May 11, 2009

Releasing this week

Bestsellers Preston and Child kill off a regular supporting character at the outset of this suspenseful tale of urban terror, their ninth to feature FBI special agent Aloysius Pendergast (after The Wheel of Darkness). William Smithback, a New York Times reporter, and his wife, Nora Kelly, an anthropologist with the New York Museum of Natural History, are celebrating their first anniversary when Smithback is fatally stabbed in their Manhattan apartment, apparently by a creepy neighbor, Colin Fearing, an out-of-work British actor. Given eyewitness descriptions of the killer, including one from Kelly herself, as well as surveillance footage showing a blood-stained Fearing emerging from the apartment building right after the crime, the case appears to be open and shut—until Pendergast and his NYPD ally, Lt. Vincent D'Agosta, learn that Fearing died almost two weeks earlier. This taut page-turner can only add to the authors' growing fan base.

A year after 12-year-old Alyssa Merrimon disappeared on her way home from the library in an unnamed rural North Carolina town, her twin brother, Johnny, continues to search the town, street by street, even visiting the homes of known sex offenders, in this chilling novel from Edgar-winner Hart (Down River). Det. Clyde Hunt, the lead cop on Alyssa's case, keeps a watchful eye on Johnny and his mother, who has deteriorated since Alyssa's abduction and her husband's departure soon afterward. When a second girl is snatched, Johnny is even more determined to find his sister, convinced that the perpetrator is the same person who took Alyssa. But what he unearths is more sinister than anyone imagined, sending shock waves through the community and putting Johnny's own life in danger. Despite a tendency to dip into melodrama, Hart spins an impressively layered tale of broken families and secrets that can kill.

Bosnian-born Hemon (The Lazarus Project) again beautifully twists the language in this collection of eight powerful and disquieting stories. The 1992 Bosnian war colors in the background of all the tales, whose settings range from Africa to Chicago and Sarajevo. Arranged chronologically, all but one feature a Hemon-like narrator named Bogdan, first met as a surly teenager during his diplomat father's assignment in Zaire, where he's happily corrupted by a degenerate American espionage agent. In each successive story, Bogdan recalls the surreal and salient experiences of his life: his youth with his ironically depicted family; his early determination to be a poet; his accidental sojourn in America, where he was caught after the commencement of hostilities in Bosnia; and his return to a cesspool of insignificant, drizzly suffering, where he has a transformative night interviewing a Pulitzer Prize–winning writer. Hemon arranges words like gems in a necklace. A necktie is stretched across the chair seat, like a severed tendon; a car is stickered with someone else's thought; a character's teeth are like organ pipes. Writing with steely control and an antic eye, Hemon has assembled another extraordinary work. (May)
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Be Cool. If Elmore Leonard hadn't already used it for the sequel to Get Shorty, it would have been a natural title for this deliciously breezy follow-up to another Leonard-to-Hollywood hit, Out of Sight. You may best recall Jack Foley, as played by George Clooney, bantering with Jennifer Lopez in the trunk of a jailbreak getaway car, but when Out of Sight ended, Foley was headed back to the clink to finish a 30-year bid. Road Dogs opens with Foley on the van to prison with Cundo Rey, a pint-size Cuban who soon engineers their early release--legally, this time. Jack's happy to be out and enjoying the California hospitality of Cundo and his wife Dawn (both Leonard veterans too, from LaBrava and Riding the Rap). But Dawn is lovely and wily (and maybe a psychic), Cundo is a murderously jealous husband who may well think Jack owes him big-time, and Jack? Well, when you've robbed a hundred-twenty or so banks, is it that easy to go straight? As so often with Leonard, the real fun is less in the action than the talk, especially from Foley, the pleasure-minded, level-headed hood: an ex-con whose biggest con may be that he is exactly who he says he is. --Tom Nissley

It has all been leading to this. Every victory. Every loss. All the thrills and sadness; the hope and despair. Bobby Pendragon's heart-pounding journey through time and space has brought him to this epic moment. He and his fellow Travelers must join forces for one last desperate battle against Saint Dane. At stake is not only the tenth and final territory, but all that ever was or will be. Everywhere. This is the war for Halla. Every question is answered. Every truth is revealed. The final battle has begun.

For twenty years, John Sandford’s novels have been beloved for their “ingenious plots, vivid characters, crisp dialogue and endless surprises” (The Washington Post), and nowhere are those more in evidence than in the sudden twists and shocks of Wicked Prey.

The Republicans are coming to St. Paul for their convention. Throwing a big party is supposed to be fun, but crashing the party are a few hard cases the police would rather stayed away. Chief among them is a crew of professional stickup men who’ve spotted several lucrative opportunities, ranging from political moneymen with briefcases full of cash to that armored-car warehouse with the weakness in its security system. All that’s headache enough for Lucas Davenport—but what’s about to hit him is even worse.

A while back, a stray bullet put a pimp and petty thief named Randy Whitcomb in a wheelchair, and, ever since, the man has been nursing his grudge into a full head of psychotic steam. He blames Davenport for the bullet, but it’s no fun just shooting him. That wouldn’t be painful enough. Not when Davenport has a pretty fourteen-year-old adopted daughter that Whitcomb can target instead. . . .

And then there’s the young man with the .50 caliber sniper rifle and the right- wing-crazy background, roaming through a city filled with the most powerful politicians on earth. . . . Rich with his brilliant trademark suspense and some of the best characters in suspense fiction, Wicked Prey is further proof that “Sandford is one of the most consistently entertaining crime writers working today” (Booklist).

**All summaries were taken from**

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