New Title Radar – Week of Jan. 2

A rush of new titles start landing with the new year. Watch for BBC writer David Snodin‘s historical featuring Shakespeare’s Iago and Thrity Umrigar‘s novel of Indian college friends reunited years later in the U.S.. Usual suspects include Janet Evanovich, James Patterson with coauthor Maxine Paetro, Matthew Reilly and Val McDermid. Plus the latest from YA author Sara Shepard, a handful of movie tie-ins, and a memoir of caretaking and grief by the late Patrick Swayze’s wife, Lisa Niemi. 

Watch List

Iago by David Snodin (Macmillan/Henry Holt) is a historical novel that begins where Shakespeare’s Othello leaves off, and focuses on the complex villian and his powerful accuser. LJ calls it a ” vivid though long novel, which is filled with all the drama, intrigue, and violence of Renaissance Italy–and even a little romance on the side.” On the other hand, Kirkus says, “Iago’s character never really deepens: We learn plenty about his capacity for viciousness, but the climactic revelations about his past history feel underwhelming. A likable page-turner about love, war and conspiracy in the early 16th century. Just don’t expect Shakespeare.”

The World We Found by Thrity Umrigar (HarperCollins; HaperLuxe) finds four friends who attended Bombay College in the 70’s reunited when one woman becomes ill, in a tale that straddles India and the U.S. PW says, “though none of the major story elements Umrigar employs are remotely fresh, her characters make this a rewarding novel.”

Usual Suspects

Love in a Nutshell by Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly (Macmillan/St. Martins; Macmillan audio) is a standalone novel set in a small town microbrewery, featuring out-of-work, just-separated Kate Appleton, and is a collaboration between the bestselling author and the president of the Romance Writers of America. Booklist says, “Evanovich is known for her humor, and she and Kelly skillfully combine comedy with romance and suspense to make a story sure to please readers.”

Private: #1 Suspect by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro (Hachette/Little, Brown; Hachette AudioHachette Large Print) is the second novel featuring Morgan, the founder of an L.A. investigative firm, who is framed for the murder of his ex-girlfriend. PW calls it “lackluster,” and complains that “unrelated subplots, including a serial killer who leaves his victims in different locations of a hotel chain, serve only to add to the books length. An evil identical twin doesnt help with plausibility.”

Gun Games (Decker/Lazarus Series #20) by Faye Kellerman (HarperCollins/Morrow; HarperLuxe; Thorndike) finds the Deckers investigating the suicide of a high school student, while rescuing 15-year-old Gabe Whitman, a brilliant musical prodigy whose father earns his living as a pimp. PW finds this one “subpar” for the series.

Halo: Primordium: Book Two of the Forerunner Saga by Greg Bear (Macmillan/Tor; Macmillan Audio) is set in the wake of apparent self-destruction of the Forerunner empire, as two humans are washed up on very strange shores.

Scarecrow Returns by Matthew Reilly (S & S) is the action-packed fourth title in the Scarecrow series, by the internationally popular author of Seven Deadly Wonders. Booklist says, “pitting his heroes against polar bears, ranks of crazed berserkers, and colorful henchmen like Bad Willy, Big Jesus, and Typhoon, Reilly ups the ante on swashbucklers like Clive Cussler and Ted Bell by dishing out page after page of truly nonstop, explosive action, from cover to cover. Does he pull it off? Absolutely!”

The Retribution: A Tony Hill & Carol Jordan Novel by Val McDermid (Atlantic Monthly) is the seventh thriller in the Tony Hill series, which pairs the British clinical psychologist with his long-term work partner and sometimes lover, Detective Chief Inspector Carol Jordan as they pursue Vance, the TV talk show host responsible for murdering 17 teenage girls in 1997’s The Wire in the Blood. PW says, “the emotional wedge that the sadistic Jacko is able to drive between Tony and Carol makes this one of McDermids strongest efforts.”

Young Adult

Pretty Little Secrets by Sara Shepard (HarperTeen) is a “special bonus book” set in the lost period between books four and five of the Pretty Little Liars series, the winter break of the girls’ junior year, as told from the point of view of stalker Ali. The new season of ABC’s Pretty Little Liars begins Jan. 2.

Movie Tie-Ins

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami (RH/Vintage) ties in to the movie opening January 6, adapted and directed by Vietnamese filmmaker Anh Hung Tran. It will appear in a limited number of theaters, but fans of Murakami’s 1Q84 are likely to be drawn to this tie-in. Published in Japan in 1987, it was the author’s first major hit in that country, but wasn’t released here until 2000, after the success of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill (RH/Vintage; Blackstone Audio) is a classic ghost story about a lawyer who travels to remote English village and finds the ghost of a scorned woman terrorizing the locals – and ties in into the gothic horror movie remake, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Janet McTeer, which opens February 3.

The Firm by John Grisham (RH/Dell) is a reissue of the original 1993 thriller. It’s the basis for an NBC TV series set ten years after the book. The series launches on January 8 and 9, before it moves to its regular Thursday night time slot.


Worth Fighting For: Love, Loss, and Moving Forward by Lisa Niemi  (S&S/Atria; Centerpoint Large Print) is a memoir by actor Patrick Swayze’s wife, who co-wrote her husband’s memoir, The Time of My Life, and now reflects on caring for her husband during his final months before he died of pancreatic cancer in 2009. PW says, “Niemi writes movingly of trying to keep a positive outlook, staying organized with drugs, treatments, and foods for her husband, employing relatives as helpers and researchers, and, most of all, using the time she and Swayze had left together to enjoy and appreciate each other. Its a heartfelt account, both brave and honorable.”

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