New and Recommended Fiction for January
The Red Queen dies : a mystery / Frankie Y. Bailey (MYSTERY FICTION) -- The year is 2019, and a drug used to treat soldiers for post-traumatic stress disorder, nicknamed "Lullaby," has hit the streets. Swallowing a little pill erases traumatic memories, but what happens to a criminal trial when the star witness takes a pill and can't remember the crime? When two women are murdered in quick succession, biracial police detective Hannah McCabe is charged with solving the case. In spite of the advanced technology, including a city-wide surveillance program, a third woman is soon killed, and the police begin to suspect that a serial killer is on the loose. But the third victim, a Broadway actress known as “The Red Queen,” doesn’t fit the pattern set by the first two murders. With the late September heat sizzling, Detective Hannah McCabe and her colleagues on the police force have to race to find the killer in a tangled web of clues that involve Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, and Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. Fast-paced and original, this is a one-of-a-kind mystery from an extremely talented crime writer.
Innocence / Dean Koontz (FICTION) -- He lives in solitude beneath the city, an exile from society, which will destroy him if he is ever seen. She dwells in seclusion, a fugitive from enemies who will do her harm if she is ever found. Foraging for supplies by night in a beautiful but hostile urban world where strangers would kill him on sight, Addison endures a solitary existence before meeting a quicksilver girl engaged in a dangerous duel of wits with a malicious, well-placed enemy. But the bond between them runs deeper than the tragedies that have scarred their lives. Something more than chance—and nothing less than destiny—has brought them together in a world whose hour of reckoning is fast approaching.
A conspiracy of faith / Jussi Adler-Olsen ; translated by Martin Aitken (MYSTERY FICTION) -- Detective Carl Mørck has received a bottle that holds an old and decayed message written in blood. It's a cry for help from two young brothers bound in a boathouse by the sea. After floating for years, the bottle sat forgotten, unopened, on a police department windowsill, before the seal was cracked and the gruesome message, written in Danish, was analyzed. Could it be real? Who are these boys, and why weren't they reported missing? Could they still be alive? Detective Mørck follows leads to a desperate woman trapped in a brutal marriage to a man who keeps her in isolation and hides deadly secrets.
Something more than night / Ian Tregillis (FICTION) -- Ian Tregillis's Something More Than Night is a Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler inspired murder mystery set in Thomas Aquinas’s vision of Heaven. It’s a noir detective story starring fallen angels, the heavenly choir, nightclub stigmatics, a priest with a dirty secret, a femme fatale, and the Voice of God. Somebody has murdered the angel Gabriel. Worse, the Jericho Trumpet has gone missing, putting Heaven on the brink of a truly cosmic crisis. But the twisty plot that unfolds from the murder investigation leads to something much bigger: a con job one billion years in the making. Because this is no mere murder. A small band of angels has decided to break out of heaven, but they need a human patsy to make their plan work.
Dangerous women / George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, ed. (FANTASY FICTION) -- All new and original to this volume, the 21 stories in Dangerous Women include work by twelve New York Times bestsellers, and seven stories set in the authors' bestselling continuities--including a new "Outlander" story by Diana Gabaldon, a tale of Harry Dresden's world by Jim Butcher, a story from Lev Grossman set in the world of The Magicians, and a 35,000-word novella by George R. R. Martin about the Dance of the Dragons, the vast civil war that tore Westeros apart nearly two centuries before the events of A Game of Thrones. Also included are original stories of dangerous women--heroines and villains alike--by Brandon Sanderson, Joe Abercrombie, Sherilynn Kenyon, Lawrence Block, Carrie Vaughn, S. M. Stirling, Sharon Kay Penman, and many others.
Fortune's pawn / Rachel Bach (SCIENCE FICTION) -- When professional mercenary Deviana Morris took the security guard job aboard the Glorious Fool, all she wanted was a fast route into the Devastators -- the elite league of armored fighters entrusted with the most important duty on her home planet of Paradox. But this security job isn't just twelve-hour patrols, armor-polishing, and whiskey. The supposedly-cursed Captain Caldswell keeps sending Devi and her partner into unimaginably dangerous situations. Ren, the captain's daughter, is a kind of weird that Devi has never experienced before. And to top it off, there's the insufferably sexy cook, Rupert Chekov, who is far more than what he seems -- possibly even far more than human.
Aunty Lee's delights / Ovidia Yu (MYSTERY FICTION) -- Occasional sleuth and proprietor of Singapore's best-loved home cooking restaurant, feisty widow Rosie "Aunty" Lee helps rookie Police Commissioner Raja investigate the murder of one of her wealthy patrons by using her connections and uncanny ability to track down clues. Wise, witty, and charming, Aunty Lee's Delights is a spicy mystery about love, friendship, and food in Singapore, where money flows freely and people of many religions and ethnicities coexist peacefully, but where tensions lurk just below the surface, sometimes with deadly consequences.
Paris was the place / Susan Conley (FICTION) -- From acclaimed author Susan Conley, a novel that gives us a luminous emotional portrait of a young woman living abroad in Paris in the 1980s and trying to make sense of the chaotic world around her as she learns the true meaning of family. When Willie Pears agrees to teach at a Parisian center for immigrant girls who have requested French asylum, she has no idea it will utterly change her life. She has lived in Paris for six months, surrounded by the most important people in her life: her beloved brother, Luke, her funny and wise college roommate, Sara, and Sara's do-gooder husband, Rajiv. And now there is Macon Ventri, a passionate, dedicated attorney for the detained girls. Theirs is a meeting of both hearts and minds--but not without its problems. As Willie becomes more involved with the immigrant girls who touch her soul, the lines between teaching and mothering are blurred. She is especially drawn to Gita, a young Indian girl who is determined to be free. Ultimately Willie will make a decision with potentially dire consequences to both her relationship with Macon and the future of the center. Meanwhile, Luke is taken with a serious, as-yet-unnamed illness, and Willie will come to understand the power of unconditional love while facing the dark days of his death. Conley has written a piercing, deeply humane novel that explores the connections between family and friends and reaffirms the strength of the ties that bind.
Rosemary and crime / Gail Oust (MYSTERY FICTION) -- Piper Prescott, a transplanted Yankee living in the South, has got her sass back. She might be down, but don't count her out. "Change of life?" she asks. Bring it on. Recently divorced, Piper decides to pursue a dream she's secretly harbored: owning her own business, Spice it Up!, a spice shop in her adopted hometown, Brandywine Creek, Georgia. But Piper's grand opening goes awry when the local chef who's agreed to do a cooking demo is found stabbed. Not only did Piper find the body, she handled the murder weapon and doesn't have a witness to her alibi, making the case look like a slam dunk to brand new police Chief Wyatt McBride. Desperate to uncover the truth--and prove her innocence--Piper enlists the help of her outspoken BFF Reba Mae Johnson to help track down the real culprit.
Teatime for the firefly / Shona Patel (FICTION) -- 1940's India. During this volatile and transitional time in the country's fight for independence, Layla is astrologically doomed never to marry. Manik's career and arranged marriage were charted for success. But by cleverly manipulating the hand fortune has dealt her, Layla has found love with Manik. Layla's life as a newly married woman takes her away from home and into the jungles of Assam, where the world's finest tea thrives on plantations run by native labor and British efficiency. Fascinated by this culture of whiskey-soaked expats who seem fazed by neither earthquakes nor man-eating leopards, she struggles to find her place among the prickly English wives with whom she is expected to socialize, and the peculiar servants she now finds under her charge.
The land across / Gene Wolfe (SCIENCE FICTION) -- An American writer of travel guides in need of a new location chooses to travel to a small and obscure Eastern European country. The moment Grafton crosses the border he is in trouble, much more than he could have imagined. His passport is taken by guards, and then he is detained for not having it. He is released into the custody of a family, but is again detained. It becomes evident that there are supernatural agencies at work, but they are not in some ways as threatening as the brute forces of bureaucracy and corruption in that country. Is our hero in fact a spy for the CIA? Or is he an innocent citizen caught in a Kafkaesque trap? Gene Wolfe keeps us guessing until the very end, and after.
Fiendish schemes / K. W. Jeter (SCIENCE FICTION) -- In 1986 K. W. Jeter coined the term "steampunk," applying it to his first Victorian-era science fiction alternate-history adventure. At last he has returned, with a tale of George Dower, son of the inventor of Infernal Devices, who has been in new self-imposed exile...accumulating debts. The world Dower left when he went into hiding was significantly simpler than the new, steam-powered Victorian London, a mad whirl of civilization filled with gadgets and gears in the least expected places. After accepting congratulations for his late father's grandest invention--a walking, steam-powered lighthouse--Dower is enticed by the prospect of financial gain into a web of intrigue with ominously mysterious players who have nefarious plans of which he can only guess. If he can locate and make his father's Vox Universalis work as it was intended, his future, he is promised, is assured. But his efforts are confounded by the strange Vicar Stonebrake, who promises him aid, but is more interested in converting sentient whales to Christianity--and making money--than in helping George. Drugged, arrested, and interrogated by men, women, and the steam-powered Prime Minister, Dower is trapped in a maelstrom of secrets, corruption, and schemes that threaten to drown him in the chaos of this mad new world
The Invisible Code / Christopher Fowler (MYSTERY FICTION) -- When a young woman is found dead in the pews of St. Bride's Church--alone and showing no apparent signs of trauma--Arthur Bryant assumes this case will go to the Peculiar Crimes Unit, an eccentric team tasked with solving London's most puzzling murders. Yet the city police take over the investigation, and the PCU is given an even more baffling and bewitching assignment. Called into headquarters by Oskar Kasavian, the head of Home Office security, Bryant and May are shocked to hear that their longtime adversary now desperately needs their help. Oskar's wife, Sabira, has been acting strangely for weeks--succumbing to violent mood swings, claiming an evil presence is bringing her harm--and Oskar wants the PCU to find out why ... When a second bizarre death reveals a surprising link between the two women's cases, Bryant and May set off on a trail of clues from the notorious Bedlam hospital to historic Bletchley Park. And as they are drawn into a world of encrypted codes and symbols, concealed rooms and high-society clubs, they must work quickly to catch a killer who lurks even closer than they think.
The skull and the nightingale / Michael Irwin (FICTION) -- When Richard Fenwick returns to London, his wealthy godfather, James Gilbert, has an unexpected proposition. Gilbert has led a sedate life in Worcestershire, but feels the urge to experience, even vicariously, the extremes of human feeling: love, passion, and something much more sinister. It becomes apparent that Gilbert desires news filled with tales of carousing, flirtation, excess, and London’s more salacious side. But Gilbert’s elaborate and manipulative “experiments” into the workings of human behavior soon drag Richard into a Faustian vortex of betrayal and danger where lives are ruined and tragedy is only a step away.
The collector of lost things / Jeremy Page (FICTION) -- The year is 1845 and young researcher Eliot Saxby is paid to go on an expedition to the Arctic in the hope of finding remains of the by-now-extinct Great Auk, a large flightless bird of mythical status. Eliot joins a hunting ship, but the crew and the passengers are not what they seem. Caught in the web of relationships on board, Eliot struggles to understand the motivations of the sociopathic Captain Sykes; the silent First Mate, French; the flamboyant laudanum-addicted Bletchley; and most importantly of all, Bletchley's beautiful but strange 'cousin' Clara. As the ship moves further and further into the wilds of the Arctic Sea, Eliot clings to what he believes in, desperate to save Clara but irrevocably drawn back into a past that haunts him—and a present that confronts him with a myriad of dangers.