New and Recommended Fiction for April
The mapmaker's daughter / Laurel Corona (FICTION) -- On the eve of the Jewish expulsion from Spain, Amalia Riba stands at a crossroads. In a country violently divided by religion, she must either convert to Christianity and stay safe, or remain a Jew and risk everything. It's a choice she's been walking toward her whole life, from the days of her youth when her family lit the Shabbat candles in secret. Back then, she saw the vast possibility of the world, outlined in the beautiful pen and ink maps her father created. But the world has shifted and contracted since then. The Mapmaker's Daughter is a stirring novel about identity, exile, and what it means to be home. A close look at the great costs and greater rewards of being true to who you really are. A lyrical journey to the time when the Jews of Spain were faced with the wrenching choice of deciding their future as Jews a pivotal period of history and inspiration today.
Red 1-2-3 / John Katzenbach (MYSTERY FICTION) -- Three women. They have nothing in common. They are different ages, come from different background, and lead drastically different lives. The only thing that binds them together is their red hair—and that each of them has been targeted for murder. When each 'Red' receives a chilling letter in the mail from a killer known only as the Wolf, their lives are upended as they spend every waking moment in the fear that their lives could be snuffed out at any moment. The Wolf is stalking them, biding his time, waiting for the perfect moment to complete his master plan. Yet the one thing this cunning and devious killer didn't plan for is the Reds discovering each other.
Raising steam : a Discworld novel / Terry Pratchett (FANTASY FICTION) -- Steam is rising over Discworld, driven by Mister Simnel, the man with a flat cap and a sliding rule. He has produced a great clanging monster of a machine that harnesses the power of all of the elements—earth, air, fire, and water—and it’s soon drawing astonished crowds. To the consternation of Ankh-Morpork’s formidable Patrician, Lord Vetinari, no one is in charge of this new invention. This needs to be rectified, and who better than the man he has already appointed master of the Post Office, the Mint, and the Royal Bank: Moist von Lipwig. Moist is not a man who enjoys hard work—unless it is dependent on words, which are not very heavy and don’t always need greasing. He does enjoy being alive, however, which makes a new job offer from Vetinari hard to refuse. Moist will have to grapple with gallons of grease, goblins, a fat controller with a history of throwing employees down the stairs, and some very angry dwarfs if he’s going to stop it all from going off the rails . . .
Burning paradise / Robert Charles Wilson (SCIENCE FICTION) -- Cassie Klyne, nineteen years old, lives in the United States in the year 2015--but it's not our United States, and it's not our 2015. Cassie's world has been at peace since the Great Armistice of 1918. There was no World War II, no Great Depression. Poverty is declining, prosperity is increasing everywhere; social instability is rare. But Cassie knows the world isn't what it seems. Her parents were part of a group who gradually discovered the awful truth: that for decades--back to the dawn of radio communications--human progress has been interfered with, made more peaceful and benign, by an extraterrestrial entity. That by interfering with our communications, this entity has tweaked history in massive and subtle ways. That humanity is, for purposes unknown, being farmed. Cassie's parents were killed for this knowledge, along with most of the other members of their group. Since then, the survivors have scattered and gone into hiding. Cassie and her younger brother Thomas now live with her aunt Nerissa, who shares these dangerous secrets. Others live nearby. For eight years they have attempted to lead unexceptional lives in order to escape detection. The tactic has worked. Until now. Because the killers are back. And they're not human.
The dazzling darkness / Paula Cappa (MYSTERY FICTION) -- The Dazzling Darkness is a paranormal mystery set in Concord, Mass. A secret lies buried beneath the haunting statues of Old Willow Cemetery in Concord, Massachusetts. The nearby woods are alive with the spirits of Emerson, Thoreau, and Alcott. Does Elias Hatch, the cemetery keeper, know the power hiding in the old graveyard? On a cold afternoon in March, a neighbor boy, five-year-old Henry Brooke, goes missing. His parents are frantic as hours pass. Then, a police dog tracks Henry's scent inside the nearby cemetery. Detective Mike Balducci suspects that Elias Hatch knows the truth about what happened to the young boy. As shadowy apparitions drift through the trees, Balducci will struggle to unravel the secrets of the dazzled faces in the darkened air in this gripping thriller.
The blazing world / Siri Hustvedt (FICTION) -- When Professor Hess stumbles across an unusual letter to the editor in an art journal, he is surprised to have known so little about the brilliant and mysterious artist it describes, the late Harriet Burden. Intrigued by her story, and by the explosive scandal surrounding her legacy, he begins to interview those who knew her, hoping to separate fact from fiction, only to find himself tumbling down a rabbit's hole of personal and psychological intrigue. Was Harriet Burden one of the greatest artists--male or female--in recent memory, having masterminded a puppet show of grand proportions, or was she a washed-up has-been looking for glory on others' coattails?
The weight of blood / Laura McHugh (MYSTERY FICTION) -- The Dane family's roots tangle deep in the Ozark Mountain town of Henbane, but that doesn't keep sixteen-year-old Lucy Dane from being treated like an outsider. Folks still whisper about her mother, a bewitching young stranger who inspired local myths when she vanished years ago. When one of Lucy's few friends, slow-minded Cheri, is found murdered, Lucy feels haunted by the two lost girls--the mother she never knew and the friend she couldn't protect. Everything changes when Lucy stumbles across Cheri's necklace in an abandoned trailer and finds herself drawn into a search for answers. What Lucy discovers makes it impossible to ignore the suspicion cast on her own kin. More alarming, she suspects Cheri's death could be linked to her mother's disappearance, and the connection between the two puts Lucy at risk of losing everything. In a place where the bonds of blood weigh heavy, Lucy must decide where her allegiances lie.
Blood and iron / Jon Sprunk (FANTASY FICTION) -- It starts with a shipwreck following a magical storm at sea. Horace, a soldier from the west, had joined the Great Crusade against the heathens of Akeshia after the deaths of his wife and son from plague. When he washes ashore, he finds himself at the mercy of the very people he was sent to kill, who speak a language and have a culture and customs he doesn't even begin to understand. Not long after, Horace is pressed into service as a house slave. But this doesn't last. The Akeshians discover that Horace was a latent sorcerer, and he is catapulted from the chains of a slave to the halls of power in the queen's court. Together with Jirom, an ex-mercenary and gladiator, and Alyra, a spy in the court, he will seek a path to free himself and the empire's caste of slaves from a system where every man and woman must pay the price of blood or iron. Before the end, Horace will have paid dearly in both.
The painted table / Suzanne Field (FICTION) -- The Norwegian table, a century-old heirloom ingrained with family memory, has become a totem of a life Saffee would rather forget—a childhood disrupted by her mother’s mental illness. Saffee does not want the table. By the time she inherits the object of her mother’s obsession, the surface is thick with haphazard layers of paint and heavy with unsettling memories. After a childhood spent watching her mother slide steadily into insanity, painting and re-painting the ancient table, Saffee has come to fear that seeds of psychosis may lie dormant within her. She must confront her mother’s torment if she wants to defend herself against it. Traversing four generations over the course of a century, The Painted Table is a beautiful portrait of inherited memory. It is a sprawling narrative affirmation that a family artifact—like a family member—can bear the marks of one’s past . . . as well as intimations of one’s redemption.
The Dunbar case / Peter Corris (MYSTERY FICTION) -- This wasn't Hardy's usual brief - uncover the mysteries of a nineteenth-century shipwreck - but he could do with an easy case and the retainer was generous. But is it ever that simple? Not with a notorious crime family tearing itself apart, and an undercover cop playing both sides against the middle. These and an alluring but fiercely ambitious female journalist give Hardy all the trouble he can handle. 'Ever feel manipulated?' Hardy asks. The body count mounts up as he pushes closer to the truth about the mystery and the loot.
The troop / Nick Cutter (FICTION) -- Once every year, Scoutmaster Tim Riggs leads a troop of boys into the Canadian wilderness for a weekend camping trip—a tradition as comforting and reliable as a good ghost story around a roaring bonfire. The boys are a tight-knit crew. For the most part, they all get along and are happy to be there—which makes Scoutmaster Tim’s job a little easier. But for some reason, he can’t shake the feeling that something strange is in the air this year. Something waiting in the darkness. Something wicked…It comes to them in the night. An unexpected intruder, stumbling upon their campsite like a wild animal. He is shockingly thin, disturbingly pale, and voraciously hungry—a man in unspeakable torment who exposes Tim and the boys to something far more frightening than any ghost story. Within his body is a bioengineered nightmare, a horror that spreads faster than fear. One by one, the boys will do things no person could ever imagine. And so it begins. An agonizing weekend in the wilderness. A harrowing struggle for survival. No possible escape from the elements, the infected…or one another.
Killing Cupid / Laura Levine (MYSTERY FICTION) -- When Jaine lands a job writing web copy and brochures for matchmaker Joy Amoroso, shes excited for a chance to help the lovelorn just in time for Valentines Day until she realizes what Dates of Joy is really all about. Joy is a ruthless taskmaster who screams at her employees for the smallest infractions, pads her website with pictures of professional models posing as clients, and offers up convincing but empty promises of love in exchange for inordinate sums of money. And woe betide anyone who lays a finger on her heavily guarded stash of chocolates. So its no surprise when the chiselling cupid turns up dead at a Valentines Day mixer. Aghast to find herself on the cops suspect list, Jaine sets out to track down the killer. Who could it be? Joy's harried assistants, whose lives she made a living hell? Her younger lover? The handsome hunk of a client with a secret in his past? Or the furious Beverly Hills widow who forked over the last of her savings for a Prince Charming who never materialized? Joy left behind a slew of enemies struck by her deviant arrows, so finding the culprit may prove harder than spotting that elusive caramel praline in a box of chocolates, and Jaine will have to flirt with danger to get to the truth.
The tropic of serpents : a memoir by Lady Trent / Marie Brennan (FANTASY FICTION) -- Three years after her fateful journeys through the forbidding mountains of Vystrana in which she lost her husband, Lady Isabella Trent defies family and convention to embark on an expedition to the savage, war-torn continent of Eriga, home of such exotic draconian species as the grass-dwelling snakes of the savannah, arboreal tree snakes and, most elusive of all, the legendary swamp-wyrms of the tropics. The expedition is not an easy one. Accompanied by both an old associate and a runaway heiress, Isabella must brave oppressive heat, merciless fevers, palace intrigues, gossip and other hazards in order to satisfy her boundless fascination with all things draconian, even if it means venturing deep into the forbidden jungle known as the Green Hell.