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Fiction - Fiction Staff Picks

Staff Picks for May 2012

Defending Jacob
Defending Jacob (2012)
William Landay
Assistant district attorney Andy Barber has never experienced a case as agonizing as this: the prosecution of his 14-year-old son for a classmate's murder.
 
The Land of Decoration
The Land of Decoration (2012)
Grace McCleen
An 11-year-old girl who believes she has God-given powers tries to use them to resolve problems with her classmates and father.
 
This Beautiful Life
This Beautiful Life (2011)
Helen Schulman
When 15-year-old Jake forwards a sexually explicit video that a female classmate emails him, his whole well-to-do Manhattan family suffers from the scandal.
 

Staff Picks for April 2012

Rain Fall
Rain Fall (2002)
Barry Eisler
The first book in a series about Japanese-American assassin John Rain is a fast-paced thriller with lots of mixed martial arts action, smoky jazz clubs, and oriental philosophy.
 
The Retribution
The Retribution (2011)
Val McDermid
Detective Chief Inspector Carol Jordan and Dr. Tony Hill once again face serial killer Jacko Vance, who has not only escaped his psychiatric prison but found a diabolical way to exact revenge.
 
Unwanted
Unwanted (2012)
Kristina Ohlsson
A newcomer to the Nordic noir scene, Ohlsson presents a disturbing tale of a child murderer striking terror throughout Sweden.
 

Staff Picks for March 2012

Now You See Me
Now You See Me (2011)
(1)
S. J. Bolton
Lacey Flint is an ambitious Detective Constable suddenly involved in a series of Jack the Ripper copycat murders. As the murderer grows bolder, Lacy is faced with an agonizing decision which may destroy all she holds dear.
 
The Woman in the Fifth
The Woman in the Fifth (2011)
Douglas Kennedy
Fleeing the U.S. after a disastrous lapse of judgment, college professor Harry Ricks hopes that Paris will be the beginning of his new life. Instead, he becomes entrapped in the activities of the Turkish underworld and obsessed with Margit Kadar, a woman with a mysterious past and a sinister power.The Woman in the Fifth
 
The Family Fang
The Family Fang (2011)
Kevin Wilson
For performance artists Caleb and Camille Fang, their outrageous art takes priority over everything – including their children Annie and Buster. As Annie and Buster grow up, they struggle to lead normal lives but end up playing major roles in their parents’ final, astounding production.
 

Staff Picks for February 2012

The Sisters Brothers
The Sisters Brothers (2011)
Patrick  deWitt
 In this darkly funny genre-bender set during the California Gold Rush, two hired-assassin brothers set out to kill a gold prospector and find their plans changed.
 
The London Train
The London Train (2011)
Tessa  Hadley
 In half of this novel, Paul abandons his family to live with a daughter from a prior marriage. In the other half, Cora escapes from her husband to her childhood home.
 
Rules of Civility
Rules of Civility (2011)
Amor Towles
 In 1930s New York, life gets exciting for working-girl friends Katey and Eve after they befriend a seemingly wealthy, upper-class socialite named Tinker.
 

Staff Picks for January 2012

Keeper of Lost Causes
Keeper of Lost Causes (2011)
Jussi Adler-Olsen
Detective Police Inspector Carl Morck is in charge of the new cold case squad Department Q. Morck’s superiors believe they’ve found a way to put him out to pasture but Morck and his sidekick Assad have other ideas.
 
Misery Bay
Misery Bay (2011)
Steve Hamilton
Alex McKnight’s old nemesis asks him to look into what appears at first to have been a suicide. As Alex probes deeper, he uncovers a diabolical scheme where murder is made to look like suicide.
 
The Woodcutter
The Woodcutter (2011)
Reginald Hill
The Woodcutter features an enigmatic anti-hero and lots of plot twists and turns and double crosses. An absorbing read, it’s a change of pace from Hill’s Dalziel-Pascoe series.
 

Staff Picks for December 2011

1225 Christmas Tree Lane
1225 Christmas Tree Lane  (2011)
Debbie Macomber
In the final installment of the Cedar Cove series, the residents of this small Washington State town experience the stresses, surprises, and joys of this special time of year.
 
The Christmas Wedding
The Christmas Wedding (2011)
James Patterson, Richard DiLallo
Gaby Summerhill’s family and friends are looking forward to her Christmas Day wedding. But who among her suitors will be the groom? Only Gaby knows and she’s not saying.
 
The Nine Lives of Christmas
The Nine Lives of Christmas  (2011)
Sheila Roberts
A stray cat desperate to hold on to his ninth life, a commitment-shy firefighter, and a charming, insecure animal lover come together in this heartwarming story set during the holiday season.
 

Staff Picks for November 2011

My New American Life
My New American Life (2011)
Twenty-six-year old Lula, an Albanian immigrant, finds her life taking a complicated turn when Albanian "brothers" befriend her.
 
Open City
Open City (2011)
Teju Cole
In this meditative novel, a young Nigerian doctor in New York City learns the stories of other immigrants and makes a discovery about himself.
 
The Soldier's Wife
The Soldier's Wife (2011)
Margaret Leroy
While World War II keeps her husband away from their Guernsey home, Vivienne falls in love with a German soldier staying next door.
 

Staff Picks for October 2011

Smokin’ Seventeen
Smokin’ Seventeen (2011)
Stephanie Plum romps through another Jersey ‘burg adventure. The eternal conflict over Morelli or Ranger spices up the mix along with assorted mayhem, car explosions, and murder.
 
The Snowman
The Snowman (2011)
Jo Nesbo
The Snowman is Jo Nesbo’s latest tale featuring troubled Norwegian detective Harry Hole. Hole finds himself up against a formidable opponent. The exciting climax will have you on the edge of your seat.
 
New York to Dallas
New York to Dallas (2011)
J. D. Robb
Robb once again hits just the right mix of romance, murder and intrigue as Dallas has to face her worse nightmares far from her beloved New York.
 

Staff Picks for September 2011

The Pericles Commission
The Pericles Commission (2010)
Gary Corby
Like many sons in ancient Greece, Nicolaos is expected to follow in his father’s footsteps. But Nico doesn’t want to be a sculptor. So when he stumbles over the dead body of an Athenian politician and is asked to investigate the murder, Nico knows it’s fate offering him a different career. 
 
 
A Cup of Friendship
A Cup of Friendship (2011)
Deborah Rodriguez
Yazmina, abandoned because she is pregnant, Isabel, an investigative journalist, Candace, a wealthy Bostonian, and Halajan, a strong-willed but dutiful Moslem widow, cross paths at American expat Sunny’s Coffee Shop in Kabul. There they and others find much more than food and drink. 
 
The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady
The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady (2011)
Elizabeth Stuckey-French
Marylou Ahearn has waited over 50 years to punish Dr. Wilson Spriggs for giving her the radioactive cocktail that eventually caused her daughter’s death. What kind of revenge can she take when she tracks him down and learns he has Alzheimer’s and his family is already falling apart? 

 
 

Staff Picks for August 2011

The Stuff That Never Happened
The Stuff That Never Happened (2011)
Maddie Dawson
An encounter with her extramarital lover from 26 years ago upsets Annabelle’s marriage again.
 
State of Wonder
State of Wonder (2011)
Ann Patchett
Researcher Marina journeys into the heart of the Amazonian delta to check on a field team that has been silent for two years.
 
The Year We Left Home
The Year We Left Home (2011)
Jean Thompson
Iowa siblings struggle to escape their origins, in this chronicle spanning several decades.
 

Staff Picks for July 2011

Hypothermia
Hypothermia (2010)
Arnaldur Indridason
The perfect book for putting Baltimore’s hot, steamy summer days on the back burner of the mind, set as usual in Iceland’s Reykjavik. Police Inspector Erlendur has his doubts about suicide when the body of a young woman is found. He thinks she’s been murdered and he sets out to find out why and by whom.
 
The Land of Painted Caves
The Land of Painted Caves (2011)
Jean Auel
Auel finally gives her fans the next installment in the Earth’s Children series, nine years in the making. Auel leads her characters Ayla, Jondalar and their child Jonayla on a journey of discovery and excitement to the painted caves of central France. 
 
The Complaints
The Complaints (2011)
Ian Rankin
Ian Rankin’s latest novel is a departure from his beloved long-running Rebus series. The new character is Matthew Fox, a smart, tough detective in Edinburgh’s version of internal affairs. His first case gets personal as he tries to find his sister’s lover’s killer. 
 

Staff Picks for June 2011

Blue Lightning
Blue Lightning (2010)
Ann Cleeves
When Shetland Island Police Inspector Jimmy Perez brings his fiancée to tiny Fair Isle to meet his parents, he finds himself singlehandedly investigating the murder of the director of the renowned bird observatory. 
 
The Convent
The Convent (2010)
Panos Karnezis
The quiet calm and solitude of the six nuns in a remote Spanish convent is shattered when a newborn baby boy is abandoned at their gates and the Mother Superior claims him as her own. 
 
The Uncoupling
The Uncoupling (2011)
Meg Wolitzer
Relationships suffer and women’s desires wane in suburban Stellar Plains, N.J. after new high school drama teacher Fran Heller begins rehearsals of the classic Greek play “Lysistrata” in which women withhold sex as an anti-war protest. 
 

Staff Picks for May 2011

Freedom
Freedom (2010)
Jonathan Franzen
The idyllic lives of civic-minded environmentalists Patty and Walter Berglund come into question when
green lawyer Walter takes a job in the coal industry, and go-getter Patty becomes increasingly unstable.
 
The Invisible Bridge
The Invisible Bridge (2010)
Julie Orringer
As Europe teeters on the brink of World War II, a young Jew, Andras Lévi, travels from Hungary to Paris, where he studies architecture and embarks on a passionate romance with Klara, a Hungarian ballet instructor.
 
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand (2010)
Helen Simonson
Major Ernest Pettigrew’s quiet life in an English village grows unexpectedly rich when he becomes friends with Jasmina Ali, the Pakistani shopkeeper from the village.
 

Staff Picks for April 2011

In the Company of Others
In the Company of Others (2010)
Jan Karon
Tim and Cynthia finally take their long overdue trip to Ireland in this spinoff tale from Jan Karon’s Mitford series. As always Karon combines spirituality, earthiness, and intrigue in equal measures for a satisfying good read.
 
Getting to Happy
Getting to Happy (2010)
Terry McMillan
Finally fans of Waiting to Exhale get to find out what happened to their favorite characters 15 years later. Peppy dialogue and a cinematic writing style make this one worthwhile for die-hard McMillan fans.
 
Indulgence in Death
Indulgence in Death (2010)
J. D. Robb
A fast-paced noir look at the future as NYPD Lieutenant Eve Dallas takes on ruthless killers who think they can outwit and outthink her. One of Robb’s best yet, especially the scenes with  Dallas’ beloved husband Roarke.into a bigger conspiracy.
 

Staff Picks for March 2011

Room
Room (2010)
Emma Donoghue
Until age five, Jack’s Ma, the room they shared, and the nightly visitor he called “Old Nick” were all Jack knew of the world.
 
Zero History
Zero History (2010)
William Gibson
Ex-singer Hollis Henry and ex-addict Milgrim are once again in the employ of entrepreneur Hubertus Bigend, this time to search for a secret fashion designer.
 
Dog Tags
Dog Tags (2010)
David Rosenfelt

Lawyer Andy Carpenter agrees to represent a thieving German Shepherd belonging to a man accused of murder, but stumbles into a bigger conspiracy.

 

 

Staff Picks for February 2011

The Hundred-foot Journey
The Hundred-foot Journey (2010)
Richard C. Morais
Chef Hassan Haji tells of his rise to culinary success in Paris via Bombay and London. It all begins, however, in a small town in the French Alps where his budding genius is grudgingly recognized by Madame Mallory, owner of the restaurant across the street.
 
Bury Your Dead
Bury Your Dead (2010)
Louise Penny

Recovering from both physical and mental traumas, Chief Inspector Gamache seeks solace with an old friend in Quebec only to be dragged into a current murder investigation and haunted by an earlier one.

 

 
Dancing Backwards
Dancing Backwards (2010)
Sally Vickers

A transatlantic cruise to New York to make amends to an old friend gives Vi Hetherington the chance to examine her past, appreciate the present, and consider the future.

 

Staff Picks for January 2011

A Kind of Intimacy
A Kind of Intimacy (2010)
Jean Ashworth

Trouble brews in a peaceful suburb when overweight, crazy Annie moves in and develops an unrequited crush on her next-door neighbor.

 
Good To A Fault
Good To A Fault (2010)
Marina Endicott

Charity bears surprising fruits for Clara Purdy, who takes in three needy children while their mother undergoes treatment for cancer.

 
Hummingbirds
Hummingbirds (2009)
Joshua Gaylord

A strange friendship forms between Leo, a teacher at an all-girls' prep school and a new male teacher who had an affair two years ago with Leo's wife.


 

 

Staff Picks for December 2010

The Passage
The Passage (2010)
Justin Cronin
After most of the world’s population is destroyed by a virus and many of the survivors have transformed into deadly creatures, the fate of humanity is tied to that of a young girl.
 
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (2010)
David Mitchell
There are unforeseen consequences when Jacob de Zoet, a young Dutch trading clerk stationed in Japan, falls in love with a Japanese midwife.
 
Portobello
Portobello (2010)
Ruth Rendell

When a do-gooder attempts to return an envelope of money found on Portobello Road in London, it sets off a series of dangerous events.

 

Staff Picks for November 2010

The Cookbook Collector
The Cookbook Collector (2010)
Allegra Goodman
Two couples – tech moguls Emily and Jonathan and eco-activists Jessamine and George – confront issues of love, loyalty, greed, and social responsibility in a story set in the dot-com era but reminiscent of Jane Austen.
 
The Calligrapher's Daughter
The Calligrapher's Daughter (2010)
Eugenia Kim
In early 20th century Korea, Najin Han, the privileged daughter of a calligrapher, longs to choose her own destiny. Smart and stubborn, Najin is encouraged by her mother but is also subject to her father’s traditional views and the looming threat of Japanese occupation.
 
The Bell Ringers
The Bell Ringers (2009)
Henry Porter
The murder of a former British head of intelligence triggers a desperate resistance movement led by a group called the Bell Ringers. Their enemy isn’t a terrorist cell; it’s an out of control, security-obsessed government.
 

Staff Picks for October 2010

The Imperfectionists
The Imperfectionists (2010)
Tom Rachman
In linked, tragicomic episodes, the staff of a Rome-based newspaper pursue not only the news but also dreams of love, friendship, family, and professional success.
 
Twelve Rooms With a View
Twelve Rooms With a View (2010)
Theresa Rebeck
After moving into the palatial Central Park apartment which she and her sisters may have inherited, 32-year-old Tina finds herself at the heart of a real-estate battle.
 
Private Life
Private Life (2010)
Jane Smiley
When Margaret Mayfield marries a brilliant scientist in 1906, she has no clue how much his crazed visions
will cost her.
 

Staff Picks for September 2010

Shades of Grey
Shades of Grey (2009)
Jasper Fforde
Eddie Russett, citizen of Chromatacia, where status is completely based on color vision, begins to question his society after being sent to a remote town.
 
The Magicians
The Magicians (2009)
Lev Grossman
Morose overachiever Quentin finds that magic is real when he is invited to attend the elite private school Brakebills. He thinks this means his problems are finally over, but they are actually just starting.
 
Unseen Academicals
Unseen Academicals (2009)
Terry Pratchett
The wizards of Unseen University reluctantly accept their latest challenge: to assemble a team and remake soccer as a civilized game.
 

Staff Picks for August 2010

Every Last One
Every Last One (2010)
Devoted to her three teenagers and her husband, Mary Beth Latham leads a busy, contented life. When a shocking act of violence shatters her world, she must struggle to rebuild it.
 
The Long Song
The Long Song (2010)
Andrea Levy
Writing about her life before and after the Jamaican slave rebellion of 1832, Miss July, the daughter of a slave and a corrupt overseer, alternates between reality and denial, tragedy and humor.
 
Doors Open
Doors Open (2010)
Ian Rankin
A plan hatched by three art-loving citizens to “liberate” stored paintings from an Edinburgh museum’s warehouse goes awry when a local gangster becomes involved. But who is the real villain?
 

Staff Picks for July 2010

The Lake Shore Limited
The Lake Shore Limited (2010)
Sue Miller
A playwright uses her newest drama and a new relationship to work through her mixed feelings about her lover's death in 9/11.
 
Model Home
Model Home (2010)
Eric Puchner
Two teens, an adolescent, and their parents drift apart from one
another and their dreams in this tragicomedy set in California.
 
Noah's Compass
Noah's Compass (2010)
Anne Tyler
Life turns around for Liam, a 60-year-old detached from his own emotions, after he meets a 38-year-old woman.
 

Staff Picks for June 2010

Beneath the Lion's Gaze
Beneath the Lion's Gaze (2010)
When the monarchy of Ethiopia falls and is replaced by the totalitarian Derg, one family is torn apart.
 
Once on a Moonless Night
Once on a Moonless Night (2009)
Sijie Dai
Two lovers are linked by the history of an ancient manuscript found in China, one half of which has been lost.
 
Big Machine
Big Machine (2009)
Victor Lavalle
Recovered addict Ricky Rice receives an unexpected invitation to join the Unlikely Scholars, a group of misfits searching for evidence of the supernatural.
 

Staff Picks for May 2010

Remarkable Creatures
Remarkable Creatures (2010)
Tracy Chevalier
Their discovery of fossils of extinct animals calls into question accepted scientific and religious beliefs, subjecting Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot to ridicule and prejudice in 19th century England.
 
The Lacuna
The Lacuna (2009)
(1)
Barbara Kingsolver
Harrison Shepherd struggles to find his place in two very different worlds: first, the vibrant Mexico of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo and then the repressive paranoia of the McCarthy hearings in the U.S.
 
The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers
The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers (2010)
Thomas Mullen
In an era when gangsters like John Dillinger and Baby Face Nelson were antiheroes, bank robbers Jason and Whit Fireson (dubbed the Firefly Brothers) held an additional fascination: they seemed to be immortal.
 

Staff Picks for April 2010

Unfinished Desires
Unfinished Desires (2009)
Gail Godwin
By reviving an old play at their Catholic school in the 1950s, two girls raise questions about the past and dramatically change their own futures.
 
Family Album
Family Album (2009)
Penelope Lively
Serious problems lurk under the picturesque surface of a big family in an old house outside London.
 
The Humbling
The Humbling (2009)
Philip Roth
A 65-year-old failing actor hopes a romance with a 40-year-old woman will revitalize him.
 

Staff Picks for March 2010

The Year of the Flood
The Year of the Flood (2009)
(3)
Margaret Atwood
Ren and Toby, two women who have survived the plague known as the “waterless flood”, look back on the choices they’ve made and attend to their future survival.
 
The City & The City
The City & The City (2009)
(2)
China Miéville
Inspector Tyador Borlu of the city of Beszel must solve a difficult murder – one that seems linked to Ul Qoma, another city which exists in the same physical location as Beszel but is forbidden to interact with it.
 
The Little Stranger
The Little Stranger (2009)
(1)
Sarah Waters
On his visits to the residents of a crumbling mansion named Hundreds Hall, Dr. Faraday witnesses phenomena that shake his belief that hauntings cannot exist.
 

Staff Picks for February 2010

Second Violin
Second Violin
John Lawton
Brothers Rod and Fred Troy find themselves in surreal situations in Great Britain at the outset of World War II: While journalist Rod deals with internment as an enemy alien, Scotland Yard Sergeant Fred is searching for the serial killer of East End rabbis despite the chaos of the Blitz.
 
The Brutal Telling
The Brutal Telling
Louise Penny
All is not what it seems in the village of Three Pines when Inspector Gamache and his team must uncover the identity of a murdered stranger, why his body was dumped in the bistro, and who among the locals is involved.
 
Half Broke Horses: A True-life Novel
Half Broke Horses: A True-life Novel
Jeanette Walls
Walls (author of Glass Castles) recreates the unconventional life of her grandmother Lily Casey Smith who taught school at fifteen, helped run a ranch of over 100,000 acres, and sold liquor during Prohibition, while always seeking what her father called her Purpose.
 

Staff Picks for January 2010

Yes, My Darling Daughter
Yes, My Darling Daughter
Margaret Leroy
Grace takes her 4-year-old daughter to the Irish seaside, hoping to uncover a trauma the child experienced in a past life.
 
The Confessions of Edward Day
The Confessions of Edward Day
Valerie Martin
In 1970s New York, two aspiring actors whose faces, hearts, and fates weirdly mirror each other compete for the same woman’s love.
 
Generosity
Generosity
Richard Powers
Thassa, a Chicago college student and Algerian immigrant, makes a worldwide sensation when a scientist taps her chronic cheerfulness for “the happiness gene.”
 
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