Roberts Rules

Nora Roberts, the queen of romantic fiction, tops the Publishers Weekly Hardcover Fiction bestseller list this week with Whiskey Beach, a standalone featuring an unusual romantic hero: a man believed to have murdered his adulterous wife. Though there’s not enough evidence to convict him, suspicion hangs over his head, so he flees to the family house on Whiskey Beach and soon falls for its beautiful housekeeper. The combination of romance and suspense is a powerful one, and Roberts blends them with a deft hand, keeping the pages (all 500 of them) turning.

It’s no surprise to see Roberts’s name on the bestseller list. According to her Web site, since 1999, every one of her books—both the romantic titles written as Nora Roberts and the suspense fiction she writes as J.D. Robb—has hit the charts, frequently debuting at #1. Nielsen BookScan shows three Roberts titles with cumulative million-copy sales since Nielsen began collecting data in 2001, and 14 others that have broken the half-million mark. She’s published over 200 books, many with multiple editions. Do the math and you might be surprised that the streets aren’t paved with Roberts novels.

And Roberts is one of those rare megapopular authors whose books earn acclaim from reviewers as well as selling like gangbusters. PW gave Whiskey Beach a starred review, calling it “spellbinding” and adding that Roberts “enthralls the reader with enigmatic characters and effortless plotting from the first page of this masterfully crafted novel.” Roberts’s fellow authors love her work, too: the Romance Writers of America have granted her books 14 RITA Awards since 1992. —Rose Fox

All About Eve

“I was in fourth grade and I wrote a little story. I thought, this is so neat and I’m having such a good time. I went down to the principal’s office, which was a good thing this time.” A good thing, indeed, said megaselling author Iris Johansen in a recent interview. In a distinguished career that’s covered some 30 years and 80+ books, Johnansen has run the gamut from category romances to historicals, from series to standalones, and—beginning in 1996 with her first thriller, Ugly Duckling—an impressive roster of crime fiction titles.

But it was Johansen’s 1998 The Face of Deception, which introduced a series starring Eve Duncan, that grabbed readers’ attention big time. Duncan was a forensic sculptor whose mission was to bring closure to families whose loved ones had vanished. She knew their anguish—her own daughter, Bonnie, was taken from her at age seven. After 10 Duncan bestsellers, it was only recently that the mystery was explained and Eve could begin her journey to peace. In 2011, St. Martin’s had great success with a Johansen trilogy that comprised Eve, Quinn, and Bonnie, all published within six months, which finally revealed what happened to Bonnie, a question that fans had been waiting more than a decade to see resolved. Now, says her publisher, 2013 will be the year of Eve Duncan, with the release of three interconnected thrillers starring Eve in an adventure that Iris promises “will take her places we’ve never seen her go before.” The first book, Taking Eve, is off to a terrific start, landing at #3 on this week’s Hardcover Fiction list with sales of 12,220, as reported by Nielsen BookScan. Next up is July’s Hunting Eve, with Silencing Eve completing the trilogy on October 15.—Dick Donahue

Happiness and Wellness (and Fun!)

Daphne Oz, cohost of ABC’s popular lifestyle show The Chew and daughter of the famed Mehmet Oz, M.D., enters the Hardcover Nonfiction list at #10 with her latest, Relish: An Adventure in Food, Style, and Everyday Fun. A trained chef and certified holistic health coach, Oz (author of the bestseller The Dorm Room Diet) covers the full wellness spectrum. In addition to recipes, she offers detailed suggestions for beautifying self and home (on a budget), and balancing career, relationships, and downtime. Readers will find recipes for banana-pecan buttermilk pancakes, strawberry cake with caramel fleur de sel whipped-cream frosting, and spiced winter wine, as well as instructions on how to hang a picture, and proper breathing techniques. Oz’s media blitz has included interviews on the View, the Rachael Ray Show, the Wendy Williams Show, the Dr. Oz Show (naturally), multiple radio appearances, and features in Cosmopolitan and Shape. Over the summer, expect to see Oz in issues of People, Seventeen, Marie Claire, Reader’s Digest, and Women’s Health. In late April, Oz met readers at Bookends in Ridgewood, N.J., Book Revue in Huntington, N.Y., at Manhattan and Beverly Hills branches of the boutique Theory, and at Barnes & Noble in Glendale, Calif. In early May, she will sign books at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville, Ill.—Jessamine Chan

‘Steam Train’ Makes Tracks

In 2011, author Sherri Duskey Rinker and illustrator Tom Lichtenheld proved that construction vehicles and bedtime are a bestselling combination with the picture book Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site. It looks as though trains (especially trains that are staffed by energetic crews of animals) are equally well suited to end-of-day reading, as the collaborators’ Steam Train, Dream Train hits our Children’s Picture Books list at #2. For the second week in a row, Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site has returned to the Picture Books list, down at #23, in its 54th appearance.

Rinker and Lichtenheld recently completed a seven-city tour for the book, which started with an event at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville, Ill., earlier this month and continued with solo and joint appearances at bookstores in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Antonio, Minneapolis, and Cincinnati. As part of the tour, Rinker and Lichtenheld also visited the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books last weekend, where they got into the theme of the book by dressing as train engineers for their Saturday-morning reading at the festival. Chronicle, which published both picture books, currently has 130,000 copies of Steam Train, Dream Train in print. PW’s starred review of the book called it “a go-to goodnight story for train- and animal-loving preschoolers.”—John Sellers

Lost in the Forest

Philip Kerr’s A Man Without Breath, his ninth Bernie Gunther novel, debuts at #14 on the Hardcover Fiction list. In March 1943, the hard-boiled anti-Nazi Berlin cop, now attached to the Wehrmacht War Crimes Bureau, travels from Berlin to the Eastern Front to investigate mass graves of Polish officers discovered in the Katyn Forest outside Smolensk. Josef Goebbels, seeking a propaganda coup after the German Sixth Army’s surrender at Stalingrad the month before, is keen to pin the atrocity on the Soviets. As Gunther rubs shoulders with aristocratic Prussian officers disillusioned with Hitler, he also gets on the track of a vicious serial killer targeting German military personnel. As usual, a beautiful woman complicates his efforts.

Field Gray, the seventh Bernie Gunther novel, was a finalist for an Edgar Award for best hardcover fiction. Kerr is also the author of the young adult series Children of the Lamp. He lives in London.

In February, Kerr traveled to the Winter Institute in Kansas City, Mo., to participate as a featured guest. His first ever national TV appearance in the U.S. took place April 22 on CBS’s The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, in which he and Ferguson celebrated their joint heritage as Scotsmen. His tour for A Man Without Breath has been twice as large as any of his other American tours—17 public events in 14 days.—Peter Cannon