In Love in Lowercase, Samuel lives a quiet life based on routine. He’s a loner in every sense of the word: His family interactions are perfunctory, not pleasant. A professor, he teaches about great stories and tortured characters, but his own life is quite shallow and plotless—until a cat wanders through the front door of his Barcelona apartment and changes his life, inviting in love, friendship and even a little bit of adventure.
In Shilpi Somaya Gowda’s compelling second novel, childhood best friends Anil and Leena choose very different life paths.
There may be animals, an imminent flood and a guy named Noah, but Noah’s Wife is not the familiar Genesis account. Imagine not a wind-tossed ark on rough waters but a town where the rains began and never stopped. Never a break in the gray clouds, never a feeling besides damp, no change in the forecast.
Crime novelist Elmore Leonard once said writers should “try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.” That’s advice Scott Frank clearly takes to heart in his debut novel, Shaker. Frank captures the underbelly of Los Angeles’ streets to perfection with sharply written prose and biting dialogue. There are no wasted words here, as right from the start things take an unexpected turn and the complications begin to multiply for main character Roy Cooper.
Outcasts alienated by their peers, Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead found each other in junior high, forming a tenuous friendship. Patricia was a budding witch and Laurence was a tech whiz, successfully developing a two-second time machine and a potentially sentient computer. But after a painful parting of ways, the two assumed they would never see each other again.
Yes, the heroine of The Things We Keep, Anna, is a 38-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s disease who is confined to an assisted-living facility. But no, Australian writer Sally Hepworth’s second novel is not depressing, and while her narrative can be sad and even painful at times, it is never bleak. On the contrary, the story of Anna and her “boyfriend” at Rosalind House, fellow patient Luke, is tragic but also hopeful, positive and even romantic.
Vincent Zandri captures readers’ attention from the opening scene of his new suspense novel, Orchard Grove, and proceeds to careen through lust and lives. Lana, as a young girl, brutally slays her stepfather who has been sexually abusing her for months. In an unusual twist, Lana relishes the power she experiences when she kills him, and he becomes the first of many men she murers throughout her life.
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.