Fabulous Fiction Firsts #277

NPR's Three Critics Pick The Best Books For Summer (listen to the podcast) has some fabulous titles. And no one was surprised that The Hypnotist * * featured prominently on it. Now NPR just unmasked the identity of the author(s), known until now, as Lars Kepler.

Stockholm. A gruesome triple murder. 15 year-old, the only witness/survivor, sustained 100 knife-wounds and is in shock. Detective Inspector Joona Linna's only option - to enlist the help of Dr. Erik Maria Bark, the hypnotist.

The battle-worn Linna and the reluctant and scarred Bark unwittingly set off a chain of violent events that climax at a remote cabin north of the Arctic Circle.

An international bestseller and already being adapted for film, The Hypnotist is an adrenaline- and action-packed thriller, "smart and unpredictable", atmospheric as it is cinematic. A nordic crime mystery debut to rival some of the best in the genre.

* * = Starred reviews

Author Birthdays: Haggard, Remarque, Brown

June 22nd marks the birthday of authors H. Rider Haggard, Erich-Maria Remarque, and Dan Brown.

H. Rider Haggard, also known as Sir Henry Rider Haggard, was an English author, mainly known for his works featuring the character Allan Quartermain, most notably the novel King Solomon's Mines.

Haggard's writing and characters have been the basis for many things: Quartermain was the prototype for Indiana Jones; his character Ayesha influenced psychologists and other writers; and his adventurous story lines influenced the "Lost World" genre's later writers.

Erich-Maria Remarque was a German author. His best known work was the WWI novel All Quiet on the Western Front, which was also made into a film.

Remarque's other novels include The Night in Lisbon, which tells the story of German refugees during the beginning of WWII, and Arch of Triumph, which was also made into a movie (starring Ingrid Bergman).

Dan Brown is an American novelist, best known for his book The Da Vinci Code, and the other novels starring the character of Robert Langdon.

Brown's first novel was Digital Fortress, which, like The Da Vinci Code, features code-breaking, though the main character is a mathematician rather than a "symbologist." In 2007, Brown also published a memoir about his work as a New York teacher.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #267

S.J. Watson's Before I Go to Sleep : a novel * * * is definitely the buzz of the summer, the book everyone is waiting to get their hands on.

Young and single Christine Lucas awakes each morning appalled with the 47 year-old woman looking back at her in the mirror. A man named Ben reminds her each day he is her husband. Each night as she sleeps, her near-term memory is wiped clean. With the help of her memory coach Dr. Nash, Christine keeps a secret journal which contains key details from her past, details that don't quite match the story Ben has been telling her.

With a taut and well-constructed plot, the immediacy of the first-person narrative, and the pulse-pounding suspense, British debut novelist Watson gives us one of the season's very best psychological thriller. Rights sold to 34 countries. Film rights to Ridley Scott. Early blurbs by Dennis Lehane and Tess Gerritsen.

* * * = Starred reviews

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #256

Harvard grad Edward Conlon is a former detective with the New York City Police Department. His memoir Blue Blood (2004) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; a New York Times Notable Book; and has been adapted into a popular television series.

His highly anticipated debut novel Red on Red * * * * tells the story of two NYPD detectives, Meehan and Esposito and their fierce and unlikely friendship. One damaged and introspective, the other ambitious and unscrupulous, they nevertheless prove to be complimentary and a successful team working the rough Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, handling gritty crimes of suicides, rapes, gang wars, and the disappearance of a troubled Catholic schoolgirl who is a mystery in her own right.

A potent mix of strong story line, police jargon, crisp dialog, black humor, with complicated romances thrown in for good measure, makes this a captivating thrill ride. A readalike for Lou Manfredo's Rizzo's War (and its follow-up Rizzo's Fire), and gritty police/crime thrillers of Joseph Wambaugh, George Pelecanos, and Dennis Lehane.

* * * * = starred reviews

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #254

There are FFFs that you are determined to hand-sell every chance you get, and then there are some you want to shout "You don't want to miss this!". Guilt by Association : a novel * * * is just such a debut (out mid April).

First, there is the author. A former L.A. Deputy District Attorney, the lead prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson murder case, Marcia Clark is the author of Without a Doubt (1997) her memoir of the trial.

Next, there is the story. Los Angeles D.A. Rachel Knight is a tenacious, wise-cracking, and fiercely intelligent prosecutor. When her colleague, Jake Pahlmeyer is found shot to death in a sleazy motel along with a 17-year-old boy, she must take over his toughest case: the rape of the teenage daughter from a prominent family. Though having been warned-off by the top brass against delving into Jake's death, Rachel teams up with LAPD Detective Bailey Keller to pursue both cases, risking not only her career but also her life.

And then, there is the writing. "Marcia Clark combines intimate detail, riotous humor, and visceral action" in a real twisty, top-notched legal thriller.

For fans of Linda Fairstein and Meg Gardiner. Maximum girl power.

* * * = Starred reviews

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #251

Taylor Stevens' s "blazingly brilliant debut" The Informationist * * is perhaps the best thriller I've read in a long while, introducing at the same time a new action heroine, who is a worthy successor to Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander.

Androgynous and beautiful, possessing an encyclopedic and logical mind, Vanessa Michael Munroe deals in information - very expensive information that corporations and the CIA are more than willing to pay for. Now a Texas oil billionaire has hired her to find his daughter who vanished in Africa four years ago. Born to missionary parents in lawless central Africa, Munroe took up with an infamous gunrunner when she was just fourteen. After almost a decade building a new life and lucrative career, Munroe finds herself back in the lands of her childhood, betrayed, cut off from civilization, and left for dead.

"Gripping, ingenious, and impeccably paced" . You don't get any better than this.

The author herself is as unusual as her protagonist. Born into the Children of God, raised in communes across the globe, denied an education beyond the sixth grade, Taylor Stevens broke free of the cult in her late 20s. With no marketable skills and a family to support, she began writing in earnest after reading a Robert Ludlum. Here is an interview with Stevens in the latest Vogue Magazine. She is at work on the 3rd title in the series.

* * = starred reviews

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #249

High body count, fast-paced action, murder, conspiracy, secret society - if that's right up your alley, then you would like Scott Mariani's The Mozart Conspiracy : a thriller (due out early next week).

A centuries-old mystery. An “accidental” death. A conspiracy that may end in murder. Former British Special Air Service officer Ben Hope is running for his life. Enlisted by Leigh Llewellyn—the beautiful, world-famous opera star and Ben’s first love—to investigate her brother, Oliver’s, mysterious death, Ben finds himself caught up in a puzzle dating back to the 1700s and might somehow be connected to mysterious death of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

British author Miriani makes his U.S. debut with the second in his series featuring ex-SAS warrior Ben Hope. For fans of Dan Brown, James Rollins, and Robert Ludlum.

March's Action-Packed Books to Film

Already in theaters is The Adjustment Bureau, adapted from the short story "The Adjustment Team" by Philip K. Dick, collected in The Early Work of Philip K. Dick. Vol. 1, The variable man & other stories. Matt Damon plays David Norris, a promising U.S. Senate candidate who falls for beautiful dancer at a chance meeting but fate and a mysterious group of men conspire to keep the two apart.

Alan Glynn's The Dark Fields is adapted into Limitless, a paranoia-fueled action thriller about an unsuccessful writer whose life is transformed by a top-secret "smart drug" that allows him to use 100% of his brain and become a perfect version of himself. His enhanced abilities soon attract shadowy forces that threaten his new life in this darkly comic and provocative film. Starring Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish, and Robert De Niro.

Charismatic bad boy Matthew McConaughey plays Mickey Haller in the highly anticipated adaptation of Michael Connelly's The Lincoln Lawyer.

In the film, Michael "Mick" Haller is a slick, charismatic Los Angeles criminal defense attorney who operates out of the back of his Lincoln Continental Sedan. Having spent most of his career defending petty, gutter-variety criminals, Mick unexpectedly lands the case of a lifetime: defending a rich Beverly Hills playboy who is accused of attempted murder. However, what initially appears to be a straightforward case with a big money payoff swiftly develops into a deadly match between two masters of manipulation and a crisis of conscience for Haller.

Adjustment bureauAdjustment bureau

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #239

Sara J. Henry's Learning to Swim : a novel (coming out this month) is the first in a projected mystery series.

Freelance writer Troy Chance rescues a child tossed off the back of a passing ferry onto frigid Lake Champlain. Gradually teasing out his story, made difficult by the fact that he only speaks French, Troy comes to understand that the boy, Paul had been kidnapped, held for months. When Troy tracks down Paul's father, successful businessman Philippe Dumond and returns Paul to Ottawa, she soon senses that Paul might still be in danger and in fact, is at the center of a bizarre and violent plot.

"A compelling plot, a pervading sense of foreboding, well-constructed characters..., Henry proves herself to be a smooth and compelling storyteller. And her lead is highly appealing: an athletic, fiercely independent young woman".

A readalike for crime-fiction authors Chevy Stevens, Norman Green and Gillian Flynn whose feisty female protagonists are also capable of making delightfully acerbic observations.

2011 Best in Genre Fiction - American Library Association Reading List Council Awards

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The Reading List annually recognizes the best books in eight genres: adrenaline (including suspense, thriller and adventure), fantasy, historical fiction, horror, mystery, romance, science fiction and women’s fiction. This year’s list includes novels that will please die-hard fans, as well as introduce new readers to the pleasures of genre fiction - and what pleases me most is to see many debut novels among the winners and on the shortlists.

Adrenaline
The Nearest Exit by Olen Steinhauer

Fantasy
Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay

Historical Fiction
The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer

Horror
The Dead Path by Stephen M. Irwin

Mystery
Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny

Romance
A Matter of Class by Mary Balogh

Science Fiction
The Dervish House by IIan McDonald

Women’s Fiction
Solomon’s Oak by Jo-Ann Mapson

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