New Title Radar: June 18 – 24

Next week brings two buzzed-about debuts: a thriller by Jean Zimmerman set in 1663 New Amsterdam and Carol Rifka Brunt‘s tale of two sisters in the age of AIDS. Plus two authors with growing followings are back: Leila Meacham with a sprawling Texas soap opera, and Linda Castillo with the fourth installment in her Amish series. Usual suspects include Janet EvanovichTerry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter, and Ridley Pearson. In nonfiction, Rachel Swarns delves into First Lady Michelle Obama’s ancestry and David Maraniss explores President Obama’s background and character development.

Watch List

The Orphanmaster by Jean Zimmerman (Penguin/Viking Books; Penguin Audiobooks; Thorndike Large Print) is a debut historical thriller set in New Amsterdam in 1663, in which a young Dutch woman and an English spy investigate the disappearances of a handful of orphans. Booklist calls it a “compulsively readable, heartbreaking, and grisly mystery set in a wild, colonial America will appeal to fans of Robert McCammon’s fast-paced and tautly suspenseful Mister Slaughter and Eliot Pattison’s Bone Rattler.” USA Today listed it as the top summer reading pick for the mystery/suspense category. Zimmerman was the first author in our Penguin Debut Authors program (read the chat & hear a podcast Q&A with the author here). She will also be featured on the ALTAFF Historical Fiction panel at ALA (Sat., 10:30 to noon)

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt (RH/Dial Press) is a debut novel about two sisters who lose their uncle in the mid-’80s as AIDS is on the rise, and must come to terms with “love that’s too big to stay in a tiny bucket. Splashing out in the most embarrassing way possible.” On our GalleyChat, one librarian called it the “best book I’ve ever read.” Like the previous titles, it is one of BookPage‘s Most-Buzzed About Debuts. The Minneapolis Star Tribune lists it among their eight books for summer: “Carol Rifka Brunt establishes herself as an emerging author to watch.  Tell the Wolves I’m Home will undoubtedly be this summer’s literary sleeper hit.”

Tumbleweeds by Leila Meacham (Hachette/Grand Central; Hachette Audio; Thorndike Large Print) is the sprawling story of a love triangle between two high school football heroes and the orphan girl they befriend, who are separated by a teenage prank gone awry and an accidental pregnancy, with far-reaching consequences. LJ says, “Readers who love epic sagas that span a couple of generations will enjoy this soap opera tale of young love, betrayal, and living a life that might not have a happy ending.” 125,000-copy first-printing. One-day laydown.

Gone Missing: A Thriller by Linda Castillo (Macmillan/Minotaur) is the fourth Amish mystery featuring Chief of Police Kate Burkholder, and is set during Rumspringa — when Amish teens are allowed to experience life outside the community, a practice that always fascinates outsiders. PW says, “Castillo ratchets up the tension nicely before the disconcerting ending.” Castillo’s previous titles have hit the NYT hardcover list, but only the extended (highest, #21). Holds are heavy in some libraries. The publisher is putting extra marketing push behind this one.

Usual Suspects

Wicked Business: A Lizzy and Diesel Novel by Janet Evanovich (RH/Bantam; RH Audio; Thorndike Large Print) finds Salem, Massachusetts pastry chef Lizzy Tucker once again drawn into solving a mystery with her sexy but off-limits partner Diesel – this time involving an ancient Stone believed by some to be infused with the power of lust.

The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter (Harper) is the Discworld creator’s first novel in 30 years to be set in a new universe – this time comprised of an infinite number of parallel Earths, all devoid of humans, which will be explored by the gifted Joshua Valiente, employee of the Black Corporation. PW says, “the slow-burning plot plays second fiddle to the fascinating premise, and the authors seem to have more fun developing backstory and concepts than any real tension. An abrupt conclusion comes as an unwelcome end to this tale of exploration.”

The Risk Agent by Ridley Pearson (Putnam Adult; Brilliance Audio) is a thriller about a Chinese National who runs into intrigue while working for an American-owned in Shanghai (where the author lived with his family in 2008-2009). LJ says, “Famous for his plotting and attention to details, Pearson is off to a great start with his compelling and multilayered new protagonists. His many fans as well as readers who love international thrillers won’t be disappointed.”


American Tapestry: The Story of the Black, White, and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obama by Rachel L. Swarns (HarperCollins/Amistad) is the story of the First Lady’s lineage, starting with slave girl Melvinia in the mid 1800s in Jonesboro, Georgia, the mother of Dolphus Shields, Michelle Obama’s maternal great-great-grandfather.  Kirkus says, “Swarns provides numerous tales of heartbreak and achievement, many of which essentially make up the American story. Elegantly woven strands in a not-so-easy-to-follow whole, but tremendously moving.” 100,000-copy first printing.

Barack Obama: The Story by David Maraniss (Simon & Schuster; S&S Audio) is a multi-generational biography of Barack Obama and his family, based on hundreds of interviews, including with President Obama – written by the author and associate editor of the Washington Post.  PW says, “Obama’s story here is interior and un-charismatic, but it makes for a revealing study in character-formation as destiny. The book ends as Obama prepares to enter Harvard Law.” One-day laydown.

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