New and Recommended Fiction for November
The last banquet / Jonathan Grimwood (FICTION) -- Set against the backdrop of the Enlightenment, the delectable decadence of Versailles, and the French Revolution, The Last Banquet is an intimate epic that tells the story of one man’s quest to know the world through its many and marvelous flavors. Jean-Marie d’Aumout will try anything once, with consequences that are at times mouthwatering and at others fascinatingly macabre (Three Snake Bouillabaisse anyone? Or perhaps some pickled Wolf's Heart?). When he is not obsessively searching for a new taste d’Aumout is a fast friend, a loving husband, a doting father, and an imaginative lover. He befriends Ben Franklin, corresponds with the Marquis de Sade and Voltaire, becomes a favorite at Versailles, thwarts a peasant uprising, improves upon traditional French methods of contraception, plays an instrumental role in the Corsican War of Independence, and constructs France’s finest menagerie. But d’Aumout’s every adventurous turn is decided by his at times dark obsession to know all the world’s flavors before that world changes irreversibly.
The elixir of immortality / by Gabi Gleichmann (FICTION) -- Since the eleventh century, the Spinoza family has passed down, from father to son, a secret manuscript containing the recipe for immortality. Now, after thirty-six generations, the last descendant of this long and illustrious chain, Ari Spinoza, doesn’t have a son to whom to entrust the manuscript. From his deathbed, he begins his narrative, hoping to save his lineage from oblivion. Ari’s two main sources of his family’s history are a trunk of yellowing documents inherited from his grandfather, and his great-uncle Fernando’s tales that captivated him when he was a child. He chronicles the Spinozas’ involvement in some of Europe’s most formative cultural events with intertwining narratives that move through ages of tyranny, creativity, and social upheaval.
Meet me at the Cupcake Café : a novel with recipes / Jenny Colgan (FICTION) -- ssy Randall can bake. No, Issy can create stunning, mouthwateringly divine cakes. After a childhood spent in her beloved Grampa Joe's bakery, she has undoubtedly inherited his talent. She's much better at baking than she is a filing so when she's laid off from her desk job, Issy decides to open her own little café. But she soon learns that her piece-of-cake plan will take all of her courage and confectionary talent to avert disaster. Funny and sharp, Meet Me at the Cupcake Café is about how life might not always taste like you expect, but there's always room for dessert!
The Republic of Thieves / Scott Lynch (FANTASY FICTION) -- A latest installment in the popular series that includes Red Seas Under Red Skies finds con man Locke Lamora's latest scrapes with fellow Gentleman Bastard Jean Tannen giving way to an increasingly audacious resolve to have an incredibly good time while robbing the world blind. With what should have been the greatest heist of their career gone spectacularly sour, Locke and his trusted partner, Jean, have barely escaped with their lives. Or at least Jean has. But Locke is slowly succumbing to a deadly poison that no alchemist or physiker can cure. Yet just as the end is near, a mysterious Bondsmage offers Locke an opportunity that will either save him or finish him off once and for all. Magi political elections are imminent, and the factions are in need of a pawn. If Locke agrees to play the role, sorcery will be used to purge the venom from his body—though the process will be so excruciating he may well wish for death. Locke is opposed, but two factors cause his will to crumble: Jean’s imploring—and the Bondsmage’s mention of a woman from Locke’s past: Sabetha. She is the love of his life, his equal in skill and wit, and now, his greatest rival.
Cain's blood / Geoffrey Girard (SCIENCE FICTION) -- The DNA of the world’s most notorious serial killers has been cloned by the U.S. Department of Defense to develop a new breed of bioweapon. Now in Phase Three, the program includes dozens of young men who have no clue as to their evil heritage. Playing a twisted game of nature vs. nurture, scientists raise some of the clones with loving families and others in abusive circumstances. But everything changes when the most dangerous boys are set free by their creator. A man with demons of his own, former black ops soldier Shawn Castillo is hot on their trail. But Castillo didn’t count on the quiet young man he finds hiding in an abandoned house—a boy who has just learned he is the clone of Jeffrey Dahmer. As Jeffrey and Castillo race across the country on the trail of the rampaging teens, Castillo must protect the boy who is the embodiment of his biggest fears—and who may also be his last hope. Melding all-too-plausible science and ripped from- the-headlines horror, Cain’s Blood is a stunning debut about the potential for good and evil in us all.
The case of the love commandos : from the files of Vish Puri, India's most private investigator / Tarquin Hall (MYSTERY FICTION) -- When Ram and Tulsi fall in love, the young woman's parents are dead set against the union. She's from a high-caste family; he's an Untouchable, from the lowest stratum of Indian society. Young Tulsi's father locks her up and promises to hunt down the 'loverboy dog.' Fortunately, India's Love Commandos, a real-life group of volunteers dedicated to helping mixed-caste couples, come to the rescue. Just after they liberate Tulsi, Ram is mysteriously snatched from his hiding place. It falls to Vish Puri to track down Ram and reunite the star-crossed lovers. Unfortunately, Puri's having a bad month. Not only did he fail to recover a stolen cache of jewels, but his wallet was filched and he has to rely on his Mummy-ji to get it back. To top it all off, his archrival, suave investigator Hari Kumar, is also trying to locate Ram. In the daring race to find Ram, Puri and his team must infiltrate Ram's village and navigate the caste politics shaped by millennia-old prejudices.
Nostalgia / Dennis McFarland (FICTION) -- In the winter of 1864, Summerfield Hayes, a pitcher for the famous Eckford Club, enlists in the Union army, leaving his sister, a schoolteacher, devastated and alone in their Brooklyn home. The siblings, who have lost both their parents, are unusually attached, and Hayes fears his untoward secret feelings for his sister. This rich backstory is intercut with scenes of his soul-altering hours on the march and at the front—the slaughter of barely grown young men who only days before whooped it up with him in a regimental ball game; his temporary deafness and disorientation after a shell blast; his fevered attempt to find safe haven after he has been deserted by his own comrades—and, later, in a Washington military hospital, where he finds himself mute and unable even to write his name. In this twilit realm, among the people he encounters—including a compassionate drug-addicted amputee, the ward matron who only appears to be his enemy, and the captain who is convinced that Hayes is faking his illness—is a gray-bearded eccentric who visits the ward daily and becomes Hayes’s strongest advocate: Walt Whitman. This timeless story, whose outcome hinges on friendships forged in crisis, reminds us that the injuries of war are manifold, and the healing goodness in the human soul runs deep and strong.
The mysterious death of Miss Jane Austen / Lindsay Ashford (FICTION) -- Twenty-six years have passed since the death of Jane Austen. Armed with a lock of Austen's hair as perhaps her best clue, Anne Sharp, former governess to the Austen family and Jane's close friend, has decided at last to tell her story—a story of family intrigues, shocking secrets, forbidden loves, and maybe even murder... Upon its publication in the UK, Lindsay Ashford's fictional interpretation of the few facts surrounding Jane Austen's mysterious death sparked an international debate and uproar. None of the medical theories offer a satisfactory explanation of Jane Austen's early demise at the age of forty-one. Could it be that what everyone has assumed was a death by natural causes was actually more sinister? Lindsay Ashford's vivid novel delves deep into Austen's world and puts forth a shocking suggestion—was someone out to silence her?
The incrementalists / Steven Brust and Skyler White (FICTION) -- The Incrementalists--a secret society of two hundred people with an unbroken lineage reaching back forty thousand years. They cheat death, share lives and memories, and communicate with one another across nations, races, and time. They have an epic history, an almost magical memory, and a very modest mission: to make the world better, just a little bit at a time. Their ongoing argument about how to do this is older than most of their individual memories. Phil, whose personality has stayed stable through more incarnations than anyone else's, has loved Celeste--and argued with her--for most of the last four hundred years. But now Celeste, recently dead, embittered, and very unstable, has changed the rules--not incrementally, and not for the better. Now the heart of the group must gather in Las Vegas to save the Incrementalists, and maybe the world.
The Grim Company / Luke Scull (FANTASY FICTION) -- The Gods are dead. The Magelord Salazar and his magically enhanced troops, the Augmentors, crush any dissent they find in the minds of the populace. On the other side of the Broken Sea, the White Lady plots the liberation of Dorminia, with her spymistresses, the Pale Women. Demons and abominations plague the Highlands. The world is desperately in need of heroes. But what they get instead are a ragtag band of old warriors, a crippled Halfmage, two orphans and an oddly capable manservant: the Grim Company.
Transcendental / James Gunn (SCIENCE FICTION) -- Riley, a veteran of interstellar war, is one of many beings from many different worlds aboard a ship on a pilgrimage that spans the galaxy. However, he is not journeying to achieve transcendence, a vague mystical concept that has drawn everyone else on the ship to this journey into the unknown at the far edge of the galaxy. His mission is to find and kill the prophet who is reputed to help others transcend. While their ship speeds through space, the voyage is marred by violence and betrayal, making it clear that some of the ship’s passengers are not the spiritual seekers they claim to be. Like the pilgrims in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, a number of those on the starship share their unique stories. But as tensions rise, Riley realizes that the ship is less like the Canterbury Tales and more like a harrowing, deadly ship of fools. When he becomes friendly with a mysterious passenger named Asha, he thinks she’s someone he can trust. However, like so many others on the ship, Asha is more than she appears. Uncovering her secrets could be the key to Riley’s personal quest, or make him question everything he thought he knew about Transcendentalism and his mission to stop it.
Fallen women / Sandra Dallas (FICTION) -- It's the spring of 1885 when wealthy New York socialite Beret Osmundsen first sets foot in a Denver police station. Just days before, she received the terrible news of the death of her estranged younger sister, Lillie. The telegram from her aunt and uncle was brief, stating only that Lillie had passed away suddenly and there was no need for Beret to make the long trip west. Soon, a sordid story is revealed when Beret comes across a scandal sheet with the details of a brutal murder of a prostitute named 'Lillie Brown' in the brothel where she lived. Upon a closer read, Beret becomes convinced that 'Lillie Brown' was in fact her sister, and her murderer has not been caught. Her investigation takes her from the dangerous, seedy underworld of Denver's tenderloin to the highest levels of Denver society. Along the way, Beret learns the depths of Lillie's depravity and must reconcile these with her memories of the innocent young girl of their youth, all while never losing site of finding the murderer. With the help of detective Mick McCauley, Beret ultimately unearths the truth about the sister she couldn't save and exposes the darkest side of Gilded Age ambition in the city in the process.
A fatal likeness : a novel / Lynn Shepherd (MYSTERY FICTION) -- When his great-uncle, the master detective who schooled him in the science of “thief taking,” is mysteriously stricken, Charles Maddox fears that the old man’s breakdown may be directly related to the latest case he’s been asked to undertake. Summoned to the home of a stuffy nobleman and his imperious wife, Charles finds his investigative services have been engaged by no less than the son of celebrated poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and his famed widow, Mary, author of the gothic classic Frankenstein. Approached by a stranger offering to sell a cache of rare papers allegedly belonging to the legendary late poet, the Shelley family seeks Maddox’s aid in discovering whether the precious documents are authentic or merely the work of an opportunistic charlatan. Steeped in finely wrought Victorian atmosphere, and rife with eye-opening historical revelations, A Fatal Likeness carries the reader ever deeper into a darkly magnetic tale of love and madness as utterly harrowing and heartbreaking as it is undeniably human.
Guests on Earth / Lee Smith (FICTION) -- It’s 1936 when orphaned thirteen-year-old Evalina Toussaint is admitted to Highland Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina, a mental institution known for its innovative treatments for nervous disorders and addictions. Taken under the wing of the hospital’s most notable patient, Zelda Fitzgerald, Evalina witnesses the cascading events leading up to the tragic fire of 1948 that killed nine women in a locked ward, Zelda among them. Author Lee Smith has created, through her artful blending of fiction and fact, a mesmerizing novel about a world apart—a time and a place where creativity and passion, theory and medicine, tragedy and transformation, are luminously intertwined.
Let the old dreams die / John Ajvide Lindqvist (FICTION) -- A classic short story collection from the writer called Sweden's Stephen King that continues the breathtaking story begun in the internationally acclaimed classic Let the right one in. Now at last, in “Let the Old Dreams Die,” the title story in this absolutely stunning collection, we get a glimpse of what happened next to the pair. Fans of Let the Right One In will have to read the story, which is destined to generate much word of mouth both among fans and online.