Subscriber-Only Content; You must be a PW subscriber to access the backissue database. PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital edition via our app or online. For more information on PW's new integrated subscription plan, click here. If you are currently a PW subscriber, click "Login" for full access to the site (if you have not done so already, you will need to set up your account for the new system by going here), or click the "Subscribe" button to become a PW subscriber. Email service@publishersweekly.com with questions.

Login or Subscribe
The Tokyo Zodiac Murders

Soji Shimada, trans. from the Japanese by Ross and Shika Mackenzie. Pushkin Vertigo, $13.95 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-78227-138-3

First published in Japan in 1981, Shimada's intriguing first novel blends metafiction with a locked-room mystery. The title refers to a (fictional) series of sensational unsolved murders committed in 1936. In 1979, freelance illustrator Kazumi Ishioka, "a huge fan of mysteries," and his moody artist friend, Kiyoshi Mitarai, a self-styled amateur detective, are intent on unraveling the decades-old ritualistic killings. Painter Heikichi Umezawa left an eerily specific note about how he wanted to create the perfect woman, his Azoth, made up of the severed parts of his six daughters and nieces. These women, all with different astrological signs, ended up dead and buried all over Japan, but it was impossible for Umezawa to be the killer, because he had been dead for days himself, murdered in his locked studio. Kazumi and Kiyoshi spend a lot of time getting up to speed on the case by simply relating facts to each other. But once Shimada enters his own narrative as an investigator, the pace picks up considerably, and readers will understand why Shimada is considered one of Japan's most fiendishly clever crime writers. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 02/05/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
Noah's Wife

Lindsay Starck. Putnam, $27 (400p) ISBN 978-0-39915-923-7

Debut author Starck inventively imagines Old Testament stories within a contemporary setting. Noah and his photographer wife swap his city parish for ministry in an unnamed coastal town where it won't stop raining. The former reverend of the town committed suicide, but the remaining townspeople are a resilient, quirky bunch, including Mrs. McGinn, the outspoken diner owner and de facto mayor, and Mauro, a shopkeeper. Sometimes the naming is a bit obvious: Adam is the zookeeper, and Jonas is the weatherman who foresees doom. Noah begins the thankless tasks of restoring the dilapidated church and encouraging his parishioners, but doubts he is making any difference. His dutiful wife—never named—serves the community on his behalf, tending to displaced zoo animals and concocting a flood evacuation plan. The novel's 40 chapters cleverly reflect the 40 days of the Genesis flood. Minor characters, such as a widower who performs magic tricks, take on more and more significance, until eventually their sermonizing supplants Noah's former role. Meanwhile, his wife largely remains a cipher. Still, the biblical motifs of pairs, exodus, exile, prophecy, and hope echo strongly. Starck's bright voice should hold particular appeal for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Sara Gruen. Agent: Laura Langlie, Laura Langlie Agency. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 02/05/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Father: Made in Sweden, Part 1

Anton Svensson, trans. from the Swedish by Elizabeth Clark Wessel. Quercus, $26.99 (496p) ISBN 978-1-68144-540-3

Svensson, the pseudonym of screenwriter Stefan Thunberg and investigative journalist Anders Roslund, heartbreakingly blurs the line between criminal and victim in this stunning first of a two-novel series based on a sensational string of bank robberies in 1990s Sweden. The present-day action, which chronicles the meticulous planning and execution of the escalating heists carried out by three brothers and a friend (all under the age of 24 and based on Thunberg’s own family members), alternates with flashbacks, which focus on their dysfunctional family: the rage-filled father, Ivan, an emigré from the former Yugoslavia; the sensible mother, Britt-Marie; and their three sons, Leo, Vincent, and Felix. Ivan brings the savagery he learned during the Balkan civil wars into his sons’ childhood, shaping the men they would become, especially Leo, the oldest, who’s to be the architect of the amazingly successful robberies. Svensson highlights one of Scandinavia’s darkest secrets—the brutal, all-too-frequent domestic violence that inspired the Swedish title, Men Who Hate Women, for Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Readers will be eager to see how it all plays out in the sequel. Agent: Niclas Salomonsson, Salomonsson Agency (Sweden). (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/05/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
Forest of Memory

Mary Robinette Kowal. Tor.com, $9.99 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-0-7653-8791-2

In this brief but captivating epistolary story, set in a future Pacific Northwest where technology records all events and has rendered both natural memory and storytelling superfluous, Kowal (Word Puppets) evokes a world of interconnectedness. In a letter written on an ancient instrument known as a typewriter, Katya Gould recounts being kidnapped and forced to live without access to LiveConnect, the ubiquitous communication and memory-recording network. She attempts to describe her experience, alone and threatened by events she can neither understand nor examine in the way she is accustomed to. The letter is a unique document in the story’s world. In contrast to the perfection of recorded memories, Katya’s typing errors have been preserved, standing as testament to the very human source of the recollection. The fallibility of the narrator leaves the reader wondering what to believe about her remarkable story. Kowal has created a mystery that is satisfying and consistent, and this delightful and thought-provoking novella is exactly as long as it needs to be. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 02/05/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
Fortune Favors the Wicked

Theresa Romain. Kensington/Zebra, $7.99 mass market (368p) ISBN 978-1-4201-3865-8

Inspired by a real-life 19th-century lieutenant, Romain (A Gentleman’s Game) takes off on a delightful flight of fancy that puts visually impaired Royal Navy Lieutenant Benedict Frost in search of a fortune in stolen gold in the first of her Royal Reward series. Should he find it, the reward will be the basis for the dowry of his sister, Georgette. The hunt brings him to the doorstep of Charlotte Perry, the prodigal daughter of Rev. John Perry, in Derbyshire, England. She’s abandoned her position as a London courtesan and returned home in search of the stolen loot, planning to use the reward to start a new life. Charlotte has her own suspicions about the treasure’s specific location, and the identity of the thief as well. The duo quickly decide that their combined nine senses make them a stellar team in pursuit of riches and, later, love. Romain exercises her flair for unconventional Regency characters with this intriguing couple. Agent: Paige Wheeler, Folio Literary Management. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/05/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
Ninety-Nine Stories of God

Joy Williams. Tin House (Norton, dist.), $19.95 (168p) ISBN 978-1-941040-35-5

In Williams’s hands (The Visiting Privilege), a “story of God” can apparently be almost anything. Her slender new collection includes in its 99 stories pithy flash-fiction pieces about mothers, wives, writers, and dogs, anecdotes from the lives of Tolstoy and Kafka, newspaper clipping–like meditations on O.J. Simpson and Ted Kaczynski, conversational asides (the story “Museum” consists entirely of the line “We were not interested the way we thought we would be interested”), and, finally, actual stories about God—a particularly put-upon, bewildered God who seems to have lost the thread of his creation somewhere along the line. Here, the Holy Ghost is just as likely to alight in a slaughterhouse as to visit a demolition derby or appear to William James or Simone Weil, both of whom have their own brush with transcendence. The best of Williams’s humor, and her wonderful feel for characters, is present in pieces such as “Elephants Never Forget God,” in which James Agee describes a movie he’d like to make, or “Giraffe,” in which an aging gardener suddenly feels the presence of the divine. Somewhere in the neighborhood of Jim Harrison’s Letters to Yesenin, these stories are 100% Williams: funny, unsettling, and mysterious, to be puzzled over and enjoyed across multiple readings. (July)

Reviewed on 02/05/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
What Happened on Beale Street

Mary Ellis. Harvest House, $14.99 ISBN 978-0-7369-6171-4

Nicki and Nate Price, private investigators and cousins, follow up on a suspicious call from Danny, an old school friend and part-time saxophonist on Memphis’s Beale Street. When Danny is found dead, his sister, Isabella, urges the two PIs to investigate alongside the official police case. Nicki’s zealous enthusiasm earns her the censure of the local police, leaving Nate to do most of the work—which conveniently allows him to explore his attraction to Isabella. Emotionally fragile Isabelle, struggling with her own feelings for Nate, must also attempt to placate a disgruntled former suitor. In the meantime, Nicki uncovers a decades-old mystery involving heiresses and jewelry at the luxury hotel where they are staying. The two mysteries develop side by side, but somehow never overlap—a curious plotting strategy for veteran author Ellis (Midnight on the Mississippi). Each investigation, however, does showcase both the complex, well-developed personalities of the main characters as well as the world of jazz and blues that makes Memphis famous. This newest whodunit proves a worthy addition to the Secrets of the South Mysteries series. Agent: Mary Sue Seymour, The Seymour Agency (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/05/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
Miriam: A Treasures of the Nile Novel

Mesu Andrews. WaterBrook, $14.99 ISBN 978-1-60142-601-7

Andrews (The Pharaoh’s Daughter) offers her unique brand of in-depth Bible knowledge and storytelling flair in this tale of Miriam, sister of the famous Moses and Israel’s prophetess during the slavery of Israelites in Egypt. Miriam’s strong faith comes into question when she begins to experience her gentle husband, El-Shaddai, as Yahweh, God of Moses, as well as plagues and death. Before the story ends with the Israelites’ miraculous freedom after the final, horrible plague, Andrews offers readers a beautiful and nuanced picture of Miriam and other characters: Eleazer, Miriam’s beloved nephew and slave soldier; Taliah, his young and headstrong wife; Hoshea, Eleazer’s right-hand man, of gigantic faith; and even stubborn Pharaoh Ramesses himself. Andrews is gifted at bringing the past to life, and readers will thrill at God’s victory even as they struggle, as Miriam did, to understand God’s plan. This novel is biblical fiction at its finest. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/05/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
Like Never Before

Melissa Tagg. Bethany, $13.99 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-7642-1308-3

Following the death of his wife at the hands of a drunk driver, Logan Walker, former reporter at Maple Valley News in Maple Valley, Iowa, gave up small-town reporting for the bustle of Los Angeles, where he becomes a political consulting firm. When his old boss at Maple Valley News dies and leaves him the paper, Logan takes a trip to Iowa with the intent of selling the small operation, only to become distracted by news editor Amelia Bentley and her charming ways. Amelia has sought redemption in Maple Valley for the past three years, after a difficult divorce left her reeling. The arrival of Logan Walker and his sweet daughter, Charlie, starts to mend her broken heart as they pursue the mysterious story of Kendall Wilkins, the town’s oldest citizen, who died and left behind a secret. Amelia and Logan’s love forms quickly in the short time they are together, brought together by small-town charm and their knowledge that people matter more in life than fame. Tagg (From the Start) fashions another endearing, pithy story of finding love at the perfect time. Agent: Amanda Luedeke, MacGregor Literary (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/05/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
A Sudden Gust of Gravity

Laurie Boris. CreateSpace, $14.99 ISBN 978-1-5191-8193-0

Boris (In the Name of Love) executes a bit of misdirection in this stage-magic-themed romance. Waitress Christina Davenport becomes the assistant (and soon the girlfriend) of Boston street performer Reynaldo the Magnificent, despite her complicated family history with magic and her distaste for wearing revealing outfits and playing second fiddle. Though initially unwilling to accept the support of medical resident Devon Park, who sees something’s wrong when he brings his five-year-old nephew to the show, Christina reaches out to him for help once both realize they deserve better than their current dysfunctional relationships. Boris is delightful in interactions where relationships are working well, especially those among Devon, his nephew, and the rest of his loving, if demanding, Korean family, whose portrayal nicely counters “tiger mom” stereotypes. However, the tragic backstories of the characters come through as melodramatic and somehow distant, and Reynaldo’s possessive aggression toward Christine evokes only a vague disgust instead of being terrifying. (BookLife)

Reviewed on 02/05/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
X
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.