Sometimes telling a story is all about retelling—tracing the thread of a long-ago series of events and finally getting it right. Minnesota student Joe Talbert discovers this when he is tasked with writing a senior citizen’s biography for a college English class. Short on options and time, Joe heads to Hillview Manor nursing home in search of potential subjects. There he meets Carl Iverson, a dying Vietnam vet who’s out on parole after serving a 30-year sentence for the rape and murder of 14-year-old Crystal Hagen.
Spoiled Brats is ridiculous in the very best way. It’s a short story collection that avoids the usual pitfalls because the stories work well together and don’t lose steam as they go along. A common theme (spoiled rich kids, mostly) keeps these stories cohesive, and author Simon Rich holds our interest with a unifying style—each chapter is very funny, and they’re all based on a different outlandish premise.
Celebrated Japanese author Keigo Higashino makes his authorial power internationally known with Malice, the latest installment in his mystery series featuring police detective Kyochiro Kaga. This well-crafted dual narrative will entice and perhaps even outwit the most seasoned mystery readers.
Reunion is a novel of death and life and family. It’s about the stories we tell ourselves in order to survive, and what happens when those narratives break down and we’re forced to grapple with real life and real people.
Eliza Granville’s suspenseful novel hearkens back to the fairy tales we remember from childhood—but not the sanitized Disney versions. These are the darker tales about witches, ovens and children lost in the deep woods, fleeing for their lives.
One might describe Oregon as a mélange of Haight-Ashbury, Appalachia and Yankee nouveau riche. Valerie Geary’s first novel, Crooked River, follows this interplay between the state’s radicals, rednecks and arrivistes. It begins when a journalist with the WASP-y name of Taylor Bellweather drowns. And the prime suspect is a beekeeper with a beard and a penchant for whiskey.
Jason Mott’s second novel, The Wonder of All Things, is equal parts supernatural thriller and coming-of-age tale as 13-year-old Ava and her best friend, Wash, bravely attempt to navigate their small-town world in the wake of a public disaster. When a beloved local stunt pilot crashes his plane into a crowd of spectators at a festival, Wash is critically injured. When word travels that Ava’s simple act of placing her hands over her friend has healed his wounds, the once quiet town of Stone Temple is soon swarming with folks who are desperate to cure their own loved ones, or themselves.
In December 1976, two days before the Smile Jamaica concert to promote political unity, armed gunmen walked into reggae star Bob Marley’s house at 56 Hope Road in Kingston and began shooting. Marley sustained injuries in his arm and chest; his wife, Rita, was hit as she raced to protect their children; and his manager, Don Taylor, was also injured. In Marlon James’ powerful new novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings, the attack is the centerpiece of a blistering commentary on Jamaica in the 1970s and its inextricable links both to Cold War politics and to the drug wars of the following decade.
As a longtime Picoult fan, I was anxious to devour her latest novel, Leaving Time. And she doesn’t disappoint: Once again, Picoult has masterfully woven what appear to be incongruous events and people together into one captivating and emotional story. This time around, the author’s extensive research on elephants and their surprisingly human emotions are a highlight. But wait, there’s more: She has also included a down-on-her-luck psychic, a spunky teen and a haunting murder.
Russian-born Alina Bronsky made a splash with 2011’s The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine, with praise from sources as varied as The Daily Beast and the Financial Times. She’s back with a third novel, Just Call Me Superhero, serving up more biting wit and a no-frills style that readers can eat up in big, satisfying chunks.