New Title Radar – Week of Feb. 20

Two notable historical novels arrive next week: Jonathan Odell‘s The Healing, about a 75 year-old woman raised as a slave, and Kate Alcott‘s The Dressmaker, which gives the Titanic disaster a fresh twist. Usual suspects include Alex Berenson, Kim HarrisonJ.D. Robb, Matthew Pearl and Thomas Mallon. And in nonfiction, David Brock takes on Fox News and Roger Ailes, plus there’s a lavish guide to the art of the popular gaming series The Mass Universe.

Watch List

The Healing by Jonathan Odell (RH/Knopf/Nan A. Talese; Wheeler Large Print) is the story of a 75 year-old woman who was raised as a slave by the unstable wife of a plantation owner, and revives buried memories to heal a young girl abandoned to her care. Library Journal says, “bound to be compared to Kathryn Stockett’s best-selling The Help, this historical novel relegates its few white characters to distinctly minor status and probes complex issues of freedom and slavery, such as the dangers of an owner’s favor, making it more like Dolen Perkins-Valdez’s acclaimed Wench.” This one has also been mentioned favorably by librarians on our own Galley Chat.

The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott (RH/Doubleday; Center Point Large Print; Random House Audio) follows a young woman hired as a personal maid on the Titanic, who becomes involved in a public scandal after her mistress’s questionable actions are revealed by the shipwreck. Library Journal says it gives the tale of the Titanic “a fresh feel. Tess makes a praiseworthy heroine, [but] one fewer suitor might have been more plausible. Still, an engaging first novel.”

Flatscreen by Adam Wilson (Harper Perennial) follows the dangerous friendship and YouTube stardom of Eli Schwartz, who thinks of himself as a loser, and Seymour J. Kahn, a twisted former TV star who has purchased Eli’s old family home. Booklist gives it a starred review, calling it “a standout addition to a new generation of writers.” PW adds, “comedy and pathos abound in Seymours absurdist world…Fans of Jack Pendarvis and Sam Lipsyte will enjoy Wilsons fresh, fantastical perspective.”

Usual Suspects

Shadow Patrol by Alex Berenson (Putnam Adult; Wheeler Publishing; Penguin Audiobooks) is this Edgar-winning author’s sixth spy thriller starring ex-CIA operative John Wells. It focuses on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan who engage in drug smuggling while fighting the Taliban. Kirkus says, “the prose is airtight, the pacing is excellent and the phenomenal action sequences more than make up for minor weaknesses in the plot. Berenson’s highly enjoyable series continues with more of the rock-solid same.”

A Perfect Blood by Kim Harrison (Harper Voyager; Blackstone Audiobooks) is the 10th installment in the landmark urban fantasy series, and finds Rachel Morgan, a witch-turned-demon, at a crime scene involving a university student. LJ says: “Harrison’s colorful cast of supporting characters keeps the story moving among the fast-paced action scenes. Longtime fans will obviously be standing in line for this one. However, readers with any interest in urban fantasy can easily jump into the story.”

Celebrity in Death by J. D. Robb (Penguin/Putnam; Brilliance Audio) is the 35th Eve Dallas novel, which finds the Lieutenant at a party celebrating a film based on one of her cases, that suddenly turns into a crime scene. Kirkus says, “readers count on Robb to deliver the goods, and [this] will not disappoint. The plot is cleverly conceived, cinematically riveting, and sexily charming, and Eve is her usual no-nonsense self.”

The Technologists by Matthew Pearl (Random House; Random House Audio) is set at the close of the Civil War, as students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology form a secret society that is determined to find the truth behind a recent string of commercial disasters. LJ says, “Pearl has a special talent for making likable detectives out of historical figures, and for pulling compelling plotlines from biographies. Here, MIT and Harvard are brought to the foreground and so well depicted that they become historical characters in their own right. This thriller won’t disappoint Pearl’s many fans.”

Watergate by Thomas Mallon (RH/Pantheon; Blackstone Audiobooks) retells the story of the Watergate scandal from the perspectives of seven key characters, suggesting answers to some of the incident’s greatest unsolved mysteries. Although it’s not due for publication until Tuesday, it’s already racked up a number of newsstand reviews; The Washington Post (“imaginative political farce“); NYT (a “lively, witty drama“) and the L.A. Times (“It’s [the] human touches that ultimately make Watergate work.”)

Young Adult

Fever (Chemical Garden Series #2) by Lauren DeStefano (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers) returns to the dystopian worldbuilding, moral dilemmas and romantic possibilities of Wither but Kirkus says they “never heat up… [the characters’ constant running and hiding overshadow the interesting questions about the ethics of science, relationships, sexuality and power raised in the first book. Readers who want to know more about the causes and effects of the mysterious virus will have to wait for the third installment, purposefully set up by another rushed ending.”


The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (Millennium Trilogy Series #3) by Stieg Larsson (Knopf Publishing Group; Random House Large Print Publishing; Random House Audio) finally arrives in two paperback editions: a trade paperback edition with a 325K first printing, and a mass market edition with a 680K first printing.


The Fox Effect: How Roger Ailes Turned a Network into a Propaganda Machine by David Brock (RH/Anchor Books) is a catalogue of Fox News president Roger Ailes’ alleged misdeeds as head of the controversial network, written by Brock, the founder and CEO of Media Matters, and Rabin-Havt, the organization’s executive vice president, who say they were the object of personal attacks authorized by Ailes in retaliation for their organization’s critical coverage of Fox. Kirkus says, “worth reading for anyone who suspects Fox News of distorting the truth and is eager to spend hours sifting through the evidence.”

Art of the Mass Effect Universe by Various (Dark Horse Comics) is a companion to The Mass Effect science fiction gaming series, with concept art and commentary by BioWare on the games’ characters, locations, vehicles, weapons, and more.

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