There are plenty of ugly childhoods, traumas and bad starts to go around in Mary Kubica’s Pretty Baby, a new psychological thriller that comes hard on the heels of the author’s debut novel, The Good Girl, which hit a number of “best” lists in 2014.
If someone were to recommend a funny novel about the London Blitz, you might think either that the person was joking or that such a book could only be tasteless and disrespectful. In some cases you’d be right, but in the case of Crooked Heart, British author Lissa Evans’ American debut, you’d be in for a pleasant surprise. Evans has written an amusing tale about morally compromised characters that, in the midst of its comedy, asks whether morally wrong actions are justified in a time of unspeakable horror.
Best-selling authors Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus (The Nanny Diaries) have delivered another fun and frothy read with How to Be a Grown-Up, a story in which mommy-lit meets “Sex and the City.”
The trick to a good alternate history, particularly one that’s trying to be as impish and unpredictable as Crooked, is walking a delicious but delicate line between the weird and the plausible. You don’t want the story to veer into territory so unbelievable that it becomes a farce, but neither do you want to follow the straight and narrow. Austin Grossman (You) knows how to walk this line, and as a result he’s delivered a fiendishly entertaining book.
It takes only a few pages of the suspenseful mystery After the Storm to hurl readers into the heart of a violent tornado touching down near the little town of Painters Mill in rural Ohio, bringing widespread destruction and even the death of an infant. In the twister’s aftermath, a different kind of damage works its way to the surface, as Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is called to the site of an old barn where human bones have been unearthed in the wake of the storm.
It’s sometimes amazing to realize how an obsession for sports can take over a life. In John L. Parker Jr.’s amiable new work, a prequel to his 1978 bestseller Once a Runner, Quenton Cassidy, teenage native of Citrus City, Florida, is so wrapped up in his athletic pursuits that the great upheavals of his era—the Cuban missile crisis, the assassination of JFK, civil rights and the arrival of the Beatles for goodness’ sake!—stick in his mind the way anything sticks to Teflon.
Lapland, in the far north of Sweden, is a strange and mysterious place, and this epic novel by Swedish author Stefan Spjut reflects every bit of its otherworldly mystery.
Robin Kirman’s first novel, Bradstreet Gate, is set amidst the hallowed halls of Harvard, peopled mostly by elite young scholars and their erudite professors and mentors. Her story revolves around three of these students, whose lives become entwined over the course of their undergraduate years—and remain so over the next decade.
We usually celebrate our college alma maters with a sense of pride, while doing our best to forget high school altogether. But in Lori Rader-Day’s stunning second novel, a murder at a creepy roadside motel forces an unlikely heroine to revisit her painful high school years.
Noir fans will find plenty to like in The Devil’s Share, the fourth book in Wallace Stroby’s series featuring professional thief Crissa Stone. It’s a classic of the genre and a perfect example of just how badly things can go wrong for anyone, even an obsessive planner like Crissa, who picks up on any tiny deviation from her carefully organized heists.