Nobody has ever taken care of Mia Dennett. Her upwardly mobile parents didn’t do it. Her uptight older sister didn’t do it. So the talented inner-city art teacher has learned to take care of herself. Or so she thinks, until an impulsive one-night stand turns into a nightmare far beyond Mia’s control. But why does her abductor seem so uncertain about his plans for her? Why did he choose to hide her in a remote Minnesota cabin rather than turn her over to the man who hired him? Was it an act of mercy, or something else entirely?
The first thing you may think when reading the opening pages of Stephen L. Carter’s engrossing Back Channel is, “What in the devil is going on here?” It’s 1962 and we’re at the beginning of the Cuban Missile Crisis. President Kennedy is in a townhouse with a 19-year-old African-American girl, but not for the reason you think. It seems that this young lady is the key to stopping the world from becoming a glowing, radioactive ember in the darkness of space. You can’t be blamed if your first reaction is bemusement.
M.D. Waters provides even more suspense and revelations as she returns to the complicated dystopian world that she set up so brilliantly in her debut novel Archetype. Equal parts science fiction and romance, this two-book series follows our heroine Emma as she attempts to define herself in a futuristic world where cloning is an everyday affair.
Australian author Liane Moriarty portrays elementary school drama in her latest page-turner, Big Little Lies, which comes on the heels of her first U.S. bestseller, The Husband’s Secret. At Pirriwee Public School, petty jealousies and rumors all come to the surface in one “perfect storm”—otherwise known as the annual trivia night.
There are several ways to know whether you’ve got a really fine novel on your hands, and you can tell pretty quickly that Dry Bones in the Valley is a debut of that caliber.
First, author Tom Bouman knows his rural Pennsylvania setting and is familiar with its smallest details, from inhabitants’ accents and manners to their dilapidated trailer homes, and from animal tracks in the woods to the winds and the night sky.
It’s been quite a run lately for Civil War-era African Americans. Not only was Solomon Northrup’s 1853 memoir, Twelve Years a Slave, adapted into a triple Academy Award winner (including Best Picture), but now author Jeffery Renard Allen has resurrected the career—if perhaps not quite the true life story—of Thomas Greene Wiggins, also known as Blind Tom, in his second novel, Song of the Shank. Wiggins was perhaps the most unlikely of stars ever thrust on the international stage; sightless, probably autistic, heavyset (though somewhat handsome in a rough-hewn way) and, for the first 16 years of his life, a slave.
Rebecca Rasmussen (The Bird Sisters) traces the lasting damage of violence to devastating effect in her second novel, Evergreen, a fairy tale-like chronicle of how one moment’s pain can echo through generations.
Judith Frank’s second novel is a powerful tale of a family working its way through unthinkable tragedy. It opens as Matt Greene and his partner, Daniel Rosen, are flying to Tel Aviv—Daniel’s twin brother and his wife have just been killed by a suicide bomber. Ilana and Joel left behind two small children, 6-year-old Gall and baby Noam. A devastated Daniel knows that his brother and sister-in-law wanted Matt and Daniel to raise the children if anything ever happened to them.
At first glance, Ove looks like a Grumpy Old Man with a Saab—a typical curmudgeon, not the type whose depths one is tempted to plumb. In fact, unless you like being scowled at, scolded, insulted and having doors slammed in your face, you might just decide to avoid him altogether. He wouldn’t mind; the only person he wants to see is his wife, who died six months ago.
“There are often two conversations going on in a marriage,” short-story writer Robin Black claims in her debut novel, Life Drawing. “The one that you’re having and the one that you’re not. Sometimes you don’t even know when that second, silent one has begun.” One could suggest that there are two conversations going on in this quiet, yet exquisitely crafted novel: the conversation between Augusta (Gus) and her husband Owen, and the conversation they’re not having, about Gus having cheated on him.