Books

Summertime, and the fiction reading is ready to roll

Age of Myth Book One of The Legends of the First Empire by Michael J. Sullivan
Age of Myth Book One of The Legends of the First Empire by Michael J. Sullivan

Summer means the leisure to spend time with a book or 10, in print, digital or audio. The current landslide of summer titles will continue into September, when the $27 billion publishing industry will begin releasing its marquee titles in advance of the holiday gift-giving season.

This list offers a recommended sampling, arranged alphabetically by authors’ last names. Many are on sale now; for the others, publishing dates are noted. In coming weeks, look for similar lists of nonfiction books and beach reads.

Before you turn the first page, though, remember novelist Ray Bradbury’s caution, referencing his classic dystopian novel “Fahrenheit 451”: “You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”

“Murder on the Quai” by Cara Black (Soho Crime, $28, 336 pages): Paris-based investigator (and fashion plate) Aimee Leduc returns in her 16th atmospheric adventure, this one with a twist. Readers flash back in time to learn how former medical student Aimee became a sleuth in the first place. Black has appeared for the Bee Book Club.

“The Girls” by Emma Cline (Random House, $27, 368 pages): In 1960s California, a privileged but vulnerable young woman comes under the spell of a Charles Manson-like sociopath and his cult followers. As Evie falls deeper into the lifestyle, something awful is about to happen.

“Robert B. Parker’s Debt To Pay” by Reed Farrel Coleman (Putnam, $27, 352 pages; Sept. 13): In the continued reimagining of Parker’s “Jesse Stone” franchise, the small-town sheriff and his friends are threatened by his former nemesis, a psychotic killer nicknamed Mr. Peepers.

“The Lost Civilization of Suolucidir” by Susan Daitch (City Lights, $17, 332 pages): Grand adventure is the companion to the “archaeologists, speculators and unsavory characters” who over the centuries searched for the mythical city buried beneath sand and time somewhere in present-day Iran.

“Zero K” by Don DeLillo (Scribner, $27, 288 pages): The National Book Award winner takes readers to a secret compound owned by a billionaire who wants to help his ill wife cheat death – or suspend it. There, scientists have taken the concept of “life-extension cryonics” to another level. On the other hand, their son argues for living in the moment. Complications follow.

“Champion of the World” by Chad Dundas (Putnam, $27, 480 pages, July 12): Set in the early 1920s, a former wrestling champ and his cardsharp wife are forced out of their carnival life and into the more sordid and risky world of robbers and bootleggers.

“Valley of the Moon” by Melanie Gideon (Ballantine, $27, 416 pages, July 26): When a troubled woman visits the Sonoma Valley for a quiet weekend, she slides into Greengage, an “idyllic community” that exists outside the boundary of time.

“The Woman in the Photo” by Mary Hogan (William Morrow, $16, 432 pages): Lee Parker comes across an old family picture of a distant relative standing in what looks like a disaster area. Posed next to her is none other than Clara Barton, founder of the Red Cross. Though 125 years separate the two women, Lee is determined to solve the riddle of the photo.

“We Could Be Beautiful” by Swan Huntley (Doubleday, $26, 352 pages, June 28): A well-meaning super-rich Manhattan socialite has everything except what she wants the most – a loving husband and family to share her lifestyle. All the men she meets are golddiggers, until William Stockton shows up and the two are married. He seems too good to be true, and you know the old saying about that.

“The Lonely” by Andrew Michael Hurley (Houghton Mifflin, $26, 304 pages): As a boy, “Tonto” Smith traveled on an Easter pilgrimage to a shrine on a desolate area of the British coastline. Now, 40 years later, he recalls the terrifying events that occurred and at last reveals the secrets he has guarded for so long.

“I Let You Go” by Clair Mackintoswh (Berkley, $27 384 pages): When a mother loses her child to a hit-and-run, two disparate police detectives draw her into the increasingly puzzling and frustrating investigation. One question keeps coming up: What isn’t the mother telling?

The Thousandth Floor” by Katharine McGee (Harper Collins, $18, 448 pages, Aug. 30): This is the first title in a YA trilogy set in 2118, inside a thousand-story skyscraper in Manhattan. There, among the populace, five young people live out life’s dramas against a backdrop of corporate manipulation, “high-tech luxury and futuristic glamor.” Avery, for instance, has been “genetically designed to be perfect.”

“I Almost Forgot About You” by Terry McMillan (Crown, $27, 368 pages): McMillan specializes in novels about friendships and families, and strong women characters who take risks (“Waiting To Exhale,” “Getting to Happy”). The fidgety Georgia Young wants to become a different person, so she gives up her optometrist practice and moves to a different state. Does her fresh start include another shot at love?

“Truly Madly Guilty” by Liane Moriarty (Flatiron, $27, 432 pages; July 26): Sometimes it’s best to keep friends and neighbors at a certain distance, as three “ordinary” families (who aren’t ordinary at all) discover one afternoon at a backyard cookout. Australian novelist Moriary’s “The Husband’s Secret” (2013) sold more than 3 million copies.

“Someone Always Knows” by Marcia Muller (Grand Central, $26, 304 pages; July 5): San Francisco P.I. Sharon McCone and her business partner-husband Hy take on two dangerous cases. One involves a “troublesome” figure from Hy’s past, the other a client whose “derelict house” has a history that leads to a killer’s obsession with McCone.

“Blind Sight” by Carol O’Connell (Putnam, $27, 400 pages): Through 12 novels featuring NYPD Special Crimes Unit detective Kathleen Mallory, readers have been taken on a wild ride with the brilliant, unpredictable sociopath and onetime street urchin who was “adopted” by cops and later became an officer. Here, Mallory leads a task force in search of a missing child.

“The Girl Before” by Rena Olsen (Putnam, $15, 320 pages, Aug. 9): The psychological thriller opens with a shock as a couple’s home is invaded by armed agents and she and her husband are taken to different locations. Diana finds herself imprisoned in a psychiatric hospital, while husband Glen may or may not be guilty of heinous crimes. The story constantly shifts from the past to the present.

“White Bone” by Ridley Pearson (Putnm, $27, 400 pages): The fourth “Risk Agent” title finds partners-in-espionage John Knox and Grace Chu in the African bush, battling elephant poachers and Al-Shabaab militants. Though it’s a thriller, it’s also an indictment against poaching. Pearson has appeared for the Bee Book Club.

“The Heavenly Table” by Donald Ray Pollock (Doubleday, $28, 384 pages, July 12): In a dark yet redeeming Gothic story set in the farmlands of Georgia and Ohio in the early 1900s, the three Jewett brothers set out on a cross-country journey of crime and violence. Little do they know that fate has arranged for their paths to cross with a farmer and his wife who will change their trajectory.

Barkskins” by Annie Proulx (Scribner, $32, 736 pages): The A-list author (“The Shipping News”) opens with the story of two Frenchmen in the late 1600s who are indentured “barkskins” (wood-cutters) in the New World. She follows their descendants’ lives, times and travels over a 300-year period. Proulx holds a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award.

“The Mirror Thief” by Martin Seay (Melville House, $28, 592 pages): In 16th-century Venice, an ex-soldier schemes to steal the secret of making mirrors, at the time a capital crime. Cut to 1950s Venice Beach, and then the Venice Casino in present-day Las Vegas, where two other culprits also plan to outwit the authorities. Then the story crosses through time and ties the three tales together. Unique.

“Marrow Island” by Alexis M. Smith (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $23, 256 pages): Two decades earlier, a tsunami hit a populated island in the Pacific Northwest, wrecking lives and crushing the landscape. Lucie, who moved inland and became a journalist, suddenly hears from her childhood friend that Marrow Island has been resurrected and repopulated as the mysterious Colony. She investigates, but the risks are serious.

“The Age of Myth” by Michael J. Sullivan (Del Rey, $26, 432 pages): The epic-fantasy master begins a third series (to encompass five titles) with this tale of the Fhrey, a seemingly immortal race worshiped as gods by humankind. But when one of them is killed by Raithe, a mere man, the dynamic shifts drastically. Now the Fhrey are set on genocide of the human race. Can a handful of heroes stop them?

“Only the Hunted Run” by Neely Tucker (Viking, $27, 288 pages, Aug. 30): In his third outing, reporter Sully Carter follows a story from the violent streets of Washington, D.C., to an Oklahoma Indian reservation. What he finds there convinces him to go undercover inside an insane asylum. Tucker writes for the Washington Post.

“Vinegar Girl” by Anne Tyler (Hogarth, $25, 240 pages): The Pulitzer Prize-winning veteran novelist (“Breathing Lessons,” “A Spool of Blue Thread”) returns with a very funny retelling of Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew.”

“Deep Blue” by Randy Wayne White (Putnam, $27, 336 pages): The former fishing guide-turned-novelist has made his career on his black-ops character, Doc Ford, whose cover is as a marine biologist on Florida’s Gulf Coast. The cast of odd supporting characters has helped fuel the 23-title series, which this time out involves a crazed computer genius, an orca and sudden death in Mexico. White has appeared for the Bee Book Club.

Allen Pierleoni: 916-321-1128, @apierleonisacbe

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