Books

Between the Lines: A peek at fall’s new fiction titles

The idle pleasures of summer reading become sweet memories as the mornings grow progressively more chilly and the leaves begin to change colors. With another fall comes the second seasonal wave of new titles from the $27-billion-a-year books industry, the most exciting time of the year for devoted readers.

As usual, there’s much more fiction than nonfiction. Today, we delve into the new fiction of the season, saving the new nonfiction titles until Oct. 21.

Generally, the fall releases are larger in scope than summer’s, and of a more serious mien as publishers offer lead titles by their A-list authors. Not surprisingly, half the year’s book sales will occur over the next two months – the walk-up to the holiday gift-giving season.

“Book publishing is undergoing many transformations,” said Penguin-Random House spokesman Stuart Applebaum. “But what is unchanging about its commercial side is the consumers’ penchant to give books as year-end holiday gifts, and for my publisher colleagues to cater to that affinity by holding off potential summertime publication of large-format ‘gifty’ titles until the fall.”

This list offers a sampling, arranged alphabetically by authors’ last names. Many are on sale now; for the others, publishing dates are noted. As the fall rolls on, look for more reading suggestions in my Between the Lines column in Tuesday’s Living Here section.

Before you dive in, though, keep these two quotes in mind for context:

Stephen King: “Books are the perfect entertainment: no commercials, no batteries, hours of enjoyment for each dollar spent.”

Groucho Marx: “I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”

▪ “The Marco Effect” by Jussi Adler-Olsen (Dutton, $28, 496 pages): The author is Denmark’s top crime writer, and his witty five-title “Department Q” series shows why. Detective Carl Mørck and his civilian assistants, the mysterious Assad and the obsessive Rose, take on a case involving a murderous gypsy king and a boy in dire danger.

▪ “The Anatomy of Dreams” by Chloe Benjamin (Atria, $15, 320 pages): Two students in a Northern California boarding school fall under the spell of a teacher-medical researcher and his theories of “lucid dreaming” – being aware in a dream that you are dreaming. Finally, the line that separates the real from the imaginary is crossed. You may never sleep again ...

▪ “The Wolf in Winter” by John Connolly (Atria, $26, 432 pages; Oct. 28): Irish author John Connolly is known for his 13-title series starring Charlie Parker, a former NYPD detective working as a PI. One twist: He involuntarily communes with ghosts. Another: He consistently confronts “unspeakable evil.” However, readers will find philosophical and theological depths missing from most of the genre. This time, a vengeance-minded Parker investigates murders in a small town built around a centuries-old church.

▪ “The Burning Room” by Michael Connelly (Little Brown, $28, 400 pages; on sale Nov. 3): As the leader of the LAPD’s Open-Unsolved Unit, detective Harry Bosch works with rookie partner Lucia Soto to solve the 9-year-old cold-case murder of a man shot with a rifle in a public park. A typical mix of city and police politics, mayhem and danger.

▪ “Perfidia” by James Elroy (Knopf, $29, 720 pages): Pearl Harbor has been bombed by the Japanese. and Los Angeles is going war-crazy. When a Japanese family is murdered, an LAPD task force is assigned to investigate. One of its members is the only Japanese American on the force, leading to nasty consequences. Elroy is the author of the groundbreaking “L.A. Quartet” – “The Black Dahlia,” “The Big Nowhere,” “L.A. Confidential” and “White Jazz.”

▪ “The High Divide” by Lin Enger (Algonquin, $25, 352 pages): The Pope family is homesteading on the Minnesota prairie in 1886, when husband-father Ulysses Pope deserts his wife, Gretta, and their two sons. The boys light out after their dad, and their mother soon follows, ending up in the Montana badlands. Their desperate journey is filled with unexpected dangers and crises. Was Ulysses really worth the bother?

▪ “The Book of Strange New Things” by Michel Faber (Hogarth, $28, 512 pages; Oct. 28): Yes, it’s sci-fi, but much more. Peter travels across galaxies to another planet to spread spirituality among an alien race infected with a life-threatening illness. They may or may not be “friendly.” Meanwhile, savage weather systems are devastating Earth, and Peter’s wife, Bea, is desperate.

▪ “Let Me Be Frank With You” by Richard Ford (Ecco, $28, 256 pages; Nov. 4): The Pulizer Prize-winner ricochets off his “Frank Bascombe Trilogy” of novels (“The Sportswriter,” “Independence Day,” “The Lay of the Land”) with four themed stories told by Bascombe, his insightful, funny and irreverent main character now living in New Jersey.

▪ “The Bully of Order” by Brian Hart (Harper, $26, 400 pages): The Harbor is a rough and dangerous logging town on the Washington coast, where the Ellstrom family must make their new home. Their travails during the turn of the 20th century follow the growth of the port in a story of betrayal and redemption.

▪ “Internal Medicine: A Doctor’s Stories” by Terrence Holt (Liveright, $25, 288 pages): The physician-author called on his own experiences with patients and their families, medical staff and hospital administrations to forge this revealing collection of nine stories that spotlight the doctor-patient relationship and the sorrows and triumphs that attend it.

▪ “Ugly Girls” by Lindsay Hunter (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $25, 240 pages; Nov. 4): Two teen girls with a twisted friendship dare each other to take more and greater risks, and then wallow in the resulting chaos. They go over the edge when they finally come face-to-face with an online stalker.

▪ “A Brief History of Seven Killings” by Marlon James (Riverhead, $29, 704 pages): Jamaican native James re-imagines the tumult and dangers of his island home during the 1970s and into the 1990s, including the assassination attempt on musician Bob Marley.

▪ “The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher” by Hilary Mantel (Henry Holt, $27, 256 pages): The 10-story collection is eclectic, covering such topics as mysterious deaths, family relationships and quiet infidelities. The stories could be about anything, though, and still be on your must-read list, by dint of Mantel’s credentials: She has twice won the Man Booker Prize for her two historic novels in the Thomas Cromwell trilogy, and is completing the third.

▪ “Cobra” by Deon Meyer (Atlantic Monthly, $26, 384 pages): In this import from South Africa, police detective Benny Griessel is challenged by two cases – one of a missing British tourist whose two bodyguards were murdered; the other of a pickpocket who turns out to be lethal. Meyer is considered the “king of the South African crime novel.”

▪ “Mermaids in Paradise” by Lydia Millet (W.W. Norton, $26, 304 pages; Nov. 3): The Pulitzer Prize finalist (“Love in Infant Monkeys,” 2010) has some fun with her newlywed characters honeymooning at a Caribbean resort. When they learn the rumors of mermaids living on a nearby reef are true, they join a group of activists to stop the exploitation of the sirens, as a development company named Venture of Marvels wants to transform the mermaids’ reef into a theme park.

▪ “The Bone Clocks” by David Mitchell (Random House, $30, 640 pages): The author of 2004’s “Cloud Atlas” returns with another complicated and satisfying tale. A teen girl who really does hear voices runs away from home and becomes involved with a group of “dangerous mystics.” Visions that may or may not be real, multiple lives, time shifts and other strange phenomena mark this brilliant work.

▪ “The Forgers” by Bradford Morrow (Mysterious Press, $24, 258 pages; Nov. 4): After a rare-book collector is found savagely murdered in his home library, his sister and her literary-forger boyfriend are threatened by the killer. As a backdrop, Morrow takes readers into the rarefied world of book collectors and dealers.

▪ “Rose Gold” by Walter Mosley (Doubleday, $26, 320 pages): Mosley began his Easy Rawlins series in 1990 with “Devil in a Blue Dress,” set in 1948 Los Angeles and made into a 1995 movie starring Denzel Washington. Rawlins is a reluctant private eye who has moved forward in time as the 13-title series has progressed. The latest finds him in the mid-1970s, working to rescue a kidnapped heiress from “a revolutionary cell called Scorched Earth.”

▪ “Full Measure” by T. Jefferson Parker (St. Martin’s $26, 288 pages): Parker shows why he’s a three-time Edgar Award winner in this twisting story of two disparate brothers and their struggles to save each other in different ways. “Full Measure” is a stand-alone novel, but not to be missed is Parker’s earlier six-title “Charlie Hood” series.

▪ “The Black Lizard Big Book of Locked Room Mysteries,” edited by Otto Penzler (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, $25, 960 pages; Oct. 28): The template has existed for 200 years: A murder is committed in a locked room, making it impossible for the murderer to have escaped. Enter a brilliant detective to solve the case. Contributing to this collection of 68 impossible-crime tales are John Dickson Carr, Dorothy L. Sayers, Erle Stanley Gardner, Georges Simenon, Dashiell Hammett and P.G. Wodehouse.

▪ “Blue Labyrinth” by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (Hachette, $27, 416 pages; Nov. 11): The longtime writing partners are back with their 14th collaboration featuring eccentric FBI special agent Aloysius Pendergast, from the Sherlock Holmes template but more quirky and compelling. This time, one of Pendergast’s sons is murdered by a wronged man from the past – one determined to kill Pendergast as well.

▪ “A Sudden Light” by Garth Stein (Simon & Schuster, $27, 416 pages): When a 14-year-old boy spends a summer with his dad in their family’s legendary mansion on Puget Sound, the teen discovers startling family secrets, hidden rooms and staircases, and a ghostly presence reluctant to move on. Stein wrote the 2008 best-selling “The Art of Racing In the Rain.”

▪ “The Hawley Book of the Dead” by Chrysler Szarlan (Ballantine, $26, 352 pages): Dire circumstances force Las Vegas illusionist Reve Dyer to flee for her life to the family farmhouse, where she discovers a time-worn book that holds magical powers. Will it protect her and her daughters from their pursuers?

▪ “Love Me Back” by Merritt Tierce (Doubleday, $24, 224 pages): Call this one a cautionary tale. Young single mother Marie goes to work at a white-tablecloth steakhouse and gets caught up in the after-hours scene of too much partying and not enough common sense. The National Book Foundation named Tierce among the most talented American writers under age 35.

Call The Bee’s Allen Pierleoni, (916) 321-1128. Follow him on Twitter @apierleonisacbe.

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