We were going to roll into this second week of 2020 a little more casually—you know, still wearing pajamas, a Bloody Mary in one hand, a toasted cheesy croissant in the other—but apparently, everyone else is already Go! Go! Go! Just look at these covers.
Iris & Roy Johansen are back with Hindsight, another book starring the once-blind Dr. Kendra Michaels. Her sight restored by some revolutionary procedure (that sounds a little Bionic Woman to us, but we are in the future now, so . . . ), Dr. Michaels uses her keen detect-o-vision to investigate a series of suspicious deaths at a school for the blind. She's also keeping an eye on the handsome but mysterious former FBI guy, Adam Lynch, who is giving off all sorts of mixed signals. Expect all sorts of twists and turns and red herrings!
Meanwhile, Jayne Ann Krentz's The Vanishing isn't as velocitized in its cover, but that doesn't mean the tension isn't as thick. The Vanishing takes place at Fogg Lake, WA, where a mysterious explosion forty years back left everyone with weird psychic powers. Childhood pals Catalina Lark and Olivia Dayton use their powers for good as private eyes, and when Olivia disappears, it's up to Cat to find her. Along the way, she tangles with a mysterious Foundation and Slate Trevelyan, a man with a hidden agenda.
Cat and Slate. We're reminded of Newt Jones from last week from that book by that guy related to that fictional character. Clearly, everyone is going to be coming up with clever names this year.
Meanwhile, on the cover Ian Rankin's Westwind, we only get the shadow of some dude running. That's because he is running THAT fast. There are tensions in Europe. Britain, unable to decide if it should stay or go, is too busy to notice that one of its satellites has gone missing. More disasters follow, and, yes, suddenly, Michael Hepton realizes he knows more than he should about what's really going on. The only chance he has is to run . . .
This was originally published in 1990, back when Ian Rankin was still trying to figure out what kind of writer he wanted to be. This edition comes with a lovely introduction where Rankin walks us back thirty years and lets us peek into the early days of his career. Sure, Westwind is an alternate history techno-thriller, but the plot seems all too plausible these days.
Oh, and of course, James Patterson is not one to miss a trend. We have The River Murders this week, which is a bind-up of three novellas about a dude named Mitchum. He runs through the snow. He uncovers government conspiracies. He fights an evil mastermind, who wants nothing more than to kill everyone that means something to Mitchum. This time, it's personal, damnit!
And speaking of making things personal, Marc-Uwe Kling's Qualityland is out this week. It's about Peter Jobless (everyone in Qualityland gets their last name from their father's occupation at the time of their birth) and his efforts to return a product he didn't order. Since TheShop—the world's most popular (and ubiquitous) online retailer—has the best (sorry, bestest) algorithm, it can't possibly be wrong. This confusion sets up a showdown between our omnipresent dystopian overlords and the little guy who clings to his quaint notion of independent thinking. It's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy meets 1984, and we couldn't stop laughing and wincing in equal measure. It's sharp, sharp satire, and all the more biting because it's a world that is just around the corner. Highly recommended.
On the other hand, we're scratching our heads a little bit about Treason, the latest novel from Stuart Woods. Apparently, there's a mole in some agency and Stone Barrington has to figure out who it is before the entire intelligence apparatus comes tumbling down. Which sounds very thrilling and all, but what in the hell is this thing?
Is that how we're supposed to know this book is about spies? Or it is a contact lens case, and that means this book is about some old dude who wandered—no, sorry, RAN—off and left his trusty sidearm and his aviator shades behind. Along with that whatchamacallit thingie. Which makes it a book about our aging parents and that dementia no one wants to talk about. Hmmm . . .
This is going to bug us all week.
Meanwhile, the rest of the bookselling world is making nosies about Dear Edward, the new book by Ann Napolitano. Edward is the sole survivor of a deadly plane crash, and Dear Edward examines how a young boy finds a future when his entire past is taken away from him. Life is hard, and life without meaning is even harder, but Napolitano does a masterful job of breathing purpose and meaning into Edward's life. This one will break you, but in that way that you like to be broken by books.
And speaking of broken things, The Night Country, Melissa Albert's sequel to The Hazel Woods, is out this week. All the things you loved about the first book are back in this sequel, though dialed up to sixteen. More mystery! More fantastic creations! More evocative language! A slow burn that burns even slower! No, fiercerly-er. Whatever. Something like that.
And speaking of evocative imagery and delightful characters, this week's impressive debut is Crissy Van Meter's Creatures. Set on fictitious Winter Island, Creatures is all about dysfunctional families, the wild and wooly lure of the sea, and how both exert a near-inescapable power over us. Evie just wants to get married, but her groom is apparently lost at sea, her mother has inexplicably re-appeared after being gone for most of Evie's life, and her dad is still stoned. Oh, and there's a whale corpse rotting in the bay.
It's going to be the best wedding ever, right?
And speaking of disasters pilling up and how to be sanguine during them, Chuck Palahniuk is back this week with Consider This: Moments in My Writing Life After Which Everything Was Different. Palahniuk is one of those authors who defies categorization (okay, okay, "Batshit Surreal Family Dysfunctionalism"), and Consider This is both a book on craft and a book about life. Because, as you know, one is welded to the other, much like "family" and "dysfunctionalism."
Plus there are anecdotes from the touring life of an author who revels in writing about transgressive outsiders. Come for the writing advice! Stay for the absurdity of crazed fans wielding tubes of mice!
And finally, we'll leave you with this useful advice. Always hug a unicorn. Watch out for the horn, though. They get a little careless with it sometimes. Endearing, and yet mildly dangerous. Just the way we like it.