By Santiago Roncagliolo (Pantheon, $24.95)
This stunning debut novel, set in Peru during Holy Week in March 2000, centers on a charred body that is found in a hayloft. Felix Chacaltana, a hapless by-the-book prosecutor in Lima, is put in charge of the bizarre and horrible murder investigation and soon realizes what it means to be ethical in a lawless land. This fast-paced book is by one of Latin America’s most promising authors and is full of plot twists.
‘The Winter Vault’
By Anne Michaels (Knopf, $25)
In 1964, Avery, an engineer, and Jean, his wife, a botanist, settle into a houseboat that is moored on the Nile River. Avery, who is responsible for the dismantling and reconstruction of a temple that is being rescued from the rising waters of the Aswan Dam, is a “machine worshiper.” His wife is interested in everything that grows. This story of forgiveness and consolation is stunning in its exploration of both the physical and emotions worlds of its two main characters.
‘Hold Love Strong’
By Matthew Aaron Goodman (Touchstone, $24.99)
This debut novel is a literary paean to the power of family and belonging in the African-American community. Abraham Singleton, born to a 13-year old girl in the Ever Park Housing Projects in Queens, learns from an early age what it feels like to struggle. As he grows older, his mother becomes addicted to crack, his uncle is arrested and convicted of a serious crime, and the cousins begin dealing drugs. Somehow, Abraham learns to survive through love and hope. This spellbinding coming-of-age story is about learning to cope and surviving the odds.
By Wilbur Smith (Thomas Dunne Books, $27.95)
Smith combines the passions of Africa and the intrigue that stretches from England and Germany to the Masai tribal region of the African continent in this latest novel about the Courtney family. Set against the backdrop of pre-World War I, the story finds Leon Courtney recruited by his uncle to gather information from Count Otto Von Meerbach, a German industrialist whose company builds aircraft and vehicles for the Kaiser. His plan is doomed for failure when he falls in love with Eva von Wellberg, the Count’s mistress.
‘The Bascombe Novels’
By Richard Ford (Everyman’s Library, $35)
This trilogy of brilliant novels – “The Sportswriter,” “Independence Day” and “The Lay of the Land” – was written by an author whose rich body of work includes six novels and three collections of short stories. His gifted writing instantly pulls readers into lives that have been irrevocably changed, whether by the loss of a marriage, a career or the death of a child. “Independence Day” was awarded both the Pulitzer Prize and the prestigious PEN/Faulkner award.
‘Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings’
By John H. Watson by Lyndsay Faye (Simon & Schuster, $25)
During the summer of 1888, Scotland Yard’s Inspector Lestrade reluctantly calls on Sherlock Holmes to help track down Jack the Ripper, a serial murderer terrorizing the East End district of Whitechapel. A possible break is Mary Ann Monk, a struggling young woman and a friend of Jack’s first victim. Twists and turns continue as Holmes becomes more and more obsessed with the investigation. After a careless moment when he is stabbed and the unidentifiable culprit escapes, the great detective realizes he must break every rule to catch “the Knife” before it is too late.
By Raymond Khoury (Dutton, $26.95)
This novel is built on a intriguing premise, namely what if there was a phenomenon so special that it would end all wars and unite all of humanity regardless of race, religion and political affiliation? When a scientific expedition drops anchor to witness a cataclysmic breakup of the ice shelf in Antarctica, a massive, shimmering sphere of light suddenly appears in the sky, enveloping the ship in a mysterious white glow. The light vanishes and people throughout the world begin to wonder if it a sign from God or merely a hoax?
‘Kazan on Directing’
With a foreword by John Lahr (Knopf, $30)
Without a doubt, Elia Kazan was the mid-20th century’s most celebrated director of both stage and screen. Born in Istanbul, he studied at Yale, worked with Lee Strasberg, eventually founding the Actors’ Studio in 1947. His credits include such seminal productions as “A Streetcar Named Desire” (both stage and screen), “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” On the Waterfront,” “East of Eden” and “Baby Doll.” Drawn from his notebooks, letters, interviews and autobiography, this remarkable book shows the master at work.
‘The Protest Singer: An intimate Portrait of Pete Seeger’
By Alec Wilkinson (Knopf, $22.95)
Pete Seeger’s amazing talent and his musical grace and passion for social justice helped transform folk singing into a high form of peaceful protest during the second half of the 20th century. Seeger became a professional musician during the 1930s. With Woody Guthrie, he formed the Almanac Singers, a union that helped trigger the protest movement of the 1960s. Along the way, he got himself blacklisted. This highly readable book is the story of a true American original.
‘A Day in the Life: One Family, the Beautiful People, and the End of the Sixties’
By Robert Greenfield (Da Capo, $24.95)
During the 1960s, Tommy Weber and Susan “Puss” Coriant were two young and extraordinarily beautiful members of the British upper class. They palled around with the likes of Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix. “A Day in the Life” is the story of their fortunes and misfortunes that ended with Puss’ death in 1971, and Weber’s arrest and eventual sentence at Wormwood Scrubs prison, one of London’s most notorious. This highly readable cautionary tale centers on two privileged people who lost their bearings in a hazy world of drugs, free love and unfulfilled dreams.
‘Gabriel Garcia Marquez: A Life’
By Gerald Martin (Knopf, $37.50)
This is the first full and authorized biography of the best-selling novelist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. Born in 1927 and raised by grandparents and a clutch of aunts in a small backwater town in Colombia, Garcia Marquez is, perhaps, best known for “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” an epic novel he published when he was 40. This balanced, superbly researched book is a sumptuous literary banquet filled with insight, perception and an absolute passion for life.
By Brent W. Jeffs with Maia Szalavitz (Broadway, $24.95)
The author is the nephew of Warren Jeffs, the “President and Prophet Seer and Revelator” of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and grandson of Rulon Jeffs, the group’s former prophet. In this book, he provides an unflinching, inside look at this sect and explains that he was excommunicated for maintaining contact with his “gentile” relatives. The first in his immediate family to speak out, Brent Jeffs reveals his harrowing youth including the painful memories of abuse and of his eventual escape from the cult during his adolescence. This is religion on crack and it is not a pretty picture.
‘Your Best Birth: Know All the Options, Discover the Natural Choices, and Take Back the Birth Experience’
By Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein (Wellness Central, $22.99)
To help women take back the birth experience, advocates Lake and Epstein explore both the positive and negative effects of epidurals and investigate the country’s staggering C-section rate. In addition to never-before-told birth stories by such celebrities as Cindy Crawford, Laila Ali and Melissa Joan Hart, their guide provides crucial advice from medical professionals, served up in a down-to-earth, engaging and honest format.
‘Bottom of the Ninth: Branch Rickey, Casey Stengel, and the Daring Scheme to Save Baseball from Itself’
By Michael Shapiro (Times Books, $26)
Shapiro, author of the previous best-seller “The Last Good Season: Brooklyn, the Dodgers, and Their Final Pennant Race Together,” has once again hit it out of the literary park. This is the story of two baseball legends at their watershed moment in baseball history: Branch Rickey, the retired executive who pioneered racial integration and the modern-day farm system, and Casey Stengel, one of the most famous managers in baseball, and the stunning climax in the seventh game of the 1960 World Series. This retelling of a little-known chapter in baseball history is exemplary sports reporting.
‘World War One: A Short History’
By Norman Stone (Basic Books, $25)
Stone’s latest book draws on his vast knowledge of World War One to provide a fresh and refreshingly brief perspective for an event that killed 14 million combatants, wounded an additional 20 million and destroyed four empires. Concise, captivating and highly readable, this is a brilliant piece of reporting by one of the world’s authorities of European history.
‘The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt’
By T.J. Stiles (37.50)
In this elegantly written biography, Stiles, a San Francisco-based writer and former professor at Columbia, tackles the incredible life of Cornelius Vanderbilt. He was born on Staten Island, left school when he was 11, and five years later bought a boat that he used to ferry passengers between Staten Island and Manhattan. By the time he was 40, he had a fleet of ships, eventually turning his attention to railroad financing. In what could have been a rather dry book, Styles humanizes this iconic man and explains how he, more than any other individual, helped create the economic world in which we live today. This is exciting history that is crisply written and full of fascinating details and unexpected surprises.
‘Was Superman a Spy? and Other Comic Book Legends Revealed’
By Brian Cronin (Plume, $14)
Cronin, producer of the Comics Should Be Good blog and a noted comic book historian, answers such questions as which comic book hero inspired Elvis Presley’s trademark hair, what black superhero was changed at the last moment to a white hero, and was Superman a spy. The 70-plus years of comic book industry history are filled with myths and rumors, and quicker than a speeding bullet, Cronin sorts out the truth from the fiction.
‘Busy Woman Seeks Wife’
By Annie Sanders (Grand Central Publishing, $13.99)
Alex Hill, a high-flying marketing executive at a global sportswear company, is dismayed when she discovers her cleaning lady has been using her apartment to turn tricks in the afternoon. With so much to juggle, she begins to realize that she doesn’t need just another cleaning woman, she needs a wife.
‘A New Breed of Leader: 8 Leadership Qualities That Matter Most in the Real World’
By Sheila Murray Bethel (Berkley, $16)
Global leadership expert and bestselling author Murray Bethel is convinced that becoming a good leader depends on eight essential qualities: competence, accountability, openness, language, values, perspective, power and humility. Filled with stories about and interviews with successful leaders such as Andrea Jung, CEO of Avon, Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, and Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsico, Bethel’s guide provides valuable insights on how to take advantage of her immediately usable action steps.
‘The Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death: Reflections on Revenge, Germophobia, and Laser Hair Removal’
By Laurie Notaro (Ballantine, $14)
A word of warning: This book is so funny, it will cause you to snort coffee out your nose, if you’re drinking coffee. This collection of true-life essays, her fifth, includes stories of how her cat broke its nose, the best way to laser away unwanted hair, and the sad fact that you can’t be a badass while driving a Prius. Notaro, who loves goat cheese, is better therapy than a year on the couch.
By Trudy Ludwig with illustrations by Lisa Fields (Tricycle Press, $15.99)
Masie thinks Kayla is perfect. She’s pretty, she’s thin and she wears cool clothes – but is she really happy? This story explores the relentless and destructive drive for perfection and the freedom that comes from accepting oneself. (Ages 3-8)
‘Down by the Station’
By Jennifer Riggs Vetter with illustrations by Frank Remkiewicz (Tricycle Press, $15.99)
This book is certain to attract the attention of young readers who are fascinated by trains, trucks, boats and planes. In this action-packed expanded version of the classic children’s rhyme, toddlers and preschoolers will love to make the same sounds that the machines make, from waHONK to WeeOOO. (2-4 years)
‘What Can You Do With a Paleta’
By Carmen Tafolla with illustrations by Magaly Morales (Tricycle Press, $14.99)
A paleta, the traditional Mexican fruity popsicle treat, is at the center of this colorful new book. With a paleta you can find a new friend, cool off on a hot day and even create a masterpiece. (Ages 3-6)