There’s a stranger in Claudia Morgan-Brown’s house. The Birmingham, England, social worker has what should be an enviable life: Newly married to a wealthy naval officer, she lives in a palatial house and is step-parenting his adorable twin boys. And after a string of heartbreaking miscarriages with her ex, she’s finally expecting a baby girl of her own. But there’s a problem: the new live-in nanny, Zoe Harcomb.
In the latest novel by accomplished author Jean Hanff Korelitz (Admission, A Jury of Her Peers), which shares the title of its main character’s book, relationship challenges raise questions of how often we really know what’s best, whether living the life we’ve envisioned necessarily means we’re living it right, and how we overlook our instinctive responses to the people we meet.
“Cryptography involves one genius trying to work out what another genius has done—it results in the most appalling carnage,” observes one Decoded character. In this debut novel from Mai Jia, eccentric math prodigy Rong Jinzhen is plucked from his studies at N University and recruited to China’s top-secret Unit 701.
Let’s get one thing straight: With The Weight of Blood, it’s clear that Laura McHugh is more than a pretender to the throne of the “rural noir” genre. If her dazzling and disturbing debut novel is anything to go by, she’s got her eye on the crown and has more than the necessary talent and skills to nab it for herself. Daniel Woodrell had better watch his back.
If you’re very observant and know a little something about the wilder shores of human genetics, then you may be able to figure out the big mystery of Carol Cassella’s new novel by, oh, page 260 or so. Oh yes, the title also gives one a hint as to what’s going on with one of the book’s well-drawn characters. But we should start at the beginning.
There’s nothing more peaceful than a 3 A.M. jog on an ocean boardwalk with waves lapping in the distance and no one around—or is there? In Runner, the debut novel in Patrick Lee’s new thriller series, retired special forces op Sam Dryden finds he’s not jogging alone but running for his life, along with a young stranger—an 11-year-old girl who’s fleeing from some smart, devious pursuers . . .
In 1894, Paris was rocked by the infamous Dreyfus affair, which reverberated in France for decades after Captain Alfred Dreyfus was convicted of treason in “a monstrous miscarriage of justice.” Robert Harris’ new novel, An Officer and a Spy, builds on the riveting trial and its aftermath, perfectly demonstrating its anti-Semitic core and the sense of justice gone awry in a rigid military hierarchy.
Emma Burke wakes up in a hospital bed with no recollection of how she got there. Her husband, Declan, tells her that she is recovering from an accident that nearly killed her. Disoriented and confused, Emma can’t recall any firm details about what happened to her or who she is. Physically, Emma slowly regains her strength, but her memory is not as quick to recover.
Gritty downtown Boston and the awe-inspiring but unforgiving North Atlantic coast come to life in Elisabeth Elo’s debut suspense novel, North of Boston. Elo shows us the Eastern seaboard through the fiercely loyal, ceaselessly skeptical and fundamentally fearless eyes of Pirio Kasparov. When the lobster boat Pirio is working on is struck and sunk in Boston Harbor, killing her friend Ned and nearly killing Pirio, she doesn’t believe it was an accident.
BookPage Fiction Top Pick, February 2014
“The first time I saw a sleeper, I was nine years old.” Best-selling author Jennifer McMahon (Promise Not to Tell) opens her new novel, The Winter People, with a sentence that offers a tantalizing glimpse of the horrors to come in this marvelously creepy page-turner.