Notable new releases, compiled by Sally Brewster of Park Road Books
The Substitution Order, by Martin Clark
Clark has been a good friend to our store for many years, so, honestly, we’d read his grocery list. Fortunately, he keeps turning out great novels that just keep getting better. Clark told us his approach to this book was to heed the advice of the late Larry Brown: Create an interesting character and “then load them up with troubles.” Kevin Moore starts off in a bad place, disbarred and separated from his wife, and things spiral down from there. He’s working at a low-rent sandwich shop in a small Virginia town when a mysterious stranger “invites” him to take part in a multimillion-dollar scam. Kevin refuses, and things get even worse — but he is a resourceful man who vows to turn the tables on his tormentors. A superb intellectual legal thriller.
Never Have I Ever, by Joshilyn Jackson
Jackson is as delightful in person as she is on the page. Like her previous novels, this one is a drama centered around a rich Southern family (with many flashes of humor), but this time, she injects elements of suspense into the mix. Amy Whey is hosting her monthly book club one evening when a mysterious new neighbor, Angelica Roux, shows up — and Angelica knows things about Amy that Amy wants to keep secret. A wine-soaked suburban gathering turns into a game of cat and mouse as Amy fights to keep the life she has created for herself after a terrible mistake in her youth. One wonders why Jackson didn’t turn to suspense earlier, because she’s extremely good at it. Perfect for your next vacation.
Hotbox, by Matt and Ted Lee
The Lee brothers have produced three excellent cookbooks, but in Hotbox, they turn to narrative nonfiction in a behind-the-scenes look at some unsung heroes of the food world: high-end caterers. Both brothers interned with caterers in New York City for several years, and you would not believe the culinary magic these dedicated folks are able to pull off on a regular basis. Hotbox is full of amazing characters, including Pam, the one person at one company who knows where everything is, and the multitalented Soto brothers. It’s ridiculously entertaining — if you like food writing along the lines of Anthony Bourdain or Bill Buford, you will eat this up. Pun certainly intended.
Once Upon a River, by Diane Setterfield
On a dark, stormy night at the Swan, an inn on the Upper Thames, an otherwise normal evening is suddenly interrupted by the arrival of a badly injured man who is carrying the body of a drowned child. Local nurse and midwife Rita Sunday tends to the man’s injuries, then makes a shocking discovery: The girl they had assumed was lost is suddenly alive again. When news of this apparent resurrection makes the rounds in the village, several people arrive, each hoping that the girl is their long-lost daughter. Some of the inn’s customers believe she might be the daughter of the ghostly ferryman who patrols the Thames, saving those who fall in before their time. A top-notch historical mystery with Gothic overtones.
Growing Things and Other Stories, by Paul Tremblay
This stunning collection of horror stories rivals Stephen King’s Night Shift. Tremblay is the master of ambiguous horror: Is it supernatural, or just the dark side of human nature? This is notable in “Swim Wants to Know If It’s As Bad as Swim Thinks,” the story of a desperate meth addict trying to save her daughter from an invasion of giant monsters — which may or may not actually exist. In “The Getaway,” four men carry out a pawn shop heist only to disappear from their getaway car one by one. “The Teacher” is a stunning story of brutality: An AP teacher shows terrifying videos to his class, which torment the narrator and her classmates and alter the course of their lives. Brilliant and disturbing. SP
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