It's always exciting to see the announcement of a new Mo Hayder novel. Hayder's last mystery, Gone, was our Top Pick in the February 2011 Whodunit column. Her next book is called Hanging Hill and will be published by Grove in February 2012 (it was published in the UK by Bantam this April).
This one's a standalone about sisters Sally and Zoe. Sally is a wife and mother whose husband's wealth has sheltered her. Zoe is a detective inspector in Bath with a shady secret past beneath her squeaky-clean and solid present. But when Sally's daughter is threatened, her world changes and she reaches out to Zoe for help, forcing her sister back into a dark world that Zoe thought she'd escaped forever. You can find out an excerpt here.
Hayder excels at creating complicated, strong female characters, and Hanging Hill sounds like one of her best. Will you pick it up?
Everyone's favorite rugged sleuth now has a face: Tom Cruise will play Jack Reacher in a film based on Lee Child's One Shot. From the actor's official website: "[We are] excited to confirm that Tom Cruise will play the rugged Jack Reacher in the movie ‘One Shot,’ adapted from the 2005 Lee Child novel."
Not everyone is so excited. Most are citing Cruise's short stature and everyman persona as traits that make him exactly wrong to play Reacher. "[I]f you’re casting Jack Reacher, a French/American ex-military cop who stands 6’5? and often breezes into any given burg looking like a giant disheveled blond bum, then Tom Cruise is the opposite of the man you should be looking for," states slashfilm in a post that doesn't mince words.
EW's Popwatch is more enthusiastic. "Reacher is like a grittier, real-world version of Ethan Hunt from the Mission: Impossible series — he drifts from town to town with no luggage, pitching in to help crime victims, and using his military training and resourcefulness to get out of jams." Lee Child also approves. "Reacher's size in the books is a metaphor for an unstoppable force, which Cruise portrays in his own way," the author told Deadline.
Cruise was pretty good in the MI movies, so maybe he's got a shot here. The film starts shooting September 27 in Philadelphia—which, coincidentally, is the day the 16th Reacher novel, The Affair, will be published by Delacorte.
Just one question remains: where does Cruise as Reacher lie on the scale of book-to-film casting nightmares?* Weigh in in the comments!
The Most Dangerous Thing by Laura Lippman
Morrow • $25.99 • ISBN 9780061706516
on sale August 23, 2011
In general, I prefer stand-alone suspense novels to series, so I was thrilled to learn that Lippman has a September book coming out that is indeed a stand alone—and not part of her series about Baltimore PI Tess Monaghan.
The Most Dangerous Thing alternates between the present and the 1970s. It's about five childhood friends who come together again after one of their group dies in a car accident . . . and a secret comes out.
Here's an early scene from the friend's funeral:
Gwen was spared funerals as a child and accepted this practice, as she accepted so many of her parents' practices, as the inarguably right thing to do. Certainly, it never occurred to her to bring Annabelle to Go-Go's visitation, and she is shocked to see how many young children are here. More disturbing, they are gathered around the open casket, inspecting Go-Go with a respectful but palpable excitement. A dead person! This is what a dead person looks like! In the fact of their bravery, how can Gwen not come forward and look as well?
A dead person this may well be, but it is not the boy she remembers and not only because he is thirty years older than the Go-Go who lives in her memory. This person is too still, his features too composed. Go-Go was never still.
"Gwen." Doris Halloran holds her hands tightly, peers into her face, as if nearsighted. "Pretty little Gwen. You look wonderful."
She does? She doesn't feel as if she looks wonderful. True, she is thin. She has no appetite as of late. But she is pretty sure that the lack of food has made her face gaunt, her hair dull and dry. Then again, maybe it's all relative. She looks better than Go-Go, for example. And better than Mrs. Halloran, whose face is white and puffy in a way that cannot be explained by mere grieving. Her eyes are like little raisins deep in an uncooked loaf, her mouth ringed by wrinkles.
Good news for fans of intelligent suspense: Tom Rob Smith's final novel in the Leo Demidov trilogy, which began with the remarkable Child 44, has a release date. Agent 6 (Grand Central) will be published in January 2012.
The book opens in 1965, when Leo and his family are sent to New York City to help warm relations between America and the USSR. But tragedy strikes while he's there, and Moscow denies his request to investigate the wrong done to his family. Leo doesn't take no for an answer, however. As the publisher puts it:
In a surprising, epic story that spans decades and continents—from 1950s Moscow to 1960s America to the Soviet war in Afghanistan in the 1980s—Leo's long pursuit of justice will force him to confront everything he ever thought he knew about his country, his family, and himself.
Child 44 came out three years ago this month, and I remember taking the galleys home, intrigued by the concept (a serial killer in Stalinist Russia) but not expecting anything else about the book to be out of the common way. To my surprise, I couldn't put it down. Anyone else looking forward to picking up Agent 6?
p.s. on his blog, Smith says he's working on a fourth book that is "something completely new." He adds, "all I can say at the moment is that it’s a thriller, and it’s not set in the Soviet Union." Also, if anyone speaks German, they have a site up for the German edition of Agent 6 already (it will be released in Europe and the UK this fall).
I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman
William Morrow • $14.99 • ISBN 9780062070753
paperback on sale May 3, 2011 • hardcover available now
I'd Know You Anywhere is about a 38-year-woman, Eliza Benedict, who was kidnapped when she was 15. Her kidnapper killed a handful of other girls, and Eliza was his only victim who survived. The mystery in the novel is the "why"—why was Eliza allowed to live? The action alternates between the present, where the killer is on death row and set to be executed, and the past, when he took Eliza. In the present—seemingly out of the blue—he has contacted Eliza and wants to explain what happened. As you might imagine, his presence turns her life upside down. . .
It's been said before and I'll say it again: Lippman is not just a great suspense writer, but she is a great writer. When the novel first came out in August, reviewer Susan Schwartzman called it a "compelling and provocative psychological thriller." I wanted to remind you of the novel again now because it comes out in paperback in two weeks. Here's an excerpt to pique your interest:
Her mouth freed, she thought for a moment about screaming her head off but found she could not make the sounds come. She was too frightened, too scared. His hands lingered near her throat. She thought about the mound of dirt where she had first seen the man, working with his shovel. He had not said, explicitly, what he had done, but she knew. He was capable of killing someone. He had done it. Elizabeth decided in that moment that she would do whatever was necessary to survive. She would endure whatever plans he had for her, as long as she was allowed to live.
"What's your name?" she whispered.
"Walter," he said. "I think sometimes I should shorten it to Walt. What do you think?"
She was terrified that there was a right answer, and she wouldn't give it. "Both are nice."
The daughter of an FBI agent, P.M. Terrell wrote 12 novels solo before starting on a collaborative effort with T. Randy Stevens. Here, she shares her tips for a successful team writing project with BookPage readers.
Writing times two
guest post by P.M. Terrell
Years ago, I met a married couple who had gone from writing romance to murder mysteries. I think there’s something Freudian in that, but I was also struck by the concept of two individuals collaborating on one book. I doubted I would ever want to do it. But with my latest suspense novel, The Banker’s Greed, that is precisely what I did. And I would eagerly do it again.
T. Randy Stevens, the CEO and Chairman of the Board of First Farmers Bank, approached me with a draft and asked me if I would consider editing or rewriting it. I knew when I read the story—about a banker’s daughter who is kidnapped and all the clues lead to her father—that he had a compelling plot and multi-faceted characters. But I also knew that I did not want to take another person’s story and rewrite it. It was his idea and I wanted it to be a team effort.
For months, Randy wrote his chapters in the middle of the night. I’d arrive at my office to find his emailed chapters waiting for me. I’d spend the day massaging them, adding my “flair” and emailing him with suggestions and ideas. We went back and forth like this and the pages began to accumulate. Then we progressed to rewriting, editing and perfecting it.
I was fortunate because Randy is a dream to work with. For authors considering a collaborative effort, I recommend:
Today's Groupon is of interest to readers: you can purchase a ticket to see the film version of Michael Connelly's The Lincoln Lawyer for just $6. The film hits theaters this Friday.
Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, William H. Macy, and Ryan Phillippe star in this adaptation of Connelly's 2006 novel about a lawyer who solves cases from the backseat of his Lincoln. We called the book "an eye-opening look at how the criminal justice system really works"—will the movie be the same? For $6 you can be the judge! Come back and leave us a comment if you see the film.
Related in BookPage: more on Michael Connelly's books.
We recently posted our insider information about Justin Cronin's The Twelve—now, with the announcement of a paperback cover and release date of May 17 for The Passage (one of our best books of 2010), there's a bit more to report.
EW has printed a short extract from The Twelve—here's the beginning:
They came, gliding from the blackness. First one and then another and another, forming a penumbra of pulsing light where they crouched at the edge of the shadows. And in her mind she heard the voices, always the voices, the voices and the question:
Who am I?
Do you prefer the hardcover or paperback cover for The Passage? Both are subtly creepy in a way that fits the story, but I think I like the twilit woods...
There's still no pub date for The Twelve, although it's expected to hit shelves sometime in 2012. (ETA: pub date is August 28!)
Related in BookPage: our interview with Justin Cronin about The Passage
Learning to Swim by Sara J. Henry
Crown • $24 • 9780307718389
On sale February 22, 2011
Sara J. Henry's debut starts with a bang—or, more literally, a splash—and doesn't let up until the final page. It's a classic "what-if" scenario: what if you were on a ferry and noticed a child falling from the ferry heading in the opposite direction? What if you jumped off the ferry to save that child?
What if that child had been pushed?
The aftermath of heroine Troy Chance's rescue of the boy, a French Canadian child named Paul, brings further complications. He doesn't seem to have been reported missing, and his arms were bound when he was thrown off the ferry. Unable to trust anyone, and increasingly concerned about the future of her shy and damaged young charge, Troy finds herself in the middle of a dangerous mystery.
I went to the doorway and it took me a moment to register that the bed was empty. No boy, no dog. For a moment I couldn't breathe. . . . My eyes went to the bedside table where we'd left the half-eaten piece of pizza. OK, missing boy, missing dog, missing half slice of pizza.
"Paul," I called out softly. "Paul, where are you? Où es-tu?"
A whine from Tiger. I eased back the hanging sheet that served as a closet door, and there was Paul crouched in the corner, one arm around Tiger, the other hand gripping the gnawed piza slice—looking as if it were perfectly normal to hide in a closet with a dog and a piece of pizza. I knelt, a careful distance away. "Good morning Paul," I said, keeping my voice steady. Would you like some breakfast? Veux-tu prendre le petit déjuner?"
He shifted but seemed unsure what to do. I snapped my fingers and Tiger obediently came toward me. "Did something frighten you?" I asked Paul. "Tu as peur?" No answer. "Paul, sweetie, come on out," I said, opening my arms and letting a little emotion into my voice.
He wouldn't look at me, and I waited a long, long moment. Finally he moved into my arms. I could feel the frailty of his limbs; I could feel his heart beating; I could almost feel his fear and confusion and loneliness. I hadn't known you could form an attachment to a person so quickly, so atavistically. Had my sisters experienced this when their children were born? I realized I would do anything to protect this child. "Je ne te blesserai jamais," I whispered to him. "I will never hurt you. Never."
And I knew I wouldn't be marching this boy down to the police station, not today, and possibly never.
You can download a chapter of the book here. What are you reading this week?
Leslie Tentler just spent the weekend on the road touring in support of her first novel, Midnight Caller (MIRA). In a guest post, she talks about the experience of signing at Books-A-Million stores in Kingsport and Johnson City, Tennessee, near her hometown.
My father was a bit of a celebrity in my small hometown in Eastern Tennessee. He coached high school football there for over two decades and to this day, I can’t watch "Friday Night Lights" without getting homesick. The show is authentic. It takes me back, every time.
My parents are both gone now (my mother was a well-loved teacher there, as well), and I do wonder what they would think about the release of my first novel. Both would be proud, I believe, although I recall many years earlier telling my mother of my dream to be a published author. She said, “Just don’t write anything that would embarrass me,” which to her I’m sure meant no profanity or adult situations, and no violence.
I failed on all three counts but I still think somehow she would be proud.
Coming home for two local book signings and a local television show was more overwhelming than I expected. As someone who has lived and worked in Atlanta for many years now, I’ve drifted away from childhood friends. I have to admit to envying my former classmates who remain in our town and are adult friends with many of the same people they knew as kids. I miss that closeness that I’ve never been able to recapture as a “big city” girl.
It was this same group of friends who planned a “girls’ night out” that included me on the Friday prior to my first book signing. I was admittedly nervous. I’ve changed. I’m older and have gotten out of shape while pumping out the first book and the two others that form the Chasing Evil trilogy. I feel like a mom who’s given birth to three babies back to back. One toddling around, one just beginning to crawl and the third a newborn still in my arms. I’m pretty sure I have metaphorical spit-up on my shoulder.
But what I see that night are friendly, familiar faces who are just happy to be together and are also excited for me. “The girls” show up for my signing the next afternoon, even though quite a few of them have already bought and read the book. Still, they buy another at the bookstore. It’s a surreal experience and also a deeply touching one.
Two nights before my first hometown signing, I go to one of the bookstores with my former stepmother who has taken me out to dinner. She politely asks me if the store will mind if she buys all the copies on the shelf that night for family and friends. I tell her I’m pretty sure they won’t and that they have more copies in the back for the signing. As she pays at checkout, I have tears in my eyes.
The weekend visit to my hometown was a whirlwind, filled with interviews, time with family and long-lost friends, and me, writing notes in people’s books in the shaky handwriting I’m so ashamed of. But they don’t seem to mind that it looks as though a second-grader signed it. At this moment, I want to throw my arms around each of them and ask if I can sleep in their spare bedroom or on their couch; stay for just a few more days.
I’m not ready to go back to Atlanta, but Monday has arrived.
Thanks Leslie! For more info on her appearances, check her website. Look for the second book in the Chasing Evil trilogy, Midnight Fear, in August.