Best New Books: Week of 1/30/2018

Suspense lovers should be very happy this week, as a whole host of exciting thrillers are making their debut. One of the year’s most talked-about books makes its way to the library in The Perfect Nanny, the sort of story that has been earning strong reactions from readers around the world. In addition we have a little bit of romance and historical fiction, and 2 compelling non-fiction entries that shine a light on experiences quite different from our own.



FICTION



The Perfect Nanny by  Leila Slimani

perfect nannyWhen Myriam, a mother and brilliant French-Moroccan lawyer, decides to return to work, she and her husband are forced to look for a caretaker for their two young children. They are thrilled to find Louise: the perfect nanny right from the start. Louise sings to the children, cleans the family’s beautiful apartment in Paris’s upscale tenth arrondissement, stays late whenever asked, and hosts enviable kiddie parties. But as the couple and the nanny become more dependent on each other, jealousy, resentment, and frustrations mount, shattering the idyllic tableau.

Description from Goodreads.

“[A] slim dagger of a novel . . . You won’t move until you reach the last page.” – People

“The first ‘hot’ novel of 2018 . . . Unflinching . . . assured . . . The book aspires toward the taut elegance of that classic nanny nightmare tale, Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw, and, in language and complexity, it comes pretty darn close. . . . Talk about a guilty pleasure.” – The Washington Post

“A slim page-turner, The Perfect Nanny can be read in a single, shivery sitting. . . . A chilling domestic thriller . . . It will make a great film.” – The Economist

“I think this might be one of the most important books of the year. You can’t unread it. . . . If you’ve ever taken care of a kid, even if, just on a bus, someone has handed you a child for five seconds as they rummage through their purse, this will do something to you. . . . At the end of reading this book, I was so devastated, but I really felt like I was looking at the world through new eyes.” – Barrie Hardymon, NPR’s Weekend Edition

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook



HISTORICAL FICTION



The Winter Station by  Jody Shields

winter station1910: people are mysteriously dying at an alarming rate in the Russian-ruled city of Kharbin, a major railway outpost in Northern China. Strangely, some of the dead bodies vanish before they can be identified.

During a dangerously cold winter in a city gripped by fear, the Baron, a wealthy Russian aristocrat and the city’s medical commissioner, is determined to stop this mysterious plague. Battling local customs, an occupying army, and a brutal epidemic with no name, the Baron is torn between duty and compassion, between Western medical science and respect for Chinese tradition. His allies include a French doctor, a black marketeer, and a charismatic Chinese dwarf. His greatest refuge is the intimacy he shares with his young Chinese wife – but she has secrets of her own.

Based on a true story that has been lost to history, set during the last days of imperial Russia, The Winter Station is a richly textured and brilliant novel about mortality, fear and love.

Description from Goodreads.

“Remarkable.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“This fictional portrait of a man caught in a real-life medical crisis proves affecting and timely in its exploration of conflicts between cultures and classes, ambition and mortality, science and politics.” – Publishers Weekly

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook



MYSTERY & SUSPENSE



Into the Black Nowhere by  Meg Gardiner

into the black nowhereIn southern Texas, on Saturday nights, women are disappearing. One vanishes from a movie theater. Another is ripped from her car at a stoplight. Another vanishes from her home while checking on her baby. Rookie FBI agent Caitlin Hendrix, newly assigned to the FBI’s elite Behavioral Analysis Unit, fears that a serial killer is roaming the dark roads outside Austin.

Caitlin and the FBI’s serial crime unit discover the first victim’s body in the woods. She’s laid out in a bloodstained, white baby-doll nightgown. A second victim in a white nightie lies deeper in the forest’s darkness. Both bodies are surrounded by Polaroid photos, stuck in the earth like headstones. Each photo pictures a woman in a white negligee, wrists slashed, suicide-style–posed like Snow White awaiting her prince’s kiss.

To track the UNSUB, Caitlin must get inside his mind. How is he selecting these women? Working with a legendary FBI profiler, Caitlin searches for a homology–that elusive point where character and action come together. She profiles a confident, meticulous killer who convinces his victims to lower their guard until he can overpower and take them in plain sight. He then reduces them to objects in a twisted fantasy–dolls for him to possess, control, and ultimately destroy. Caitlin’s profile leads the FBI to focus on one man: a charismatic, successful professional who easily gains people’s trust. But with only circumstantial evidence linking him to the murders, the police allow him to escape. As Saturday night approaches, Caitlin and the FBI enter a desperate game of cat and mouse, racing to capture the cunning predator before he claims more victims.

Description from Goodreads.

“Gardiner skillfully builds tension as the pace accelerates toward the most dramatic, exhausting, and satisfying ending I’ve read in quite some time. Woman power, y’all.” – Lone Star Literary Life

“Chilling new cases to dive into on a long winter’s night.” – Bookpage

“Robust character study mixed with an engrossing police procedural…Gardiner knows how to push the terrifying envelope…” – The South Florida Sun-Sentinel 

Available Formats:

Print Book


Blood Sisters by  Jane Corry

blood sistersThree little girls set off to school one sunny morning. Within an hour, one of them is dead.

Fifteen years later, Kitty can’t speak and has no memory of the accident that’s to blame. She lives in an institution, unlikely ever to leave. But that doesn’t keep her from being frightened when she encounters an eerily familiar face.

Art teacher Alison looks fine on the surface. But the surface is a lie. She’s struggling to make ends meet and to forget the past. When a teaching job at a prison opens up, she takes it, despite her fears. Maybe this is her chance to set things right. Then she starts to receive alarming notes; next, her classroom erupts in violence.

Meanwhile, someone is watching both Kitty and Alison. Someone who never forgot what happened that day. Someone who wants revenge. And only another life will do. . .

Description from Goodreads.

“Secrets are gradually revealed in a plot that twists to the very end. From the author of My Husband’s Wife, this is nicely sustained psychological suspense.” – Booklist

“Corry ratchets up the tension, systematically unveiling further crimes and hidden agendas with each turn of the screw. Everyone has a secret to hide in this twisty mystery.” – Kirkus Reviews

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook


The Girlfriend by  Michelle Frances

girlfriendLaura has it all. A successful career, a long marriage to a rich husband, and a twenty-three year-old son, Daniel, who is kind, handsome, and talented. Then Daniel meets Cherry. Cherry is young, beautiful and smart but she hasn’t had the same opportunities as Daniel. And she wants Laura’s life.

Cherry comes to the family wide-eyed and wants to be welcomed with open arms, but Laura suspects she’s not all that she seems.

When tragedy strikes, an unforgiveable lie is told. It is an act of desperation, but the fall-out will change their lives forever.

Description from Goodreads.

“…keeps the reader on a knife-edge throughout.” – The Irish Examiner

Available Formats:

Print Book


Perish by  Lisa Black

perishThe scene of the crime is lavish but gruesome. In a luxurious mansion on the outskirts of Cleveland, a woman’s body lies gutted in a pool of blood on the marble floor. The victim is Joanna Moorehouse, founder of Sterling Financial. The killer could be any one of her associates.

Maggie knows that to crack the case, she and Jack will have to infiltrate the cutthroat world of high-stakes finance. But the offices of Sterling Financial seethe with potential suspects, every employee hellbent on making a killing. When another officer uncovers disturbing evidence in a series of unrelated murders, the investigation takes a surprising detour.

Only Maggie recognizes the blood-soaked handiwork of a killer who has committed the most heinous of crimes—and will continue killing until he is stopped. Burdened with unbearable secrets, Maggie must make an agonizing choice, while her conscience keeps telling her: she’s next.

Description from Goodreads.

“As always with Black, [the] psychological suspense is incredible. And her way of describing the financial world makes you want to run out, take any money you have invested, cash it in and place it under your pillow instead.” – Suspense Magazine

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook


Traitor by  Jonathan De Shalit

traitorWhen a young Israeli walks into an American embassy and offers to betray his country for money and power, he has no idea that the CIA agent interviewing him is a Russian mole.

Years later, that young man has risen in the ranks to become a trusted advisor to Israel’s Prime Minister and throughout his career, he’s been sharing everything he knows with the Kremlin. Now, however, a hint that there may be a traitor in the highest realms of power has slipped out and a top-secret team is put together to hunt for him.

The chase leads the team from the streets of Tel Aviv to deep inside the Russian zone and, finally, to the United States, where a most unique spymaster is revealed. The final showdown—between the traitor and the betrayed—can only be resolved by an act of utter treachery that could have far-reaching and devastating consequences.

Description from Goodreads.

“Written with stunning authenticity from someone who knows what they’re talking about, Jonathan de Shalit’s Traitor is a smart, thought-provoking, rising crescendo of suspense that hits all the right notes from start to finish. Don’t miss one of 2018’s hottest debuts!” – The Real Book Spy

“An intense read . . . Those of you that love a great spy/espionage read will definitely want to pick this one up.” – The Wit & Wonder Agency

Available Formats:

Print Book


Hellbent by  Gregg Andrew Hurwitz

hellbentTaken from a group home at age twelve, Evan Smoak was raised and trained as an off-the-books government assassin: Orphan X. After he broke with the Orphan Program, Evan disappeared and reinvented himself as the Nowhere Man, a man spoken about only in whispers and dedicated to helping the truly desperate.

But this time, the voice on the other end is Jack Johns, the man who raised and trained him, the only father Evan has ever known. Secret government forces are busy trying to scrub the remaining assets and traces of the Orphan Program and they have finally tracked down Jack. With little time remaining, Jack gives Evan his last assignment: find and protect his last protégé and recruit for the program.

But Evan isn’t the only one after this last Orphan—the new head of the Orphan Program, Van Sciver, is mustering all the assets at his disposal to take out both Evan (Orphan X) and the target he is trying to protect.

Description from Goodreads.

“Where there’s Smoak, there’s firepower. The only thing better than a great book is a series in which each book is exponentially better than the last. It’s not a feat that can be pulled off by just any author, but it’s viscerally powerful when done right and Hellbent is as right as it gets. [It] combines the intrigue, action and emotional wallop of the first two novels (Orphan X and The Nowhere Man) and ratchets it up into the stratosphere of white-knuckled tension and hyperventilating action.” – The Oklahoman

Hellbent is carved from the same cloth of not only Lee Child, but also David Baldacci, and it proves Hurwitz to be every bit the equal of both of them. This is raw, visceral action writing layered with rare depth and emotion, making Hellbent an early contender for one of the best thrillers of the year.” – Providence Journal

“Must read!” – New York Post

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook


Dark in Death by  J.D. Robb

dark in deathIt was a stab in the dark.

On a chilly February night, during a screening of Psycho in midtown, someone sunk an ice pick into the back of Chanel Rylan’s neck, then disappeared quietly into the crowds of drunks and tourists in Times Square. To Chanel’s best friend, who had just slipped out of the theater for a moment to take a call, it felt as unreal as the ancient black-and-white movie up on the screen. But Chanel’s blood ran red, and her death was anything but fictional.

Then, as Eve Dallas puzzles over a homicide that seems carefully planned and yet oddly personal, she receives a tip from an unexpected source: an author of police thrillers who recognizes the crime—from the pages of her own book. Dallas doesn’t think it’s coincidence, since a recent strangulation of a sex worker resembles a scene from her writing as well. Cops look for patterns of behavior: similar weapons, similar MOs. But this killer seems to find inspiration in someone else’s imagination, and if the theory holds, this may be only the second of a long-running series.

The good news is that Eve and her billionaire husband Roarke have an excuse to curl up in front of the fireplace with their cat, Galahad, reading mystery stories for research. The bad news is that time is running out before the next victim plays an unwitting role in a murderer’s deranged private drama—and only Eve can put a stop to a creative impulse gone horribly, destructively wrong.

Description from Goodreads.

“Robb expertly ratchets up the suspense as the endgame approaches in this deadly chess match between Eve and her cunning opponent.” – Publishers Weekly

Available Formats:

Print Book | AudiobookeBook


Killer Choice by  Tom Hunt

killer choiceGary Foster’s life is finally heading in the right direction. After years of trying, his wife, Beth, is pregnant, and he recently opened a business with his brother. But one phone call changes everything….

After collapsing suddenly, Beth has been rushed to the hospital. Tests reveal a devastating diagnosis: an inoperable brain tumor. Their only hope is an expensive experimental treatment available abroad, with a cost that’s out of their reach. And Beth’s time is running out….

Then a strange man approaches Gary and offers the money he needs, on one condition: that he kill someone, no questions asked. End one life to save another.

In this nail-biting debut novel of domestic suspense, one man makes a choice that forces him to confront the darkest reaches of his soul and betray those closest to him. As he’s swept up in a nightmare of escalating violence, he must question his own morality—and determine just how far he’s willing to go to save the woman he loves.

Description from Goodreads.

“Terrific…full of shocks and twists you won’t see coming—unputdownable and highly recommended!” – Lee Child, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“With a premise torn from the pages of a psychology textbook and a furious cascade of twists, Killer Choice is a lightning-fast ride that’ll keep you guessing until the end. You can go ahead and throw away your bookmark now. This is a one-sit read.” – Brad Parks, author of Say Nothing

“A promising debut with a Hitchcockian hook, Killer Choice is a terrific, cinematic read from a new writer to watch.” – William Landay, New York Times bestselling author of Defending Jacob

Available Formats:

Print Book



ROMANCE



Still Me by  JoJo Moyes

still meLouisa Clark arrives in New York ready to start a new life, confident that she can embrace this new adventure and keep her relationship with Ambulance Sam alive across several thousand miles. She steps into the world of the superrich, working for Leonard Gopnik and his much younger second wife, Agnes. Lou is determined to get the most out of the experience and throws herself into her new job and New York life.

As she begins to mix in New York high society, Lou meets Joshua Ryan, a man who brings with him a whisper of her past. Before long, Lou finds herself torn between Fifth Avenue where she works and the treasure-filled vintage clothing store where she actually feels at home. And when matters come to a head, she has to ask herself: Who is Louisa Clark? And how do you reconcile a heart that lives in two places?

Funny, romantic, and poignant, Still Me follows Lou as she navigates how to stay true to herself, while pushing to live boldly in her brave new world.

Description from Goodreads.

“Louisa is the perfect mix of daffy and brilliant, a sartorial risk-taker with a knack for solving other people’s problems.  It is utterly satisfying to watch her tackle her own. Readers of Sophie Kinsella and Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project will want to start at the beginning. … Moyes fans will be clamoring for the return of Louisa Clark.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Moyes’s easy way of making you instantly care for her characters (deeply) prevails.” – goop

Available Formats:

Print Book | AudiobookeBook | eAudiobook



NONFICTION



The Monk of Mokha by  Dave Eggers

monk of mokhaMokhtar Alkhanshali grew up in San Francisco, one of seven siblings brought up by Yemeni immigrants in a tiny apartment.

At age twenty-four, unable to pay for college, he works as a doorman, until a statue of an Arab raising a cup of coffee awakens something in him. He sets out to learn the rich history of coffee in Yemen and the complex art of tasting and identifying varietals. He travels to Yemen and visits countless farms, collecting samples, eager to bring improved cultivation methods to the countryside. And he is on the verge of success when civil war engulfs Yemen in 2015.

The US Embassy closes, Saudi bombs began to rain down on the country, and Mokhtar is trapped in Yemen. Desperate to escape, he embarks on a passage that has him negotiating with dueling political factions and twice kidnapped at gunpoint.With no other options, he hires a skiff to take him, and his coffee samples, across the Red Sea.

A heart-pounding true story that weaves together the history of coffee, the ongoing Yemeni civil war, and the courageous journey of a young man–a Muslim and a US citizen–following the most American of dreams.

Description from Goodreads.

“[A] phenomenally well-written, juggernaut tale of an intrepid and irresistible entrepreneur on a complex and meaningful mission, a highly caffeinated adventure story.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“A vibrant depiction of courage and passion, interwoven with a detailed history of Yemeni coffee and a timely exploration of Muslim American identity.” – Entertainment Weekly

“A cracking tale of intrigue and bravery… A gripping, triumphant adventure story.” – Los Angeles Times

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook


Black Fortunes: The Story of the First Six African Americans Who Escaped Slavery and Became Millionaires by  Shomari Wills

black fortunesThe astonishing untold history of America’s first black millionaires—former slaves who endured incredible challenges to amass and maintain their wealth for a century, from the Jacksonian period to the Roaring Twenties—self-made entrepreneurs whose unknown success mirrored that of American business heroes such as Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller, and Thomas Edison.

While Oprah Winfrey, Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Michael Jordan, and Will Smith are among the estimated 35,000 black millionaires in the nation today, these famous celebrities were not the first blacks to reach the storied one percent. Between the years of 1830 and 1927, as the last generation of blacks born into slavery was reaching maturity, a small group of smart, tenacious, and daring men and women broke new ground to attain the highest levels of financial success.

Black Fortunes is an intriguing look at these remarkable individuals, including Napoleon Bonaparte Drew—author Shomari Wills’ great-great-great-grandfather—the first black man in Powhatan County (contemporary Richmond) to own property in post-Civil War Virginia. His achievements were matched by five other unknown black entrepreneurs including:

Mary Ellen Pleasant, who used her Gold Rush wealth to further the cause of abolitionist John Brown;
Robert Reed Church, who became the largest landowner in Tennessee;
Hannah Elias, the mistress of a New York City millionaire, who used the land her lover gave her to build an empire in Harlem;
Orphan and self-taught chemist Annie Turnbo-Malone, who developed the first national brand of hair care products;
Madam C. J Walker, Turnbo-Malone’s employee who would earn the nickname America’s “first female black millionaire;”
Mississippi school teacher O. W. Gurley, who developed a piece of Tulsa, Oklahoma, into a “town” for wealthy black professionals and craftsmen” that would become known as “the Black Wall Street.”

A fresh, little-known chapter in the nation’s story—A blend of Hidden Figures, Titan, and The TycoonsBlack Fortunes illuminates the birth of the black business titan and the emergence of the black marketplace in America as never before.

Description from Goodreads.

“Fascinating… Wills’ storytelling is infectious, his subjects are irresistible, and his broad coverage invites readers to venture further into the events and historical context he so vividly introduces.” – Booklist

“The history mined in Black Fortunes will come as a revelation to many who will be shocked to learn that there was a black wealth class immediately after slavery….a classic story of black resilience and the determination to upend a racist social order in the most meaningful, quantifiable way, but it’s also a cautionary tale about the unique challenges African Americas face in trying to build and sustain wealth.” – Black Enterprise

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook

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