The start of 2011 seems to bring the prospect of masses of books being published. I am not sure if this is a relief or not, after the paucity of December, given the number I already plan to read. I think on balance it is reassuring. I wonder if 2011 will be the year that The Bookseller has monthly new ebook (all formats) announcements? For the time being, we in the UK can look forward to quite a few printed new paperbacks in January. Because the new design of The Bookseller does not allow as much space as previously for the preview features, when there are a lot of books they are not described in much detail. The predicted top-sellers, in particular, are mentioned very briefly: Caught by Harlan Coben, The Shadow of Your Smile by Mary Higgins Clark, Dark Blood by Stuart MacBride, The Killing Place by Tess Gerritsen and a few others including the obligatory JP.
Under "ones to watch" is a thriller by James Hayman called The Cutting (Penguin), said to be the first in a series featuring former NYPD Michael McCabe. However, as this book is about a serial killer "harvesting" the hearts of beautiful women, I shan't be reading it – sounds like bore as well as gore to me. Another grim one is also first in a new series (publisher: Arrow) Kill Me Once by Jon Osborne (an author's name that made me look twice), "a big, new American thriller launch, dual-narrative, FBI female cop and killer, all very involved, very damaged characters and lots of gory murders". Probably not one I'll be picking up either.
Perhaps more appealing to me until the blurb got to the dreaded "s…k…" words is The Whisperer by Donato Carrisi (Abacus), "gripping international crime meets literary fiction, perfect for Stieg Larsson fans to move on to I'm told. [sic] It won numerous prizes in its native Italy…. a serial killer debut with some most unexpected twists."
Under the "crime and thrillers" category is Michael Robotham's latest, Bleed For Me (Sphere), a popular author with whom I have parted company over his unacceptable (to me) treatment of women (mothers) and young girls in his last novel. There is also Accused by Mark Giminez (Sphere). I have only read one by this author, his debut, which was quite easy going in John Grisham style. Blue Heaven by C. J. Box (Corvus) is also out in paperback, and one I recommend, as is The Killer's Art by Mari Jungstedt (Corgi), one of her Gotland series which I enjoyed very much. Other crime novels out in paperback in January that I have not read but might are Death Toll by Jim Kelly (Penguin), one of his Shaw/Valentine series; Beyond Reach by Graham Hurley (Orion), a Joe Faraday novel; and The Company of Shadows by Ruth Newman (Pocket), which has just received a very good write-up at Reviewing the Evidence and which I shall definitely read (her debut, Twisted Wing, won the Long Barn Books first novel award). Deborah Crombie's Necessary as Blood (Pan) is another Gemma Jones story. This author, after starting out very well indeed, became too Elizabeth George-like for me but I might try her again as I have just about recovered from the one about the Scottish distilliaries. There is a sad lack of translated fiction among the crime novels featured here, apart from the book by Mari Jungstedt (originally written in Swedish), and the one by Carrisi.
There are a couple of "adventure/conspiracy" titles: Matt Hilton's Cut and Run (Hodder), the fourth Joe Hunter novel; and Scott Mariani's The Lost Relic (Avon) – billed as "Dan Brown's territory with an Italian setting"! Also lots of historical novels, one of which looks particularly interesting, Snow Hill by Mark Sanderson (Harper), set in 1936 London and about "the gay underworld, corrupt police and a trail of corpses. It's a clever debut and the start of a trilogy." Another intriguing title is The Brothers Boswell by Philip Baruth (Corvus), set in Georgian times with a killer stalking James Boswell and Samuel Johnson. After all the Jane Austen (et al.) mash-ups with zombies and so on, I am at a loss to know what the next fad will be, but clearly the inventiveness of authors is not diminished on the basis of some of these descriptions.
Not strictly crime, but I thought I'd mention that This Perfect World by Suzanne Bulger (Pan) is out in paperback in January, a debut about a young mother whose world is turned upside down by the plight of an old school classmate whom she had bullied. This is one I certainly plan to read.