December 2009 Fiction

 The Gift: a novel by Cecelia Ahern

In this modern-day fable, workaholic executive Lou Steffen shows an uncharacteristic burst of generosity towards Gabe, a homeless man who always seems to be in two places at once. With Lou’s personal and professional fates at important crossroads and Christmas looming, Gabe resorts to some unorthodox methods to show his stubborn patron what truly matters and how precious the gift of time is. But can Gabe help Lou fix what’s broken before it’s too late?

 The Atlantis Code by Charles Brokaw

A thrill-seeking Harvard linguistics professor and an ultrasecret branch of the Catholic Church go head-to-head in a race to uncover the secrets of the lost city of Atlantis. The ruins of the technologically-advanced, eerily-enigmatic ancient civilization promise their discoverer fame, fortune, and power… but hold earth-shattering secrets about the origin of man. While world-famous linguist and archaeologist, Thomas Lourds, is shooting a film that dramatizes his flamboyant life and scientific achievements, satellites spot impossibly ancient ruins along the Spanish coast. Lourds knows exactly what it means: the Lost Continent of Atlantis has been found. The race is on, and Lourds’ challengers will do anything to get there first. Whoever controls the Lost Continent will control the world.

 The Women of Pemberly by Rebecca Collins

The Women of Pemberley follows the lives of five women, some from the beloved works of Jane Austen, some new, into post industrial revolution England, at the start of the Victorian Age. The central themes of love, friendship, marriage, and a sense of social obligation remain as do the great political and social issues of the age.

 Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton

From one of the best-loved authors of all time comes an irresistible adventure of swashbuckling pirates in the New World, a classic story of treasure and betrayal. The Caribbean, 1665. A remote colony of the English Crown, the island of Jamaica holds out against the vast supremacy of the Spanish empire. Port Royal, its capital, is a cutthroat town of taverns, grog shops, and bawdy houses. In this steamy climate there’s a living to be made, a living that can end swiftly by disease-or by dagger. For Captain Charles Hunter, gold in Spanish hands is gold for the taking, and the law of the land rests with those ruthless enough to make it. Word in port is that the galleon El Trinidad, fresh from New Spain, is awaiting repairs in a nearby harbor. Heavily fortified, the impregnable harbor is guarded by the bloodthirsty Cazalla, a favorite commander of the Spanish king himself. With backing from a powerful ally, Hunter assembles a crew of ruffians to infiltrate the enemy outpost and commandeer El Trinidad, along with its fortune in Spanish gold. The raid is as perilous as the bloodiest tales of island legend, and Hunter will lose more than one man before he even sets foot on foreign shores, where dense jungle and the firepower of Spanish infantry stand between him and the treasure. . . . Pirate Latitudes is Michael Crichton at his best: a rollicking adventure tale pulsing with relentless action, crackling atmosphere, and heart-pounding suspense.

 The Wrecker by Clive Cussler

In The Chase, Clive Cussler introduced an electrifying new hero, the tall, lean, no-nonsense detective Isaac Bell, who, driven by his sense of justice, travels early-twentieth-century America pursuing thieves and killers . . . and sometimes criminals much worse. It is 1907, a year of financial panic and labor unrest. Train wrecks, fires, and explosions sabotage the Southern Pacific Railroad’s Cascades express line and, desperate, the railroad hires the fabled Van Dorn Detective Agency. Van Dorn sends in his best man, and Bell quickly discovers that a mysterious saboteur haunts the hobo jungles of the West, a man known as the Wrecker, who recruits accomplices from the down-and-out to attack the railroad, and then kills them afterward. The Wrecker traverses the vast spaces of the American West as if he had wings, striking wherever he pleases, causing untold damage and loss of human life. Who is he? What does he want? Is he a striker? An anarchist? A revolutionary determined to displace the “privileged few”? A criminal mastermind engineering some as yet unexplained scheme? Whoever he is, whatever his motives, the Wrecker knows how to create maximum havoc, and Bell senses that he is far from done – that, in fact, the Wrecker is building up to a grand act unlike anything he has committed before. If Bell doesn’t stop him in time, more than a railroad could be at risk-it could be the future of the entire country. Filled with intricate plotting and dazzling set pieces, The Wrecker is one of the most entertaining thrillers in years.

 Bryant and May on the Loose: a peculiar crimes unit mystery by Christopher Fowler

The Peculiar Crimes Unit has until the end of the week to solve a murder with unlikely links to gangland crime, Slavic mythology, the 2012 London Olympics, and the sort of corruption only obscene amounts of money can buy. Bryant and May return to piece it all together.

 U is for Undertow by Sue Grafton

Calling T is for Trespass “taut, terrifying, transfixing and terrific,” USA Today went on to ask, “What does it take to write twenty novels about the same character and manage to create a fresh, genre-bending novel every time?” It’s a question worth pondering. Through twenty excursions into the dark side of the human soul, Sue Grafton has never written the same book twice. And so it is with this, her twenty-first. Once again, she breaks genre formulas, giving us a twisting, complex, surprise-filled, and totally satisfying thriller. It’s April, 1988, a month before Kinsey Millhone’s thirty-eighth birthday, and she’s alone in her office doing paperwork when a young man arrives unannounced. He has a preppy air about him and looks as if he’d be carded if he tried to buy booze, but Michael Sutton is twenty-seven, an unemployed college dropout. Twenty-one years earlier, a four-year-old girl disappeared. A recent reference to her kidnapping has triggered a flood of memories. Sutton now believes he stumbled on her lonely burial when he was six years old. He wants Kinsey’s help in locating the child’s remains and finding the men who killed her. It’s a long shot but he’s willing to pay cash up front, and Kinsey agrees to give him one day. As her investigation unfolds, she discovers Michael Sutton has an uneasy relationship with the truth. In essence, he’s the boy who cried wolf. Is his current story true or simply one more in a long line of fabrications? Grafton moves the narrative between the eighties and the sixties, changing points of view, building multiple subplots, and creating memorable characters. Gradually, we see how they all connect. But at the beating center of the novel is Kinsey Millhone, sharp-tongued, observant, a loner-“a heroine,” said The New York Times Book Review, “with foibles you can laugh at and faults you can forgive.”

 A Friend of the Family by Lauren Grodstein

Grodstein delivers a riveting story in the tradition of “The Ice Storm, American Beauty,” and “Little Children,” charting a father’s fall from grace as he struggles to save his family, his reputation, and himself.

 Ice by Linda Howard

From the “New York Times”-bestselling author of “Up Close and Dangerous, Kiss Me While I Sleep” and “Dying to Please” comes this suspenseful tale of a man, a woman, and a battle for survival against an unrelenting killer.

 Under the Dome by Stephen King

On an entirely normal, beautiful fall day in Chester’s Mill, Maine, the town is inexplicably and suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field. Planes crash into it and fall from the sky in flaming wreckage, a gardener’s hand is severed as “the dome” comes down on it, people running errands in the neighboring town are divided from their families, and cars explode on impact. No one can fathom what this barrier is, where it came from, and when — or if — it will go away. Dale Barbara, Iraq vet and now a short-order cook, finds himself teamed with a few intrepid citizens — town newspaper owner Julia Shumway, a physician’s assistant at the hospital, a select-woman, and three brave kids. Against them stands Big Jim Rennie, a politician who will stop at nothing — even murder — to hold the reins of power, and his son, who is keeping a horrible secret in a dark pantry. But their main adversary is the Dome itself. Because time isn’t just short. It’s running out.

 Breathless by Dean Koontz

“New York Times”-bestselling author Koontz delivers a thrilling novel of suspense and adventure, in this story of a world where good itself is an endangered species and one man will risk his life–and more–to save it from extinction.

 Wishin’ and Hopin’: a Christmas Story by Wally Lamb

The author of the #1 “New York Times” bestsellers “She’s Come Undone, I Know This Much Is True,” and “The Hour I First Believed” offers a Christmas novella that promises to be a holiday bestseller.

 Family Album by Penelope Lively

A novel of family intrigue from one of the most accomplished writers of fiction (“The Washington Post”), “Family Album” offers a measured, thoughtful look at how events of the past, both small and large, deeply inform the present.

 A Blue and Gray Christmas by Joan Medlicott

In this stunning holiday story, a cache of Civil War-era letters and diaries sweeps the ladies of Covington up into a dramatic and heartwarming historical saga that inspires them to plan an unforgettable Christmas for two families forever changed by war.When a rusty old tin box is unearthed at the Covington Homestead, longtime housemates Grace, Amelia, and Hannah discover that it contains letters and diaries written by two Civil War soldiers, one Union and one Confederate.The friends are captivated by the drama revealed. The soldiers were found dying on a nearby battlefi eld by an old woman. She nursed them back to health, hiding them from bounty hunters seeking deserters. At the end of the war the men chose to stay in Covington, caring for their rescuer as she grew frail. But while their lives were rich, they still felt homesick and guilty for never contacting the families they’d left behind.Christmas is coming, and the letters inspire Amelia with a generous impulse. What if she and her friends were to fi nd the two soldiers’ descendants and invite them to Covington to meet? What better holiday gift could there be than the truth about these two heroic men and their dramatic shared fate? With little time left, the ladies spring into action to track down the men’s families in Connecticut and the Carolinas, and to make preparations in Covington for their most memorable, most historic Christmas yet.

 Time is a River by Mary Monroe

With a strong, warm voice that brings the South to life,New York Timesbestselling author Mary Alice Monroe writes richly textured stories that intimately portray the complex and emotional relationships we share with families, friends, and the natural world. “Every book that Mary Alice Monroe has written has felt like a homecoming to me,” writes Pat Conroy, bestselling author ofThe Prince of Tides.Time Is a Riveris an insightful novel that will sweep readers away to the seductive southern landscape, joining books by authors such as Anne Rivers Siddons and Sue Monk Kidd.Recovering from breast cancer and reeling from her husband’s infidelity, Mia Landan flees her Charleston home to heal in the mountains near Asheville, North Carolina. She seeks refuge in a neglected fishing cabin belonging to her fly-fishing instructor, Belle Carson.Belle recently inherited the cabin, which once belonged to a grandmother she never knew — the legendary fly fisher and journalist of the 1920s, Kate Watkins, whose life fell into ruins after she was accused of murdering her lover. Her fortune lost in the stock market crash and her reputation destroyed, Kate slipped into seclusion in the remote cabin. After her death the fishing cabin remained locked and abandoned for decades. Little does Belle know that by opening the cabin doors to Mia for a summer’s sanctuary, she will open again the scandal that plagued Belle’s family for generations.From her first step inside the dusty cabin, Mia is fascinated by the traces of Kate’s mysterious story left behind in the eccentric furnishings of the cabin. And though Belle, ashamed of the tabloid scandal that tortured her mother, warns Mia not to stir the mud, Mia is compelled to find out more about Kate…especially when she discovers Kate’s journal.The inspiring words of the remarkable woman echo across the years. Mia has been learning to fly-fish, and Kate’s wise words comparing life to a river resonate deeply. She begins a quest to uncover the truth behind the lies. As she searches newspaper archives and listens to the colorful memories of the local small-town residents, the story of a proud, fiercely independent woman emerges. Mia feels a strange kinship with the woman who, like her, suffered fears, betrayal, the death of loved ones, and a fall from grace — yet found strength, compassion and, ultimately, forgiveness in her isolation. A story timeless in its appeal emerges, with a power that reopens old wounds, but also brings a transforming healing for Mia, for Kate’s descendants, and for all those in Mia’s new community.

 Too Much Happiness: stories by Alice Munroe

With clarity and ease, Munro once again renders complex, difficult events and emotions into stories that shed light on the unpredictable ways in which men and women accommodate and often transcend what happens in their lives.

 Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

A New York Times Bestseller, A Today Show Book Club Selection. This is the story of Clare, a beautiful art student, and Henry, an adventuresome librarian. They met when Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and married when Clare was twenty-three and Henry thirty-one. Impossible but true: Henry is one of the first people diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder. Periodically his genetic clock resets and he finds himself misplaced in time, disappearing spontaneously for experiences alternately harrowing and amusing.

 I, Alex Cross by James Patterson

Detective Alex Cross is pulled out of a family celebration and given the awful news that a beloved relative has been found brutally murdered. Alex vows to hunt down the killer, and soon learns that she was mixed up in one of Washington’s wildest scenes. And she was not this killer’s only victim. The hunt for her murderer leads Alex and his girlfriend, Detective Brianna Stone, to a place where every fantasy is possible, if you have the credentials to get in. Alex and Bree are soon facing down some very important, very protected, very dangerous people in levels of society where only one thing is certain–they will do anything to keep their secrets safe. As Alex closes in on the killer, he discovers evidence that points to the unimaginable–a revelation that could rock the entire world. With the unstoppable action, unforeseeable twists, and edge-of-your-seat suspense that only a James Patterson thriller delivers, I, Alex Cross is the master of suspense at his sharpest and best.

 Broken Jewel by David Robbins

Set against the backdrop of the Los Banos prison raid–one of the most daringepisodes of World War II–“Broken Jewel” tells a powerful story of war, love, and survival .

 New York by Edward Rutherfurd

The intertwining fates of characters rich and poor, black and white, native born and immigrant, brings to life the momentous events that shaped New York City and America: the Revolutionary War, the emergence of the city as a great trading and financial center, the excesses of the Gilded Age, the explosion of immigration in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the trials of World War II, the near-demise of New York in the 1970s and its roaring rebirth in the ’90s, and the attacks on the World Trade Center.

 Hollywood Moon by Joseph Wambaugh

Wambaugh once again masterfully gets inside the hearts and minds of the cops whose jobs have them constantly on the brink of danger. “Hollywood Moon” is his most thrilling and deeply affecting ride yet through the singular streets of LA.

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