Log In

Subscriber-Only Content; You must be a PW subscriber to access the Table-of-Contents Database.

Get a digital subscription to Publishers Weekly for only $19.95/month.

Your subscription gives you instant access exclusive feature articles on notable figures in the publishing industry, he latest industry news, interviews of up and coming authors and bestselling authors, and access over 200,000 book reviews.

PW "All Access" site license members have access to PW's subscriber-only website content. To find out more about PW's site license subscription options please email: pw@pubservice.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (U.S.) or 1-818-487-2069 (all other countries), Monday-Friday between 5am and 5pm Pacific time.

The Benson Murder Case

S.S. Van Dine. Felony & Mayhem, $14.95 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-63194-168-9

Originally published in 1926, Van Dine’s dated first Philo Vance novel finds the immensely rich and erudite know-it-all breakfasting with his personal lawyer and dogsbody, S.S. Van Dine, at his Manhattan apartment when District Attorney John F.X. Markham comes to call. Markham invites the duo to accompany him to a murder scene. Stockbroker Alvin Benson, “a member of New York’s wealthy bohemian social set,” has been found dead at his home. That the victim is not sporting his false teeth or beautifully crafted toupee excites Vance’s interest, and he decides to help Markham resolve the murder. As he tells the D.A., “The only real clues are psychological—not material. Just as a sculptor... can accurately supply any missing integral part of a statue, so can the psychologist who understands the human mind supply any missing factor in a given human action.” Students of literary anthropology will enjoy the archaic and rather arch language, as well as the exhilaratingly absurd lengths the author goes to in order to establish Vance as “a man of unusual culture and brilliance.” A bestseller in its day, this reissue will have limited appeal to contemporary readers. (Dec.)

Reviewed on 12/14/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Boy

Tami Hoag. Dutton, $28 (416p) ISBN 978-1-101-98539-7

Early in bestseller Hoag’s thoughtful, character-driven sequel to 1998’s A Thin Dark Line, Nick Fourcade, a detective with the Bayou Breaux, La., police department, arrives at “a small, sad rectangle of cheap siding and asphalt shingles squatting on concrete block pilings in a yard of dirt and weeds.” Inside is the body of seven-year-old KJ Gauthier. The boy, dressed in Spider-Man pajamas, is lying in a pool of blood in his bedroom, stabbed some 10 times in the chest and face. His 27-year-old mother, Genevieve, escaped from the assailant and is in the hospital being questioned by Nick’s wife and fellow detective, Annie Broussard. The detectives wonder: Why kill the boy and let a witness go? The subsequent disappearance of 12-year-old Nora Florette, KJ’s babysitter, gives the members of the small community of Bayou Breaux even more reason to be fearful. Meanwhile, tension between Nick and the new sheriff of Partout Parish, Kelvin Dutrow, “an outsider, a usurper; too stiff, too arrogant, too brash,” complicates the investigation. Hoag keeps the twists and turns coming all the way to the shocking conclusion. Agent: Andrea Cirillo, Jane Rotrosen Agency. (Dec.)

Reviewed on 12/14/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Patricide of George Benjamin Hill

James Charlesworth. Arcade, $24.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-5107-3179-0

This sprawling, underwhelming debut from Charlesworth follows four grown children of an American billionaire as they hurtle toward an unorthodox reunion. Oil and fast food magnate George Benjamin Hill has two children from a first marriage—GB and Jamie—and two from a second—twins Max and Maddie. It’s been two decades since last contact with their unloving father, and now GB is a failed minor league baseball player living in Miami; Jamie spouts conspiracy theories on the streets of New York City, off his meds and struggling to decipher memory from delusion; Max lives a solitary life as a pilot in Alaska; and Maddie is a former Vegas showgirl trying to stay sober. After Max is inspired to gather his siblings during the aftermath of the terror attacks of September 11th, 2001, they plan a reunion intended to help them find closure with their troubled childhoods. Although the plot speeds toward this climactic reckoning, the novel suffers from muddled timelines and excess exposition. Charlesworth spends much effort establishing George Benjamin Hill as a symbol of American capitalism run amok—heading companies similar to McDonald’s, ExxonMobil, and Enron—but never delves into his psychology or early personal history to make him more than a foil to his children. Charlesworth’s debut has an intriguing concept marred by a hasty, underdeveloped plot. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 12/14/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
Choices

Edited by Mercedes Lackey. DAW, $7.99 mass market (368p) ISBN 978-0-7564-1468-9

In the latest collection of fantasy short stories set in the land of Valdemar (after Tales of Valdemar), fantasist Lackey and others create heroic stories of men and women using their magical gifts to help others. Most feature heralds with horselike companions who communicate through Mindspeak; others showcase healers and bards. In “Moving On” by Diana L. Paxton, Selaine uses her Fetching gift to pull an illness out of her mother, but when she tries to get a stolen coin back, she pulls the thief back, too. “Cloud Born” by Michele Lang shows that blind Cloudbrother can be a powerful herald who saves entire towns. In the moving final story by Lackey, “Woman’s Need Calls Me,” a sword that can only be wielded by women is called to a trans woman and magically gives her the body she longs for. This book may be hard to follow for readers unfamiliar with Valdemar and the Magewars, but the tales will be well received by longtime fans. Agent: Russ Galen, Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 12/14/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Shattered Sun

Rachel Dunne. Harper Voyager, $16.99 trade paper (496p) ISBN 978-0-06-242819-6

The Bound Gods trilogy concludes (following The Bones of the Earth) with the rise of evil Twin Gods in a now permanently dark world following their destruction of the sun. Following the Twins’ rise, the protagonists retreat underground to regain their strength. Keiro, once a nobody, now acts on the Twins’ behalf, but he must prove to their followers that he is worthy. Former priest Jorros, mages Anddyr and Aro, and warrior Rora lost a battle against the Twins, and many of Rora’s fellow warriors were killed. They return to Rora’s pack and are punished for the loss of lives in the battle. Priestess Vatri and swordsman Scal are building a following to fight the Twins, with Scal becoming known as the Nightbreaker now that the original gods, known as the Parents, have blessed him with a sword of fire and ice. Although the story is often bogged down with unnecessary detail and distracting subplots, series fans will be rewarded by the powerful conclusion. Agent: Matt Bialer, Donald Maass Literary. (Dec.)

Reviewed on 12/14/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
Who Killed the Fonz?

James Boice. Simon & Schuster, $26 (208p) ISBN 978-1-5011-9688-1

Set in 1984, this nostalgic reboot from Boice (The Good and the Ghastly) imagines the gang of TV’s Happy Days in middle age. Richard “Richie” Cunningham, one-time Hollywood screenwriting sensation, finds himself at a creative crossroads after a decade’s worth of professional setbacks. Struggling to finance his dream project, Richie must decide whether directing a Star Wars rip-off is worth keeping his career alive. Adding to his struggles, Richie learns that his friend Arthur Fonzarelli (aka the Fonz) is missing and presumed dead. The Fonz apparently lost control of his motorcycle while crossing a bridge and plunged into the river below back home in Milwaukee. Richie returns for the memorial service. With the body still missing and lingering questions surrounding the accident, Richie and old friends Ralph Malph and Potsie Weber suspect something more sinister happened and investigate. Notwithstanding some plot contrivances, readers yearning for simpler times will enjoy this trip down memory lane, which is as predictable and comforting as an episode of Happy Days. Agent: David Granger, Aevitas. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 12/14/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
Exhalation: Stories

Ted Chiang. Knopf, $25.95 (368p) ISBN 978-1-101-94788-3

Hugo- and Nebula-winner Chiang’s standout second collection (after 2002’s Stories of Your Life and Others) explores the effects that technology and knowledge have on consciousness, free will, and the human desire for meaning. These nine stories introduce life-changing inventions and new worlds with radically different physical laws. In each, Chiang produces deeply moving drama from fascinating first premises. The title story follows a scientist whose self-experimentation reveals both the origin and eventual fate of consciousness. In “What’s Expected of Us,” a small device horrifically alters human behavior. Chiang’s rigorous worldbuilding makes hard science fiction out of stories that would otherwise be fable, as in the Hugo and Nebula-winning novelette “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate,” a time travel story that employs both relativistic physics and an Arabian Nights–style structure. Others grapple with robots parenting humans, humans parenting AIs, the Fermi paradox, quantum mechanics, and what it means to be a sentient creature facing a potentially deterministic universe. As Chiang’s endnotes attest, these stories are brilliant experiments, and his commitment to exploring deep human questions elevates them to among the very best science fiction. Agent: Kirby Kim, Janklow & Nesbit. (May)

Reviewed on 12/14/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
Stalker: A Joona Linna Novel

Lars Kepler, trans. from the Swedish by Neil Smith. Knopf, $27.95 (592p) ISBN 978-1-5247-3226-4

Kepler’s stellar fifth Joona Linna novel finds Joona, who faked his death in 2018’s The Sandman to protect his family from a serial killer, replaced as the Swedish National Police Authority’s expert on “serial killers, spree killers, and stalkers” by Margot Silverman. In Margot’s baffling first case, Maria Carlsson, an Ikea product adviser, was stabbed repeatedly in her home, and her facial features were almost completely effaced. Maria’s killer posted a video of Maria putting on tights, filmed from her garden, to YouTube shortly before the murder. Before Margot can make any progress, another video is posted—of a woman eating ice cream and watching TV—that also is followed by bloody slaughter. Joona reenters the picture after he learns that his nemesis is dead, but his unconventional methods again land him in trouble. The reveal of the stalker’s identity is a genuine gut-punch, albeit fairly clued. Kepler (the pen name for the husband-and-wife writing team of Alexander and Alexandra Ahndoril) does a masterly job of elevating the serial killer thriller beyond genre clichés and tropes. 50,000-copy announced first printing. Agent: Niclas Salomonsson, Salomonsson Agency (Sweden). (Feb.)

Reviewed on 12/14/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
Honey in the Carcase

Josip Novakovich. Dzanc, $16.95 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-1-945814-47-1

Novakovich’s 14 remarkable stories explore the contemporary state of alienation, both physical and emotional. In “Lies,” set in war-torn Croatia, a slightly older brother convinces his sibling that he possesses a squadron of miniature soldiers. A young man with a poetic soul and no lover bemoans the current age and its lack of romance in “A Variation on a Theme of Boccaccio.” A hitchhiker from Yugoslavia experiences ignorance and racism as he travels across the Midwest in “Tumbleweed.” In “Charity Deductions,” a man identifying himself as “proud to be an American” gets so exasperated by the war in Bosnia he watches coverage of on CNN that he goes to help, in person, leading to unexpected consequences. In these stories, a straight-faced absurdity often simmers just below the surface. “My Hairs Stood Up” is narrated by a rodent, and in the title story, a young husband takes refuge from the madness of war by keeping bees—bees that add a haunting coda to the tale’s ending. Every story in this collection from Novakovich (April Fool’s Day) begins with a straightforward statement of premise—“At a Soho pub, David hosted a reunion of his friends from college”—yet his prose is so balanced and apt, with not a superfluous clause or descriptor, that it always lands artfully. This is a haunting, accomplished collection. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 12/14/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Girls at 17 Swann Street

Yara Zgheib. St. Martin’s, $27.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-250-20244-4

In her powerful debut, Zgheib masterfully chronicles the pain of an anorexic’s distorted thinking and intense fear of food in a riveting diarylike structure. Plucked from Paris to St. Louis, former dancer Anna Aubry Roux is 26 years old, married, and in the fight of her life with a severe eating disorder. After fainting in the bathroom and being discovered by her husband, Anna is sent to a residential treatment facility. She is still in denial about her condition, even as she drops to 88 pounds. As she bonds with the other women, including former Olympian hopeful Emm and tortured Ivy League grad Valerie, Anna sees herself in them, and they in her; indeed, it is the residents who show Anna how much she has to live for. Anna’s fits and starts toward recovery are realistically and poignantly depicted. The author also adroitly shows how past traumas (for Anna, her brother’s death in a car accident and her mother’s death by suicide) can manifest in a relentless need for control. This is an impressive, deeply moving debut. 100,000-copy announced first printing. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 12/14/2018 | Details & Permalink

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

Password

Log In Lost Password

Parts of this site are only available to paying PW subscribers. Subscribers: to set up your digital access click here.

To subscribe, click here.

PW “All Access” site license members have access to PW’s subscriber-only website content. Simply close and relaunch your preferred browser to log-in. To find out more about PW’s site license subscription options please email: pw@pubservice.com.

If you have questions or need assistance setting up your account please email pw@pubservice.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (U.S.) or 1-818-487-2069 (all other countries), Monday-Friday between 5am and 5pm Pacific time for assistance.

Not Registered? Click here.