Beneath the suspense-filled action of a homegrown terrorist plot, Nicholas Petrie’s debut novel, The Drifter, follows the compelling story of one former Marine’s struggle to reacclimate himself to civilian life while honoring his commitment to a fallen soldier. That alone is reason to keep reading, but Petrie amps up the stakes in surprising fashion, creating a story that is moving, thrilling and satisfying on every level.
It’s best to get the main conceit of Jessica Chiarella’s debut novel, And Again, out of the way: four people with terminal conditions win a lottery that entitles them to participate in what’s called the SUB program. This is a program where their bodies are cloned and when they reach the biological age of the participants—which happens after a few months—their memories are transplanted wholesale into the new bodies.
“Eleanor has been ripped out of time . . .” Without that one little sentence on the cover, it would be easy, initially at least, to lose one’s genre bearings in the opening 70 pages or so of Jason Gurley’s Eleanor.
From Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? to Gone Girl, contemporary marriage has frequently been subject to scathing literary portrayals. Andria Williams, however, may well be the first to set marital tribulations against the backdrop of a (literal) nuclear meltdown. Given this, ahem, explosive premise, it’s interesting to note that Williams’ debut eschews the extremities favored by the likes of Edward Albee or Gillian Flynn. The Longest Night is a closely observed study with its feet planted firmly in domestic realism.
Bestselling author Thomas Perry loves plans, escapes and perfect getaways. He also has a low-key, sardonic sense of humor and is a master at creating witty and likable thieves that we end up rooting for, often over the more straight-and-narrow option. All of these keystones are in place in Perry’s most recent standalone thriller, Forty Thieves—and there are at least that many iffy characters tumbling around in this winning novel.
The story of an aging poet transplanted from Ireland to America as a young man, Thomas Murphy is itself pure poetry. Roger Rosenblatt’s return to fiction after several memoirs, including two moving books dealing with the aftermath of his daughter’s sudden death, is a brief but lovely rumination on one man’s irresistible impulse to savor life’s riches, even as losses mount and the ravages of age take their relentless toll.
Time and space are as fluid as water in Keith Lee Morris’ labyrinthine third novel, his first since 2008’s brutal The Dart League King. This time, a family road trip goes awry in the small town of Good Night, Idaho thanks to a hotel that rivals The Shining’s, a book with which Travelers Rest will inevitably be compared, though there are more definitive answers here.
There are precious few angels, burning or otherwise, in Tawni O’Dell’s intense psychological thriller Angels Burning, set in a bleak, backwoods Pennsylvania town where mining, money and good times have pretty much come and gone.
It is impossible to explain fully the beautiful, haunting emotional power of Elizabeth Strout’s new novel, My Name Is Lucy Barton. Magic? Genius? Certainly much of its power arises from the mesmerizing voice of Lucy Barton, teller of this tale. And much of it comes from the details of the story she slowly unfolds.
It’s easy to dismiss “spoiler alert” people for obsessing over what’s in a story rather than caring about how that story is actually told. Then a book like Mr. Splitfoot comes along, and you realize that this is a case where the spooky details matter—not because of something as shallow as “spoilers,” but because you’ll want to savor every fiendish bit of this book.