This week's roundup has a little more testosterone than the last few. We've got several new titles on Boswell's best, plus a couple that I overlooked on first release, both with staff recommendations. Don't forget that all five books are 20% off at least through next Monday, May 6.
Claire Messud follows up The Emperor's Children with The Woman Upstairs (Knopf), a psychological thriller about a Cambridge elementary school teacher who becomes involved in the lives of one of her new students and her family. Joe Klein in the Boston Globe wrote that "this is not just a novel of real psychological insight. It is also a supremely well-crafted page-turner with a shocker of an ending. Messud lays down hints of tragedy like a trail of bread crumbs — but the place she leads us is a House of Horrors.
Another new release is Peter Lovesey's The Tooth Tattoo (Soho), the latest Peter Diamond mystery, which this time involves our detective from Bath finding a body in a canal, with the only clue to her identity being a musical tattoo on her tooth, hence the title. If you're thinking rock and roll here, you're barking up the wrong genre. In his enthusiastic review, Patrick Anderson in The Washington Post notes "Lovesey has won many prizes for his crime fiction; we expect fine writing and devilish plots from him. But the wonder of this novel is how deep he carries us into the world of a string quartet. He knows the music, and he makes clear its beauty, its challenges and the passions it arouses in both musicians and their audiences." And just a special shout out to Lovesey folks--we came VERY close to hosting him for this tour, and if we sell a lot of copies of the new book, we might get him next time. That's right--you can make a difference.
Stephen King's son Joe is homaging his dad in this horrifying new novel, NOS4A2 (Morrow), and I mean that in a good way. Charlie Manx drives kids away in his vintage Rolls to a place called Christmasland, and the only one to ever escape was Victoria McQueen (doesn't this remind you a bit of a Pinocchio subplot? So now Victoria is grown up and he's after her son. We've got a rec on this one from our own Sharon. She writes: "Strap yourself in and get ready for a wild ride to Christmasland with Charlie Manx and some distinctly unpleasant children. Joe Hill has outdone himself with his latest offering. Vic McQueen must take on Charlie Manx to get her son back. An epic battle of good versus evil is played out in this mesmerizing story."
I am remiss! I don't think I've et written up Austin Grossman's You (Mulholland), despite gobs of enthusiasm from Boswellians, particularly Mel. The newest from the author of Soon I Will be Invincible is about a videogamer, Russell, who joins a company called Black Arts, and finds that a software glitch has implications that goes back years, traversing, to quote the publisher "real and virtual worlds, corporate boardrooms and high school computer camp, to a secret that changed a friendship and the history of gaming." Mel says "Take a step behind the curtain and meet the Great and Powerful Video Game Designer! See what a wizard does in his free time! Go on a date with the most powerful woman in the multiverse! Bike across town in the sunshine, fantasizing about your latest Commodore 64 coding triumph! YOU get to be the hero, designer, and the spectator in his fun new novel by video game designer Austin. This is a fun, insightful read that takes on the importance of video games in our lives and culture, and the outcome of the quest for the ULTIMATE GAME."
We thought we had an outside chance of hosting Peter Rock too, being that he does have family in Shorewood. Both Paul and Stacie loved his new novel, The Shelter Cycle (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). Here's what Stacie had to say: "In the 1980s, bunkers were built in Montana that would offer shelter for up to seven years, in case of nuclear war (believed to be imminent). As they prepared, the members of the Church Universal and Triumphant lived their lives in a way they hoped might keep such destruction at bay. Twenty years later, Francine, who grew up in the Church, is preparing to bring her own child into a still-dangerous world. But when a childhood friend—one who understands her strange past—appears on her doorstep, the clear divides between that past, and Francine's present and future, will sharply converge. Anyone who has moved on from a deeply religious upbringing, and yet still felt surprisingly drawn to its flame will recognize the characters in Rock's new novel, which manages to be both brutally compelling and quietly gentle."
Hope to see you tonight at Maria Semple's event, co-sponsored by Local First Milwaukee (May 1, 7 pm).