Wednesday, March 12, 2014

New Releases from Chris Pavone, Jeffrey Archer, Laura McHugh, Elly Griffiths, and John Banville Writing as Benajmin Black and Channeling Raymond Carver.

Chris Pavone's The Accident (Crown) is already getting some nice attention, including a story from Julie Bosman in The New York Times about the unusualness of setting a thriller in the literary world. I actually don't think it's that unusual to be written; it's unusual for the book to sell. Hannah recommended the book on the March Indie Next list: “Literary agent Isabel Reed is the first to receive the manuscript of The Accident, which, unbeknownst to her, is a dangerous thing to have in one’s possession. It reveals secrets that a powerful media mogul and his cronies, including a CIA agent, have spent a lifetime concealing. They will stop at nothing to see that The Accident is never published and that their reputations remain intact. Readers get an insider’s glimpse into the gears of the publishing machine as the manuscript changes hands and endangers everyone who knows of its existence. A compelling thriller for book lovers!”

Be Careful What You Wish For (St. Martin's) from Jeffrey Archer looks like it's from another time, doesn't it. In the day, it was not unusual for the novels of book jackets to adorned by watercolor and oil paintings, but now it says older audience and British, doesn't it? The new novel is set in London and follows two families and the fate of one shipping company. Lots of twists and turns, and it all sounded a bit to me like Downton Abbey, season 37.  Kirkus Reviews confirms this, calling this latest installment "lightweight, entertaining, beach reading." According to Srijana Mitra Das in The Times of India, this is actually book four of what was to be a five-book series, which is now probably a seven-book series, following the life of Harry Clifton.

The publishers position Laura McHugh's The Weight of Blood (Spiegel & Grau) between Daniel Woodrell, Scott Smith, and Gillian Flynn. I think the former is for its atmospheric setting and the latter because it's a psychological thriller with lots of twists and is really popular. In regards to Scott Smith, I couldn't remember who he was without looking him up; do they really think folks will remember 1993's A Simple Plan and its less successful 2006 follow up, The Ruins? Seems odd to me. That said, our rep John H. has been a huge champion of this novel of novel of two girls in the Ozarks (atmosphere) who disappear a generation apart and the friend who discovers a possible connection (twists). Publishers Weekly called this "an outstanding first novel, replete with suspense, crisp dialogue, and vivid Ozarks color and atmosphere."

There was a bit of talking up by customers of Benjamin Black at Denise Mina's event. His newest (and note that this is John Banville, writing as Benjaming Black, channeling Raymond Chandler) is The Black-Eyed Blonde (Henry Holt) which finds the comparable Philip Marlowe investigating the disappearance of the former lover of a beautiful client, a young heiress, And yes, this turns into the most difficult and dangerous case of his career, or so I'm told. Mark Lawson in The Guardian notes that Banville has trashed the mystery genre as "cheap" in festivals and interviews, but he's definitely hooked on the 40 ouncers now, and is said to bring a literary sensibility to this genre of new books by dead crime writers.

While we're speaking of crime (and we seem to be speaking of it for every book profiled today), we return to more classic genre with a non-classic job description for the protagonist in Elly Griffiths' The Outcast Dead (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), which follows the inadvertent investigations of Ruth Galloway, a forensic archeologist. This time she's in Norwich, where she uncovers the remains of a notorious Victorian murderer, at the same time a series of modern-day baby snatchings are panicking the town. Kirkus Reviews offers praise for installment six, noting how Griffiths "lovingly develops the complicated, often testy relationships between the continuing characters" though the unnamed reviewer does not its a shade less exciting than previous outings.

1 comment:

Interested Bystander said...

First of all, I'm not Scott Smith. But I'd argue he isn't as obscure / forgotten as you imply. A SIMPLE PLAN definitely has fans amongest even some younger booksellers and still helps position a certain type of smart, literary (lite) thriller with morally ambiguous undertones. If you've not read it, I highly recommend it as I think it stands up well even after more than two decades. (The 1998 movie was pretty good too). And THE RUINS, while not having held on as well, was a pretty big deal when it came out. No, neither is SECRET HISTORY. But honestly, SECRET HISTORY wasn't really SECRET HISTORY anymore until THE GOLDFINCH came out. So maybe one day...