The #1 choice by librarians for the January 2017 LibraryReads list is The Girl Before by JP Delaney (PRH/Ballantine; RH Audio), a domestic psychological suspense novel.
“A page turner that is sure to be a hit. Each chapter alternates between two time periods. Back “then,” there is Emma, looking for the perfect flat. Her agent suggests One Folgate Street, built by architect Edward Monkford. In present day, Jane, a single thirty-something also ends up on Folgate Street. Both women learn the sinister history of the property and readers won’t know who to trust as Delaney’s debut clutches you by the throat and won’t let you go.” — Kara Kohn, Plainfield Public Library District, Plainfield, IL
Additional Buzz: Also a hit with our GalleyChatters, Jennifer Winberry, Hunterdon County Library (NJ) described it as “a high speed ride through a tale of obsessions with twists and turns that don’t stop until after the final page is turned.” The debut, which is being marketed as the first book under a “pseudonym of an author who has written award-winning fiction under other names,” was sold to Universal in a hotly contested 2015 bidding war, reports Deadline Hollywood. Ron Howard is set to direct the project. Deadline also reports that bestselling author Tony Strong is the suspected author.
It leads a list filled wit debuts including:
The Bear and the Nightingale, Katherine Arden (PRH/Del Rey; RH Audio; OverDrive Sample).
“We journey to 14th century Russia where the old ways still hold sway in the outlying villages and spirits and magical creatures are real. When Vasya’s stepmother and the new village priest try to end the pagan offerings, it us up to Vasya to stop the Bear from awakening. Can she find the strength to accept who she really is and protect her family and village? This magical story captivated me and pulled me fully into that world. The last third and the pulse-pounding finish had me on the edge of my seat.” — Joseph Jones, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Cuyahoga, OH
Additional Buzz: The hot debut Fantasy was one of our PRH EarlyReads Authors, which we featured in a chat in September. Also a GalleyChat pick. Andrienne Cruz (Azusa City Library, CA) said it will “cast a spell over adult readers.”
The Dry, Jane Harper (Macmillan/Flatiron Books).
“’Luke lied. You lied. Be at the funeral.’ These eight words will change everything for Agent Aaron Falk, summoned by the father or his former best friend. It appears Luke went on a rampage, murdering his wife, son, and then himself. At Luke’s father’s request, Aaron agrees to look into the murders/suicide and learns that the small town has long held grudges and secrets that may be best kept hidden in this atmospheric, chilling complex tale of anger and revenge.” — Jennifer Winberry, Hunterdon County Library, Flemington, NJ
Additional Buzz: Another big debut of the month, it is also a GalleyChat title. Vicki Nesting of St. Charles Parish Library (LA) said it was a “brilliantly plotted and atmospheric mystery.” Reese Witherspoon optioned film rights in advance of publication reports Deadline Hollywood. In draft form, the novel won the 2015 Victorian Premier Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript, netting the author $15,000 in prize money. A past winner of the same prize was The Rosie Project, Graeme Simsion (Simon & Schuster, 2013).
The Second Mrs. Hockaday, Susan Rivers (Algonquin Books).
“Placidia is seventeen when she marries Major Hockaday, an older man and recent widower with a child. After he is recalled to service in the Civil War, she must manage his farm and take care of his son and all with little help. When he returns, it is to find that she has given birth, and said to have murdered the child. Told in journal entries, letters, and court documents, we learn about her life and the answers to this puzzling and horrifically charged event. A dark book that highlights the amazing strength so many of these women had to develop.” — Diane Scholl, Batavia Public Library, Batavia, IL
Additional Buzz: This debut is also a GalleyChat title. Vicki Nesting weighs in with “For fans of epistolary novels, this is a compelling and moving story.” Rivers is an award-winning playwright.
Heartstone, Elle Katharine White (HC/Harper Voyager).
“A fun take on Pride and Prejudice in a fantasy setting. Merrybourne Manor has a gryphon infestation and has contracted with a band of Riders to kill them. As you can imagine, the main Rider is a little haughty and our heroine has a long memory. Familiar trials and tribulations occur with some detailed world-building, laying the groundwork for a sequel. Good for readers who don’t mind literary re-imaginings, love P&P, and Anne McCaffery’s Pern novels.” — Jenna Persick, Chester County Library, Exton, PA
Additional Buzz: Another of the early debuts of the year, it is a RT Top Pick (subscription may be required).