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
The Madonna of Notre Dame

Alexis Ragougneau, trans. from the French by Katherine Gregor. New Vessel, $15.95 trade paper (180p) ISBN 978-1-939931-39-9

Near the start of playwright Ragougneau’s arresting first novel, a beautiful young woman dressed in white in Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral falls to the floor from a bench where she appeared to be praying. Witnesses assume that she fainted, but in fact she’s been dead for hours. The subsequent medical examination of the unidentified victim shows that she’s been strangled; in addition, someone has tampered with the body in an unusual way. Thibault, an angelic-looking young man accused of the crime, admits that he hit the woman but didn’t kill her. After Thibault commits suicide, deputy magistrate Claire Kauffmann, who believes Thibault was innocent, and Fr. Francois Kern set out to find the real killer. Claire must navigate the murky waters of a male-dominated field, while harboring memories of a painful past, and Father Kern suffers from a debilitating, painful illness that has stunted his growth, and his loneliness is palpable. Both desperately want to see justice done, and the devastating truth proves that the line between good and evil isn’t always so clear. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/26/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
A Twist of the Knife

Peter James. Pan (IPG, dist.), $14.95 trade paper (448p) ISBN 978-1-4472-1210-2

Fans of British author James’s novels featuring Brighton policeman Roy Grace (You Are Dead, etc.) will welcome this collection of 30 stories, both reprints and new material. In “The Stamp of a Criminal,” which recounts Grace’s first case, the newly minted detective constable, accompanied by mentor Det. Sgt. Bill Stoker, shows his cleverness while investigating a home burglary. Years later, a series of crimes distract Grace, now a detective superintendent, from his Christmas shopping in “Santa Drops In.” Other tales feature supernatural elements, such as “Christmas Is for the Kids” and the autobiographical “My First Ghost.” The versatile James displays a macabre sense of humor in “Venice Aphrodisiac,” about a passionate young couple, the husband’s later disillusionment, and the wife’s ultimate tribute to her late spouse. This volume includes all the stories published in James’s e-book collections, Short Shockers One and Short Shockers Two. Agent: Carole Blake, Blake Friedman Literary (U.K.). (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/26/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
Dead or Alive

Ken McCoy. Severn, $29.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8633-0

Det. Insp. Septimus “Sep” Black, the hero of this middling series launch set in Yorkshire from McCoy (Mad Carew), is having a bad week. He’s convinced that a dirty cop has relocated just to bring him down, his estranged wife has accused him of beating her and won’t let him see their young daughter, a politician accused of child abuse has died while in his custody, and a powerful criminal has kidnapped two children. After a violent outburst in a bar, Sep asks for help and is sent to a psychiatric ward. He’s sure things can’t get worse, but they do, and when he’s released, he goes undercover to find those kids and clear his name. McCoy hits every note for a gritty procedural, including two sadistic henchmen that crack wise and kill with impunity, but this everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach never rises above cliché, and the violence often feels gratuitous. Disjointed storytelling—Sep goes from just taking a break from his marriage to never really getting along with his wife in a hot minute—further mars this ho-hum effort. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/26/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
Death in Profile

Guy Fraser-Sampson. Urbane (IPG, dist.), $14.95 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-1-910692-93-6

Fraser-Sampson, the author of the nonfiction The Mess We’re In: Why Politicians Can’t Fix Financial Crises, blends the grittiness and authenticity of modern-day police procedurals with the style of golden age detective fiction in this entertaining but flawed first volume of the Hampstead Murders series. North London police officers struggle to identify and apprehend a serial killer who has been terrifying the Hampstead populace for nearly 18 months. After Supt. Simon Collison assumes command of the floundering investigation and turns to an amateur profiler for help, suspects are soon identified—but internal leaks, a love triangle among team members, and a bizarre mental breakdown (the profiler believes he’s Dorothy L. Sayers’s fictional detective Lord Peter Wimsey) threaten to derail the arrest and prosecution of the elusive killer. An impressively knotty story line and numerous references to the style and wit of golden age detective stories compensate for two-dimensional characters, particularly the investigators. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/26/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
FantasticLand

Mike Bockhoven. Skyhorse, $24.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-5107-0944-7

Bockoven’s first novel, a high-concept riff on The Lord of the Flies and The Warriors, has plenty of gonzo potential but degenerates into a polemic against social media and millennials. When North Florida’s FantasticLand theme park is cut off thanks to a storm, the workers in the various areas, such as Pirate Cove and World’s Circus, have a decent amount of supplies at first, but each area soon devolves into its own faction (with names that include the Deadpools for the folks from the superhero area, Mole Men for maintenance workers in the tunnels, and Shopgirls for the retail employees), and things get bloody extremely quickly. Told in the format of a series of interviews conducted by a reporter, each narrative slowly introduces the core characters, most notably Pirate Cove employee Brock Hockney and Sam Garliek, the manager on duty at the time who goes power-mad when the disaster strikes. Cookie-cutter narrative voices and characters who are generally uninteresting and unlikable make for a ride that’s less than thrilling. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/26/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
Permanent Sunset: A Sabrina Salter Mystery

C. Michele Dorsey. Crooked Lane, $25.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-62953-770-2

Sabrina Salter’s enormous charm, as well as her grace under duress, is on full display in Dorsey’s outstanding sequel to 2015’s No Virgin Island. Duress comes in waves as she and her partner in her rental property business on St. John in the Virgin Islands, Henry Whitman, prepare a recent acquisition, the ostentatious Villa Nirvana, for a splashy wedding. Sean Keating, scion of Keating Construction, is set to marry the beautiful, business-savvy, yet mysterious Elena Rodriguez. Tensions naturally run high as Elena resists signing the proffered prenuptial contract. The night before the big day, everybody goes to bed angry. The next morning, but for the absence of the bride, everything is picture-perfect with a profusion of gardenias and twinkle lights timed to alight amid the sunset ceremony. Sabrina eventually finds the bride floating dead in the ocean, and the ensuing mystery, chockablock with unanticipated plot twists, complex supporting characters, and terrific dialogue, makes for mighty good page-turning fun. Agent: Paula Munier, Talcott Notch Literary Agency. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/26/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Singularity Race

Mark de Castrique. Poisoned Pen, $26.95 (282p) ISBN 978-1-4642-0599-6

This suspenseful thriller from de Castrique (Double Cross of Time) doesn’t follow through on the big ideas behind its clever premise. Rusty Mullins, a former Secret Service agent, is on a private assignment protecting Chinese neuroscientist Lisa Li and her seven-year-old nephew at a scientific conference in Washington, D.C. When a team of professional assassins attacks the conference, many people die, but Mullins manages to save Dr. Li. Mullins is approached by Robert Brentwood, a billionaire tech mogul who’s financing research toward the singularity, that linchpin moment when computer-programmed artificial intelligence will become self-aware. Dr. Li is the key to developing the necessary safeguards against AI self-awareness that might doom humankind, and Brentwood wants Mullins to protect her. Apollo, the AI program, however, comes across as little more than an efficient search engine. The breathless climax suggests that humanity will always remain its own greatest threat. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/26/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
Blood on the Tracks

Barbara Nickless. Thomas & Mercer, $14.95 trade paper (436p) ISBN 978-1-5039-3686-7

Part mystery, part antiwar story, Nickless’s engrossing first novel, a series launch, introduces Sydney Rose Parnell, a veteran of the Iraq War who handled the disposal of bodies and is now a railway cop. Tucker Rhodes (aka the Burned Man) suffered severe burns in Iraq. He has settled in L.A., where he has cut himself off from everyone, even former lover Elise Hensley, a family friend of Sydney’s. When Elise calls Tucker declaring that she loves him despite his disfigurements, he returns home to Denver only to find her savagely knifed to death. With much evidence pointing to his guilt, Tucker implores Sydney to prove his innocence, aware that the inevitable delving into their shared war history may well upset the life Sydney has built for herself. Nickless skillfully explores the dehumanizing effects resulting from the unspeakable cruelties of wartime as well as the part played by the loyalty soldiers owe to family and each other under stressful circumstances. Agent: Bob Diforio, D4EO Literary Agency. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 08/26/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Murder of a Queen Bee: A Henny Penny Farmette Mystery

Meera Lester. Kensington, $25 (288p) ISBN 978-1-61773-913-2

Lester ticks all the boxes in her pleasant but formulaic second Henny Penny Farmette mystery (after 2015’s A Beeline to Murder). After herbalist Fiona Mary Sullivan fails to show up for lunch with farmer Abigail Mackenzie, Abby is horrified to learn that Fiona has been discovered dead in a burning car in the woods outside Las Flores, Calif. The coroner’s report concludes that Fiona was dead before someone placed her in the car. Lester overdoes the detail about the wine-country locale, beekeeping, gardening, cooking, Abby’s fetching outfits, and her complicated love life. Distracting Abby, a former cop, from her investigation are her bad-boy ex, her strong and silent widowed neighbor, and Fiona’s charming, hunky brother. In the end, Abby doesn’t have too much trouble identifying who killed Fiona. This one is for lovers of cozy mysteries that are heavy on the cozy and light on the mystery. Agent: Paula Munier, Talcott-Notch Literary Agency. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/26/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
Mary Russell’s War and Other Stories of Suspense

Laurie R. King. Poisoned Pen, $15.95 trade paper (324p) ISBN 978-1-4642-0733-4

Fans of King’s Mary Russell novels, which starting with 1994’s The Beekeeper’s Apprentice chart her relationship with Sherlock Holmes, will welcome this collection, which includes extracts from the novels, short stories, and the diary that Mary kept as a teen during WWI. Readers will learn about Mary’s wily Uncle Jake, Holmes’s marriage proposal, the couple’s eccentric wedding, and Mycroft Holmes’s political activities. The one selection original to this volume, “Stately Holmes,” is a Christmas tale, complete with a gaggle of children. The heart of the book, however, is Mary’s wartime diary, punctuated by headlines announcing war casualties and zeppelin attacks and interspersed with Mary’s not always kind assessment of the periodical installments of The Valley of Fear, the last Holmes novel. The text is richly illustrated with period photos. Admirers of Mary Russell will be pleased with what amounts to an autobiography of her early years, but those expecting the “suspense” promised in the subtitle may feel misled. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/26/2016 | 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.