Saturday, May 2, 2015

7 Exciting New Titles to Look for this May

The spring publishing season is getting rolling and suddenly, everywhere I look, there are new book announcements. This month's list of releases to watch for was a little harder to pare down than last's -- there's just so much to choose from! But pare down we must, and I've managed to pull out just these 7 to highlight.

The Human Flies by Hans Olav Lahlum (May 5). Norwegian author Hans Olav Lahlum seems like he might be a lot of fun. He's certainly got a diverse range of interests, Wikipedia cites him as a "historian, crime author, chess player and organizer, and politician" and notes that he holds the world record for longest interview, having sat down for more than 30 hours talking to the Norwegian tabloid paper VG in 2013. Whether his notable resume makes him a good writer will remain to be seen, but folks are pretty excited about the English language release of The Human Flies, the first in a series featuring inspector Kolbein Kristiansen. The Human Flies is a locked-room mystery, in which the detective and his assistant seek to discover which neighbour in a Olso apartment block could have murdered war hero Harald Olesen. Lahlum is said to write in a "classic style" and has been called "Norway's answer to Agatha Christie." Mystery fans take note. The second volume in the series Satellite People is being released simultaneously.

BiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google by John Palfrey (May 5). I suspect there are more than a few librarians who read this blog, but it's not just for them that I'm including this library-centric title, there is much here that will be of interest to librarians and non-librarians alike. From the publisher, "Libraries today are more important than ever. More than just book repositories, libraries can become bulwarks against some of the most crucial challenges of our age: unequal access to education, jobs, and information." Palfrey looks at the state of modern democracies, the role of information in them, and how libraries should be working and changing to remain an important part of our communities and society.

Empire of Deception by Dean Jobb (May 19): A bit of true crime history with a Nova Scotia connection. "It was a time of unregulated madness. And nowhere was it more mad than in Chicago at the dawn of the Roaring Twenties. Speakeasies thrived, gang war shootings announced Al Capone's rise to underworld domination, Chicago's corrupt political leaders fraternized with gangsters and the frenzy of stock market gambling was rampant. Enter a slick, smooth-talking, charismatic lawyer named Leo Koretz, who enticed hundreds of people to invest as much as $30 million—upwards of $400 million today—in phantom timberland and non-existent oil wells in Panama. When Leo's scheme finally collapsed in 1923, he vanished, and the Chicago state's attorney, a man whose lust for power equalled Leo's own lust for money, began an international manhunt that lasted almost a year. When finally apprehended, Leo was living a life of luxury in Nova Scotia under the assumed identity of a book dealer and literary critic." Ooh, and mark you calendars! Author Dean Jobb will be visiting Halifax's Central Library for a reading on June 25 at 7:00 pm. Keep an eye on the library's website for more information.

Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi (May 26). In 2009, American author Bacigalupi burst on the scene with his first novel The Windup Girl: it got rave reviews, and won both the Hugo and Nebula awards for best novel (as well as a slew of other writing prizes). A lot of folks hear the term science fiction and immediately turn away -- that's a shame, because some of the most thought provoking musings on the current and future state of humanity are coming from science fiction writers. Bacigalupi is one of these writers. In the Water Knife, Bacigalupi gives us an not-too-difficult to imagine future where water scarcity has brought conflict as states, companies and individuals struggle to gain control of a much needed resource. Blending Science Fiction, Thriller and Noir elements, this is a page turner that Library Journal called "a fresh cautionary tale classic."

Birdie by Tracey Lindberg (May 26): From the publisher: "Birdie is a darkly comic and moving first novel about the universal experience of recovering from wounds of the past, informed by the lore and knowledge of Cree traditions. Bernice Meetoos, a Cree woman, leaves her home in Northern Alberta following tragedy and travels to Gibsons, BC. She is on something of a vision quest, seeking to understand the messages from The Frugal Gourmet (one of the only television shows available on CBC North) that come to her in her dreams. She is also driven by the leftover teenaged desire to meet Pat Johns, who played Jesse on The Beachcombers, because he is, as she says, a working, healthy Indian man. Bernice heads for Molly’s Reach to find answers but they are not the ones she expected. With the arrival in Gibsons of her Auntie Val and her cousin Skinny Freda, Bernice finds the strength to face the past and draw the lessons from her dreams that she was never fully taught in life. Part road trip, dream quest and travelogue, the novel touches on the universality of women's experience, regardless of culture or race."

I'll finish this month with two books that struck me as similar in the broad strokes: both pyschological thrillers that share a theme of mistaken or questioned identity.

The Ice Twins by S.K. Tremayne (May 19): "In the tradition of The Girl on the Train comes the UK bestseller The Ice Twins, a terrifying psychological thriller with a twisting plot worthy of Gillian Flynn. One of Sarah's daughters died. But can she be sure which one? A year after one of their identical twin daughters, Lydia, dies in an accident, Angus and Sarah Moorcroft move to the tiny Scottish island Angus inherited from his grandmother, hoping to put together the pieces of their shattered lives. But when their surviving daughter, Kirstie, claims they have mistaken her identity--that she, in fact, is Lydia--their world comes crashing down once again. As winter encroaches, Angus is forced to travel away from the island for work, Sarah is feeling isolated, and Kirstie (or is it Lydia?) is growing more disturbed. When a violent storm leaves Sarah and her daughter stranded, they are forced to confront what really happened on that fateful day."

After the Crash by Michel Bussi (May 26): "On the night of 22 December 1980, a plane crashes on the Franco-Swiss border and is engulfed in flames. 168 out of 169 passengers are killed instantly. The miraculous sole survivor is a three-month-old baby girl. Two families, one rich, the other poor, step forward to claim her, sparking an investigation that will last for almost two decades. Is she Lyse-Rose or Emilie? Eighteen years later, having failed to discover the truth, private detective Credule Grand-Duc plans to take his own life, but not before placing an account of his investigation in the girl's hands. But, as he sits at his desk about to pull the trigger, he uncovers a secret that changes everything - then is killed before he can breathe a word of it to anyone...

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