Monday, January 26, 2015

Four-Star Mysteries, Short Stories, Fantasy and Science Fiction 2014

Photo by roujo


Deadline by John Dunning. Goodreads synopsis: When a circus tent fire calls "Tribune" reporter Dalton Walker into action, he's disturbed to find that no relatives have come to claim the body of a young victim. Dalton is also covering the story of a young Amish woman turned famous New York dancer. But not every story is what it seems, and soon Walker is heading down a terrifying seductive path toward the truth, and the unrelenting deadline. Fawcett reprint.

I love John Dunning. I love Cliff Janeway's rambling discourses about books and bookstores, I love the labyrinthine plots revolving around long-lost first editions and people who love books to an insane degree. This is an earlier book, and it has the same delicious aura of printer's ink and page dust, although the protagonist is a reporter rather than a used bookstore-owner. I love the rapturous musing on old-style journalism and the ferocious need to get to the bottom of the story. The whole book had a kind of quaint, old-fashioned patina to it - the romance was sweet and courtly, and the subplot about the Amish people lent a nice counterpoint. 

Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer. Goodreads synopsis: 'The dead can't speak to us,' Professor Madoc had said.
But that was a lie.
Sometimes, only an outsider can get to the truth.
Patrick has been on the outside all his life. Thoughtful, but different, infuriating even to his own mother, his life changes when he follows an obsession with death to study anatomy at university.
When he uncovers a crime that everybody else was too close to see, he proves finally that he has been right all along: nothing is exactly as it seems.
And that there have been many more lies closer to home.

Will spur inevitable comparison's to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night, which is fine - they're both good. This is quite different from her Exmoor trilogy, (the third book of which I reviewed in this post) but I loved it just as much - and it's fairly rare that I find a writer where I'm equally smitten by her series books and standalones. In addition to being good reading, books like this one, and Haddon's, and Elizabeth Moon's Speed of Dark can perhaps be heplful in helping neurotypical people come a step closer to understanding what it's like to live inside Asperger's Syndrome. This is a mystery in so many senses of the word, an exceptional character study, a story filled with compassion and insight, and just a really great read. 

The Burning Air by Erin Kelly. Goodreads synopsis: Of course it was love for my children, love for my son, that caused me to act as I did. It was a lapse of judgement. If I could have foreseen the rippling aftershocks that followed I would have acted differently, but by the time I realised the extent of the consequences, it was too late.
The MacBrides have always gone to Far Barn in Devon for Bonfire Night, but this year everything is different. Lydia, the matriarch, is dead; Sophie, the eldest daughter, is desperately trying to repair a crumbling marriage; and Felix, the youngest of the family, has brought a girlfriend with him for the first time. 
The girl, Kerry, seems odd in a way nobody can quite put their finger on - but when they leave her looking after Sophie's baby daughter, and return to find both Kerry and the baby gone, they are forced to ask themselves if they have allowed a cuckoo into their nest...
Gripping and chilling, with a killer twist, The Burning Air reaffirms Erin Kelly as one of Britain's foremost psychological thriller writers.

This is another read that veered more in the direction of women's fiction (I know, what the hell does that even mean?) than pure mystery, and one case where impulsively clicking on the download button of a library ebook didn't go horribly wrong. I can still call to mind quite clearly an opening scene where one of the characters goes from her dying mother's hospital room to giving birth to her own child (the fourth, I think). There was some good writing about family relationships, personal betrayal and how one poor choice can set things on a catastrophic course. 

Short Stories (which, as it turns out, are all science fiction/fantasy, with one horror):

Bending the Landscape: Original Gay and Lesbian Horror Writing edited by Nicola Griffith. Goodreads synopsis: A unique collection of horror stories focuses on the work of gay and lesbian writers, including Kraig Blackwelder's Coyote Love, Leslie What's The Were-Slut of Avenue A, and other contributions from Holly Wade Matter, Mark Tiedmann, Brian A. Hopkins, A. J. Potter, and Alexis Glynn Latner. 

An anthology of great writing that just happens to be by gay and lesbian writers. Really well-done on the whole - varied, skillful, deeply unsettling. Some of them made me feel actual nausea. Mostly in a good way. If you know what I mean.

In the Palace of Repose by Holly Phillips. Goodreads synopsis: In the Palace of Repose is a collection of nine such stories, ranging from the delightfully fantastic "In the Palace of Repose," to the delicately horrific "One of the Hungry Ones," to the hauntingly literary "The Other Grace." Here indeed are young women, and young men, who have seen too much, and who have been abandoned to wrestle alone with the strange, the wonderful, the terrifying. Some triumph, some tragically fail. Most struggle on beyond the boundaries of their stories, carrying their wonders and horrors into their lives, into their worlds - worlds, and lives, startlingly like our own.

I'm going to steal from another Goodreads reviewer who called the stories "beautifully written, oblique, yet highly readable". I thought the stories were better than her novel. 

Tales of the Hidden World by Simon R. Green. Goodreads synopsis: Seventeen delightfully unexpected stories from Simon R. Green--including a brand-new adventure of the Droods--take us deep into the Darkside, embroil us in the Secret Histories, and lead us into the shadowy places where monsters and demons roamWelcome to the worlds of Simon R. Green. In this wide-ranging collection, the "New York Times"-bestselling urban fantasist opens doors into hidden places: strange realms bordering our own mundane existence and prowled by creatures of fancy and nightmare. Here are the strange, frequently deadly--and sometimes even dead--things that lurk in garbage-strewn city alleyways and grimy subway stations after midnight, visible only to the most perceptive human or inhuman eye.In these tales, Green revisits the ingenious worlds within worlds that he created for his wildly popular novels. Take a stroll on the Darkside with a jaded street wizard, an underpaid government functionary responsible for keeping demons, vamps, and aliens in line. Enter the hidden recesses of Drood Hall, where the aging family member who creates powerful weapons that protect humankind recalls his long and bloody career. Join a squad of no-longer-human soldiers dispatched to combat the all-consuming jungle on a distant planet. Visit a house at the intesection of two realities that serves as a sanctuary from the evil of "all" worlds. Confront the unstoppable zombie army of General Kurtz in a brilliant homage to "Apocalypse Now." And whatever you do, never forget that there "are" monsters out there. Really.Each story includes a new afterword by the author.

Outstanding collection overall. I have heard of Green's Nightside series but never read any, although I likely will now. I have no idea what the Droods are, but the 'new story about the Droods' called "A Question of Solace" was enjoyable anyway - sort of sweet and sad and redemptive. "Street Wizard" is lovely; an old-fashioned detective-type story except with wizards and magic, and a nice sense of community and outcasts looking out for each other.
"Down and Out in Deadtown" is an effective horror story and an incisive critique on how society treats the homeless. "It's All About the Rendering" is a wonderful, wonderful story that has echoes of Terry Pratchett. "Find Heaven and Hell in the Smallest Things" is a heartwrenching story of despair and also a thumping good read about space and the future. And "From Out of the Sun, Endlessly Singing", should be included on some anthology of greatest science fiction stories of something - it's one of the most affecting and memorable stories I've ever read. 
I was impressed both by the skill and the variety of tone and topic in these stories.

The End is Nigh edited by John Joseph Adams. Goodreads synopsis: Famine. Death. War. Pestilence. These are the harbingers of the biblical apocalypse, of the End of the World. In science fiction, the end is triggered by less figurative means: nuclear holocaust, biological warfare/pandemic, ecological disaster, or cosmological cataclysm.
But before any catastrophe, there are people who see it coming. During, there are heroes who fight against it. And after, there are the survivors who persevere and try to rebuild. THE APOCALYPSE TRIPTYCH will tell their stories.
Edited by acclaimed anthologist John Joseph Adams and bestselling author Hugh Howey, THE APOCALYPSE TRIPTYCH is a series of three anthologies of apocalyptic fiction. THE END IS NIGH focuses on life before the apocalypse. THE END IS NOW turns its attention to life during the apocalypse. And THE END HAS COME focuses on life after the apocalypse.
THE END IS NIGH features all-new, never-before-published works by Hugh Howey, Paolo Bacigalupi, Jamie Ford, Seanan McGuire, Tananarive Due, Jonathan Maberry, Robin Wasserman, Nancy Kress, Charlie Jane Anders, Ken Liu, and many others.

Being a fan of apocalyptic fiction in general, and this editor in particular, I was all over this anthology, which did not disappoint. I didn't realize at first that many of the authors are actually writing three linked stories for the three anthologies; I recently got the second anthology and have been toggling between the two on my Kindle, re-reading the first stories before reading the second. They are almost all of uniformly high quality, which several stand-outs.  Also, at the time of writing, the second book is $.99 on Kindle. 

After the End: Recent Apocalypses edited by Paula Guran. Goodreads synopsis: From the Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh to Norse prophecies of Ragnarok to the Revelations of Saint John to Cormac McCarthy's The Road, and any number of fictional zombie Armageddons and the dystopic world of The Hunger Games, we have always wondered what will happen after the world as we know it ends. No matter what the doomsday scenario - cataclysmic climate change, political chaos, societal collapse, nuclear war, pestilence, or so many other dreaded variations - we inevitably believe that even though the world perishes, some portion of humankind will live on. Such stories involve death and disaster, but they are also tales of rebirth and survival. Grim or triumphant, these outstanding, post-apocalyptic stories selected from the best of those published in the tumultuous last decade allow us to consider what life will be like after the end.

Really solid collection, with only one or two that didn't grab me. Favourites: Never, Never, Three Times Never by Simon Morden, Amaryllis by Carrie Vaughn and A Story, With Beans, by Steven Gould. The Brian Evenson story was predictably bleak and creepy (in a positive sense, as odd as that sounds).

Lightspeed: Year One edited by John Joseph Adams. Goodreads 
synopsis: Lightspeed ( is the critically-acclaimed, online science fiction magazine edited by bestselling anthologist John Joseph Adams. Lightspeed publishes all types of science fiction, from near-future, sociological soft sf, to far-future, star-spanning hard sf, and anything and everything in between. Each month, Lightspeed features a mix of originals and reprints, from a variety of authors - from the bestsellers and award-winners you already know to the best new voices you haven''t heard of yet. 
Now, in Lightspeed: Year One, you will find all of the fiction published in Lightspeed''s first year, from new stories such as Nebula Award finalists, Vylar Kaftan''s "I''m Alive, I Love You, I''ll See You in Reno" and "Arvies" by Adam-Troy Castro, and Carrie Vaughn''s Hugo Award-nominee "Amaryllis," to classic reprints by Stephen King, Ursula K. Le Guin, George R. R. Martin, and more.

There were one or two I skimmed, but overall this collection blew me away - a few of the entries were so unutterably stark and sad that reading them felt like swallowing stones, and yet they were so brilliant that I went back and read them again. And then there was Susan Palwick's Cucumber Gravy, like a sunny glade in a dark forest. So, so good. Made me a reader of Lightspeed magazine.

Store of the Worlds: the Stories of Robert Sheckley by Robert Sheckley. Goodreads synopsis: An NYRB Classics Original
Robert Sheckley was an eccentric master of the American  short story, and his tales, whether set in dystopic city­scapes, ultramodern advertising agencies, or aboard spaceships lighting out for hostile planets, are among the most startlingly original of the twentieth century. Today, as the new worlds, alternate universes, and synthetic pleasures Sheckley foretold become our reality, his vision begins to look less absurdist and more prophetic. This retrospective selection, chosen by Jonathan Lethem and Alex Abramovich, brings together the best of Sheckley’s deadpan farces, proving once again that he belongs beside such mordant critics of contemporary mores as Bruce Jay Friedman, Terry Southern, and Thomas Pynchon.

I had it in my head that this was one of the books I'd read because it was referenced in Among Others (there's a whole section for those books in this post), but now I realize that I read it too recently for that to be true. So I'm not sure who mentioned or recommended it, but it's wonderful - his sensibility is prescient, insightful, melancholy, kind and funny. 

Science Fiction/Fantasy:

The Martian by Andy Weir. Goodreads synopsis: Apollo 13 meets Cast Away in this grippingly detailed, brilliantly ingenious man-vs-nature survival thriller, set on the surface of Mars.
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first men to walk on the surface of Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first man to die there.
It started with the dust storm that holed his suit and nearly killed him, and that forced his crew to leave him behind, sure he was already dead. Now he's stranded millions of miles from the nearest human being, with no way to even signal Earth that he's alive--and even if he could get word out, his food would be gone years before a rescue mission could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to get him first.
But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills--and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit--he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

Okay. Guys. I read about this book and the review was all 'you HAVE to read it' and I was all "okay, fine, but it's about a guy stuck in space, it's going to be all philosophical and meandering and all about the lone and level space-sands stretching far away etc. etc. 
It's not. It's like if The Bloggess got stuck on Mars and knew sciencey stuff.
I started reading this at Zarah's and couldn't stop reading it. I told her to read it. I gave it to my mother-in-law's husband for Christmas and he read the whole thing on Boxing Day. I gave it to Matt and he finished it before new year's eve, when he lent it to a husband and wife couple at our new year's party. They both read it and loved it even after we hyped it to a ridiculous degree. Now it's being made into a movie. 

Lexicon by Max Barry. Goodreads synopsis: At an exclusive school somewhere outside of Arlington, Virginia, students aren't taught history, geography, or mathematics--at least not in the usual ways. Instead, they are taught to persuade. Here the art of coercion has been raised to a science. Students harness the hidden power of language to manipulate the mind and learn to break down individuals by psychographic markers in order to take control of their thoughts. The very best will graduate as "poets", adept wielders of language who belong to a nameless organization that is as influential as it is secretive.
Whip-smart orphan Emily Ruff is making a living running a three-card Monte game on the streets of San Francisco when she attracts the attention of the organization's recruiters. She is flown across the country for the school's strange and rigorous entrance exams, where, once admitted, she will be taught the fundamentals of persuasion by Bronte, Eliot, and Lowell--who have adopted the names of famous poets to conceal their true identities. For in the organization, nothing is more dangerous than revealing who you are: Poets must never expose their feelings lest they be manipulated. Emily becomes the school's most talented prodigy until she makes a catastrophic mistake: She falls in love.
Meanwhile, a seemingly innocent man named Wil Jamieson is brutally ambushed by two strange men in an airport bathroom. Although he has no recollection of anything they claim he's done, it turns out Wil is the key to a secret war between rival factions of poets and is quickly caught in their increasingly deadly crossfire. Pursued relentlessly by people with powers he can barely comprehend and protected by the very man who first attacked him, Wil discovers that everything he thought he knew about his past was fiction. In order to survive, must journey to the toxically decimated town of Broken Hill, Australia, to discover who he is and why an entire town was blown off the map.
As the two narratives converge, the shocking work of the poets is fully revealed, the body count rises, and the world crashes toward a Tower of Babel event which would leave all language meaningless. Max Barry's most spellbinding and ambitious novel yet, Lexicon is a brilliant thriller that explores language, power, identity, and our capacity to love--whatever the cost.

Like Harry Potter except with dysfunctional grown-ups instead of charmingly quirky kids, and everyone does a lot of twisted freaky shit with twisted freaky words. I loved it. Not entirely sure I can recommend it to anyone but a small sub-section of twisted freaky friends. 

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. Goodreads synopsis: On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born, the third child of a wealthy English banker and his wife. Sadly, she dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in any number of ways. Clearly history (and Kate Atkinson) have plans for her: In Ursula rests nothing less than the fate of civilization.
Wildly inventive, darkly comic, startlingly poignant — this is Kate Atkinson at her absolute best, playing with time and history, telling a story that is breathtaking for both its audacity and its endless satisfactions. 

I'm not sure if I can review this without sounding like I've added all my friends' reviews together and averaged them out. 
For at least a third, maybe half, I was thinking "I don't really like this. It's glib. Ursula is so gormless. Why does she keep letting herself die in such tiresome ways? I don't like this. I would probably like this more if Kate Atkinson hadn't written it". For the second third, I started to think that there were actually moments in it that I loved, but I still wasn't wholly swept up in the work as a whole. Then at some point I started to become aware of the elaborate, spiralling structure of the book, and certain things were repeated to great effect, making me wonder if other things were repeated and I was missing them, and I felt like maybe I wasn't doing justice to it. I used to always feel like it was my failing if I didn't grasp a book, and then for a while I switched over to thinking it was the author's fault, and now I think it's probably hard to say, sometimes one, sometimes the other, dependent on many factors (a nice, middle-aged, wishy-washy stance, don't you think?) I'm still not convinced that it was entirely successful, but I ended up feeling more admiration than I expected to.

The Quick by Lauren Owen. Goodreads synopsis: An astonishing debut, a novel of epic scope and suspense that conjures up all the magic and menace of Victorian London. 
London, 1892: James Norbury, a shy would-be poet newly down from Oxford, finds lodging with a charming young aristocrat. Through this new friendship, he is introduced to the drawing-rooms of high society, and finds love in an unexpected quarter. Then, suddenly, he vanishes without a trace. Unnerved, his sister, Charlotte, sets out from their crumbling country estate determined to find him. In the sinister, labyrinthine city that greets her, she uncovers a secret world at the margins populated by unforgettable characters: a female rope walker turned vigilante, a street urchin with a deadly secret, and the chilling “Doctor Knife.” But the answer to her brother’s disappearance ultimately lies within the doors of one of the country’s preeminent and mysterious institutions: The Aegolius Club, whose members include the most ambitious, and most dangerous, men in England. 
In her first novel, Lauren Owen has created a fantastical world that is both beguiling and terrifying. The Quick will establish her as one of fiction’s most dazzling talents.
Named One of the Top 10 Literary Fiction Books of the Season by Publishers Weekly

One of the quirks of reading NetGalley copies of books is that I request them because they look interesting, but by the time I read them I've forgotten the plot synopsis, so the process is even more one of discovery than usual. I started reading this book, which seemed like a pleasant little Victorian tale with some interesting characters. The experience was akin to (in the words of one of my English professors) being led down the garden path and then clobbered by a birdfeeder - you know, in a good way. It was "oh, it's actually a THIS KIND OF book - neat" and then shortly thereafter, "oh, and also a THAT KIND OF book - cool". It was a little different, with a lot of action, a new spin on an old trope, and two unconventional and affecting love stories. 
I also feel like I should add that if you type the title into the Goodreads search box and accidentally leave out the 'i', you get a book called What's Wrong With My Handgun Shooting? Make of that what you will.

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares. Goodreads synopsis:An unforgettable epic romantic thriller about a girl from the future who might be able to save the world . . . if she lets go of the one thing she’s found to hold on to.
Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.
This is the story of seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins.
Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth.
But everything changes when Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves.
From Ann Brashares, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, The Here and Now is thrilling, exhilarating, haunting, and heartbreaking—and a must-read novel of the year.

Reminded me a little of When You Reach Me, although not quite as transporting - what could be? Quite good, though - solid world-building with an all-too-credible extreme logical conclusion resulting from the way we live now; empathetic characters, and lacking the thing which makes me spit in these kinds of books, which is the time-traveller/alien/whoever saying "I can't tell you my secret" and the love interest saying "but I love you and you should trust me" and the time-traveller/alien/whoever saying "oh, okay" (this is because the way Ethan first meets Prenna already makes it obvious that she's not 'from around here'). Great story

Vicious by V.E. Schwab. Goodreads synopsis: A masterful, twisted tale of ambition, jealousy, betrayal, and superpowers, set in a near-future world. 
Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end? 
In Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn’t automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question.'

I wouldn't recommend this to anyone who requires a likable protagonist. Personally, I do not, and I thought this was great, in a sort of chilling, stark way. I enjoyed the attempt to put a scientific spin on "superpowers", and the drawing of the relationship between two highly intelligent, completely dysfunctional personalities was artfully done. The question of whether one can have powers and still remain human was also thought-provoking.

Yesterday's Kin by Nancy Kress. Goodreads synopsis: Aliens have landed in New York. 
A deadly cloud of spores has already infected and killed the inhabitants of two worlds. Now that plague is heading for Earth, and threatens humans and aliens alike. Can either species be trusted to find the cure?
Geneticist Marianne Jenner is immersed in the desperate race to save humanity, yet her family is tearing itself apart. Siblings Elizabeth and Ryan are strident isolationists who agree only that an alien conspiracy is in play. Marianne’s youngest, Noah, is a loner addicted to a drug that constantly changes his identity. But between the four Jenners, the course of human history will be forever altered. 
Earth’s most elite scientists have ten months to prevent human extinction—and not everyone is willing to wait.

Interesting, thoughtful and plausible, both scientifically and in the family and human interactions. Marianne's character is believable and sympathetic, and the description of the aliens and the alien/human interaction is really well done. The Sugarcane drug is a particularly clever device. Nancy Kress has always been adept at envisioning the extreme logical conclusion of present-day attitudes and trends - the U.S. isolationism in this book is a good example. The character of Noah, as the lost, drifting youngest child of the family is quite compelling, as is his ultimate fate. 

Sleep Donation by Karen Russell. Goodreads synopsis: From the author of the New York Times bestseller Swamplandia!, and finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, an imaginative and haunting novella about an insomnia epidemic set in the near future.
A crisis has swept America. Hundreds of thousands have lost the ability to sleep. Enter the Slumber Corps, an organization that urges healthy dreamers to donate sleep to an insomniac. Under the wealthy and enigmatic Storch brothers the Corps' reach has grown, with outposts in every major US city. Trish Edgewater, whose sister Dori was one of the first victims of the lethal insomnia, has spent the past seven years recruiting for the Corps. But Trish’s faith in the organization and in her own motives begins to falter when she is confronted by “Baby A,” the first universal sleep donor, and the mysterious "Donor Y."
Sleep Donation explores a world facing the end of sleep as we know it, where “Night Worlds” offer black market remedies to the desperate and sleep deprived, and where even the act of making a gift is not as simple as it appears.

Hauntingly beautiful. As someone periodically plagued by insomnia, the descriptions rang utterly true to me. This had all of the eerily lovely imagery of her short stories, with a stronger plot. As sleep comes at a higher and higher premium in modern society, this scenario seems horribly realistic. I don't know if it's part of some zeitgeist or just a fluke that I've happened upon quite a few books about insomnia plagues recently (this one and this one,  and this one). I just wish we weren't all so tired. 

We Are Here by Michael Marshall. Goodreads synopsis: An intelligent, page-turning thriller from the international bestselling author of THE STRAW MEN.
It should have been the greatest day of David's life. A trip to New York, wife by his side, to visit his new publisher. Finally, after years of lonely struggle it looks as though the gods of fate are on his side. But on the way back to Penn station, a chance encounter changes all of that. David bumps into a man who covertly follows him and, just before he boards the train, passes by him close enough to whisper: 'Remember me.'
When the stranger turns up in his home town, David begins to understand that this man wants something from him...something very personal that he may have no choice but to surrender.
Meanwhile, back in New York, ex-lawyer John Henderson does his girlfriend Kristina a favour and agrees to talk to Catherine Warren, an acquaintance of hers who believes she's being stalked by an ex-lover. But soon John realises that Catherine's problem is far more complex and terrifying than he could ever have imagined...
There are people out there in the shadows, watching, waiting. They are the forgotten. And they're about to turn.

"Intelligent, page-turning thriller" is a pretty good way to describe most books by this author, in my opinion. You never get quite what it starts out looking like, and it's always more challenging and thought-provoking and imaginative than you expect. I don't know if I mention this every time I review a book by him, but I once emailed him a fan letter saying that I found his books "both insightful and readable, suffused with a kind of hopeful melancholy", which he said he really liked as a description. Nothing I've read since has changed this opinion. He told me that he once met Stephen King and was so awestruck that he couldn't speak. I think he's more than capable of matching words with Stephen King. 


Steph Lovelady said...

The Martian sounds gripping. Maybe I will try it.

Lynn said...

We own The Martian - I bought it for my husband on his birthday last year - but I haven't gotten around to it yet. Sounds like I am going to love it - my husband was actually lukewarm on it so I've been putting it off, but I think I will like it more than he did.

John Dunning sounds interesting - I've put the first Clive Janeway book on my kindle wish list.

Nicole said...

I don't love fantasy or sci-fi, but I DID read We Never Talk About My Brother based on your recommendation and I loved it xoxoxo

Alison said...

Ooh, lots more for my to-read list. And I rarely read sci-fi or fantasy, so you did a good job "selling" them!

Sasha said...

Deadline - the Goodreads didn't sell me on this one, but "rambling discourses about books and bookstores"? Suddenly you have my attention. :).

Same goes for "beautifully written, oblique, yet highly readable", although I know you just borrowed that.

Oh, and I nearly skipped the Sci-Fi section (so much for "expanding my horizons") when I tripped over "It's like if The Bloggess got stuck on Mars and knew sciencey stuff." Ha. And I don't even read The Bloggess (mostly professional jealousy I think... pathetic, I know.)

Lexicon... thoroughly intrigued, but not sure if I'm twisted & freaky enough. I guess this will be a test.

Life After Life is so hard to pin down, isn't it? I'm having a wicked deja vue here (irony not intended), I'm sure I've written this before but not (apparently) in Goodreads, so apologies if you've read it before: I found the staccato rhythm of the beginning so jarring that I nearly put it down. I felt like the ending(s) (or the goal of the endings?) was unnecessarily grandiose, the intensity of the ordinary humans in the story was enough, the Fuhrer wasn't really needed, you know? So quite a few things I didn't like about it, but at the same time found it so compelling that I went back and started again from the beginning after just getting 3/4 of the way through, rather than get to the end too soon. Which I suppose has the same irony(?) as the deja vue. It's like it wasn't a book so much as an experience. And it's still sitting on my bedside table, I daresay I may pick it up again. I'd love to review it some time if I could just get my thoughts into some semblance of order.

The review for The Quick had me at "Victorian London", I have a soft spot for anything set in the London. But then it's described as terrifying... gawd I am such a literary wuss. It seems all I ever want is quirky likeable narrators in quirky likeable worlds with quirky unscary endings. Still adding it to the list, though.