January Releases

Elmore Leonard's latest, When the Women Come Out to Dance, is a collection of short sketches that feature strong female characters in trouble. "Sparks" describes a flirtation between an insurance investigator and a widow who has apparently burned down her own mansion in the Hollywood hills. The riveting title piece involves a rich Pakistani surgeon's wife, a former stripper who's terrified that her playboy husband will have her killed once he gets bored with her. Hoping to knock him off first, she hires as a maid a Colombian woman rumored to have murdered her own abusive husband. "Fire in the Hole" finds two former co-workers pitted against one another in a deadly showdown: Boyd Crowder is a Bible-quoting neo-Nazi with a penchant for terrorist acts, and Raylan Givens is the U.S. marshal sent to shut him down. Leonard fans may wish for something meatier, but the razor-edged dialogue and brisk storytelling won't disappoint. (Morrow, $24.95 240p ISBN 0-06-008397-2)

"How many men could boast that they had married three different female versions of their father?" wonders the eponymous B, the failed memoirist at the center of this new novel by Jonathan Baumbach (Reruns). B has three wives, four children and several books to his credit, but what should be a rich and eventful life fails to crystallize on the page—and as he relates his romantic and literary misadventures, attempting to shape them into a story, the line between fiction and autobiography becomes only more hazy. There are shades of Bellow and Roth in the themes and metafictional conceit of this sly, diverting read. (Low Fidelity Press, $13 paper 200p ISBN 0-9723363-0-3)