of those preserved bones—is free once more, nursed and developed into a weapon of incalculable strength and malignancy, ready to wreak havoc on an unsuspecting world.

To stop its spread, Commander Grayson Pierce of Sigma Force must survive a direct attack on the island of Maui. To be there first has always been the core mission of Sigma Force, a covert team forged to be America’s front line against emerging threats. But this time, even Sigma may not be able to decipher this deadly mystery, one that traces back to the founding of the Smithsonian Institution.

With each new discovery, the menace they hunt is changing, growing, spreading—adapting and surviving every attempt to stop it from reconquering a world it once ruled. And each transformation makes it stronger . . . and smarter.

Running out of time and options, Commander Grayson Pierce will be forced to make an impossible choice. To eradicate this extinction-level threat and expose those involved, he will have to join forces with Sigma’s greatest enemy—the newly resurrected Guild—even it if means sacrificing one of his own.

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Romance



Year One by  Nora Roberts

year oneIt began on New Year’s Eve.

The sickness came on suddenly, and spread quickly. The fear spread even faster. Within weeks, everything people counted on began to fail them. The electrical grid sputtered; law and government collapsed—and more than half of the world’s population was decimated.

Where there had been order, there was now chaos. And as the power of science and technology receded, magic rose up in its place. Some of it is good, like the witchcraft worked by Lana Bingham, practicing in the loft apartment she shares with her lover, Max. Some of it is unimaginably evil, and it can lurk anywhere, around a corner, in fetid tunnels beneath the river—or in the ones you know and love the most.

As word spreads that neither the immune nor the gifted are safe from the authorities who patrol the ravaged streets, and with nothing left to count on but each other, Lana and Max make their way out of a wrecked New York City. At the same time, other travelers are heading west too, into a new frontier. Chuck, a tech genius trying to hack his way through a world gone offline. Arlys, a journalist who has lost her audience but uses pen and paper to record the truth. Fred, her young colleague, possessed of burgeoning abilities and an optimism that seems out of place in this bleak landscape. And Rachel and Jonah, a resourceful doctor and a paramedic who fend off despair with their determination to keep a young mother and three infants in their care alive.

In a world of survivors where every stranger encountered could be either a savage or a savior, none of them knows exactly where they are heading, or why. But a purpose awaits them that will shape their lives and the lives of all those who remain.

The end has come. The beginning comes next.

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Darker: Fifty Shades Darker as Told by Christian by  E.L. James

darkerE.L. James revisits the world of Fifty Shades with a deeper and darker take on the love story that has enthralled millions of readers around the globe.

Their scorching, sensual affair ended in heartbreak and recrimination, but Christian Grey cannot get Anastasia Steele out of his mind, or his blood. Determined to win her back, he tries to suppress his darkest desires and his need for complete control, and to love Ana on her own terms.

But the horrors of his childhood still haunt him, and Ana’s scheming boss, Jack Hyde, clearly wants her for himself. Can Christian’s confidant and therapist, Dr. Flynn, help him face down his demons? Or will the possessiveness of Elena, his seducer, and the deranged devotion of Leila, his former submissive, drag Christian down into the past?

And if Christian does win Ana back, can a man so dark and damaged ever hope to keep her?

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The Ladies of Ivy Cottage by  Julie Klassen

ladies of ivy cottageReturn to Ivy Hill in The Ladies of Ivy Cottage as friendships deepen, romances blossom, and mysteries unfold.

Living with the two Miss Groves in Ivy Cottage, impoverished gentlewoman Rachel Ashford is determined to earn her own livelihood . . . somehow. When the village women encourage her to open a subscription library with the many books she has inherited or acquired through donations, Rachel discovers two mysteries hidden among them. A man who once broke her heart helps her search for clues, but will both find more than they bargained for?

Rachel’s friend and hostess, Mercy Grove, has given up thoughts of suitors and fills her days managing her girls’ school. So when several men take an interest in Ivy Cottage, she assumes pretty Miss Ashford is the cause. Exactly what–or who–has captured each man’s attention? The truth may surprise them all.

Meanwhile, life has improved at the coaching inn and Jane Bell is ready to put grief behind her. Now if only the man she misses would return–but where is he?

As the women of Ivy Hill search for answers about the past and hope for the future, might they find love along the way?

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Sci-Fi & Fantasy



The Girl in the Tower by  Katherine Arden

girl in the towerThe magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingale continues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege.

Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.

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