The $27 billion books industry is revved and ready for the summer-reading onslaught, with an avalanche of page-turners in print, digital and audio.
In what may be the publishing event of the year, 2 million copies of “Go Set a Watchman” by Harper Lee will flood the market July 14. It’s considered either the prequel or sequel to “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which is still required reading for the nation’s high school students.
Lee wrote “Watchman” in the 1950s, later calling it “the parent of ‘Mockingbird.’” It’s about a young woman (the adult Scout) who lives in New York and visits her father (Atticus) in small-town Alabama. “My editor, who was taken by the flashbacks to Scout’s childhood, persuaded me to write a novel from the point of view of the young Scout,” Lee explained to the national media in February.
So she rewrote “Watchman” as “Mockingbird.” Thus, “Mockingbird” (published in 1960) literally followed “Watchman,” though “Mockingbird’s” storytelling chronology precedes that of “Watchman.” Got it?
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This sampling of 12 big-buzz fiction titles (alphabetically arranged by author) should be enough to get you started. For those not on sale now, publishing dates are noted. In coming weeks, look for similar lists of nonfiction books and beach reads.
“The Truth According to Us” by Annie Barrows (Dial, $28, 512 pages; on sale June 9): In 1938, a young woman from the city is assigned by the Federal Writers Project to write the history of a small town. There she discovers a trove of secrets.
“Abroad” by Katie Crouch (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26, 304 pages; June 17): An Irish student studying at an international university in Italy has the disconcerting feeling that something isn’t quite right about the place or with her fellow students – to put it mildly.
“The Dead Assassin” by Vaughn Entwhistle (Minotaur, $27, 352 pages; June 9): Victorian-era London is set upon by a series of inexplicable murders committed by – can it be? – recently executed criminals. Scotland Yard consults with crime-busters Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and fellow writer Oscar Wilde. Shades of Holmes and Watson.
“The Fixer” by Joseph Finder (Dutton, $28, 384 pages; June 9): When Rick Hoffman loses his job, girlfriend and apartment, he moves in to the now-empty fixer-upper home where he grew up. Renovating it, he’s stunned to find millions of dollars in cash stashed in a wall. That’s when his troubles really begin.
“Adrift” by Paul Griffin (Scholastic, $18, 240 pages; July 28): Five teens from disparate backgrounds are stranded in a small boat on the stormy Atlantic. Young-adult fiction at its most tense.
“Rock With Wings” by Anne Hillerman (Harper, $28, 336 pages; on sale now): Hillerman picked up the mantle of her late father, Tony Hillerman, to continue the adventures of Navajo tribal police Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn. Her twist: Chee now works with his police officer wife. Here, they track a missing woman.
“The Last Pilot” by Benjamin Johncock (Picador, $26, 320 pages; July 7): During the Space Race of the 1960s and 1970s, an Air Force pilot chooses family life over the astronaut program. Sudden tragedy changes everything.
“Finders Keepers” by Stephen King (Scribner, $30, 448 pages; June 2): A deranged fan murders his favorite author because the writer has bailed on the latest entry in his best-selling series. After release from prison, the fan is determined to find the author’s unpublished last manuscript – whatever it takes.
“Charlie Martz and Other Stories” by Elmore Leonard (William Morrow, $26, 256 pages; June 16): This collection of 15 early stories by the late master of crime fiction (“Get Shorty”) features 11 never before published.
“Palace of Treason” by Jason Matthews (Scribner, $27, 480 pages; June 2): Russian agent Dominika Egorova works as a mole for the CIA and is a twosome with her case officer, agent Nate Nash. But someone at CIA headquarters may have compromised her to none other than Vladimir Putin.
“And Sometimes I Wonder About You” by Walter Mosley (Doubleday, $27, 288 pages): Between family turmoil and a murder case, former boxer-turned-P.I. Leonid McGill is up to his shoulder holster in turmoil in this fifth outing.
“All That Followed” by Garbriel Urza (Henry Holt, $25, 272 pages; Aug. 4): The locals in a quiet Spanish town demand to know the truth about a horrific crime that rocked their lives five years previously. The answers are more than they bargained for.