Faces of Fear
by John Saul
336 pp. Ballantine Books. $26.00
Official John Saul Website
Beauty may be only skin deep, but to the denizens of Beverly Hills and Bel Air, it means the world. Fifteen-year-old Alison Shaw may not be beautiful, but she doesn't really care: she'd much rather read a good book than primp in front of a mirror anyway. But Alison's mother, Risa, knows that beauty can be a key to success, and she wishes only the best for her daughter. Be careful what you wish for.
When Risa marries a widowed plastic surgeon and moves Alison from Santa Monica to Bel Air, everything changes; everywhere mother and daughter look, their new world is filled with beautiful people, many of whom have benefited from the skills of Alison's new stepfather, the charismatic Conrad Dunn, who is certain he can turn Alison into a vision of beauty. Risa is delighted by Conrad's assurances-and drawn to his cool confidence and deep-set eyes. Reluctantly, Alison agrees to undergo the first procedure, and her transformation begins. But soon Alison discovers a picture of Conrad's first wife, who killed herself after being disfigured in a car accident. To Alison's horror, she notices a resemblance between the image in the photo and the work her stepfather is doing on her. Though Risa refuses to acknowledge the strange similarity, Alison becomes increasingly frightened. Digging further into her stepfather's murky past, Alison uncovers dark secrets-and even darker motives-involving a string of grim murders that began even before she was born. And when at last she catches sight of what she will soon be seeing in her own mirror, she knows her worst fears are fast becoming her reality.
by Debra Ginsberg
352 pp. Shaye Areheart Books. $23.95
Official Debra Ginsberg Website
What happens when a pseudo psychic suddenly gets the real gift?
Marina Marks has been on the grift as a psychic since she was a child, forced into the business by a junkie mother who was always desperate for her next fix—and willing to use her solemn dark-haired daughter to peddle an extra buck. As an adult, Marina has earned a handsome living preying on the dreams and fears of her clients. She doesn’t believe there is such a thing as psychic ability, but she does believe in intuition. Her gift is the ability to gain the trust of her clients and subtly raise her fees as they become more attached to her and her readings.
But when Marina moves her “intuitive counseling” business out of muggy, cloying Florida to the milder environs of southern California, her past follows her. As she takes on new clients—a trophy wife desperate to bear a child, a gay man involved with a closeted psychiatrist, and a philandering businessman who’s smitten with her—a former client resurfaces in an eerie way. Suddenly, Marina is in love for the first time, but it is a romance whose roots lie deep in her past and threaten her efforts to reinvent herself.
As Marina’s life gets more and more entangled with those of her clients, she makes a startling discovery: she suddenly has the actual ability to see the future. After predicting a murder exactly as it happens, she becomes the sole suspect. Now she’s the desperate one—desperate to clear her name and to discover the meaning behind her visions.
One More Year: Stories
by Sana Krasikov
240 pp. Spiegel & Grau. $21.95
Sana Krasikov at Random House Website
Every so often a new writer appears who is wiser than her years would suggest, whose flesh-and-blood characters embody more experience than a young writer could possible know. Sana Krasikov is one of those writers. Her first published story appeared in the New Yorker, her second in The Atlantic Monthly’s fiction issue. One More Year is her debut collection, made up of stories of people who hold out hope, despite the odds, that life will be kind to them.
The characters who populate Krasikov’s stories are mostly women–some are new to America; some still live in the former Soviet Union, in Georgia or Russia; and some have returned to Russia to find a country they barely recognize and people they no longer understand. Mothers leave children behind; children abandon their parents. Almost all of them look to love to repair their lives, and when love isn’t really there, they attempt to make do with relationships that substitute for love.
Like Jhumpa Lahiri and ZZ Packer, two writers whose fully-realized characters drive their fiction, Sana Krasikov is an exhilarating talent whose first collection puts her on the map with today's most talented young authors.
Bitten to Death
by Jennifer Rardin
320 pp. Orbit. $12.99
Official Jennifer Rardin Website
Jaz Parks here. My latest mission has taken me to the ancient Greek city of
The Raptor is trying to take over Vayl's former Trust. Unfortunately the Trust's new leader has her own plans.
This job is going to be the death of me.
by Amy MacKinnon
272 pp. Shaye Areheart Books. $24.00
Official Amy MacKinnon Website
Clara Marsh is an undertaker who doesn’t believe in God. She spends her solitary life among the dead, preparing their last baths and bidding them farewell with a bouquet from her own garden. Her carefully structured life shifts when she discovers a neglected little girl, Trecie, playing in the funeral parlor, desperate for a friend.
It changes even more when Detective Mike Sullivan starts questioning her again about a body she prepared three years ago, an unidentified girl found murdered in a nearby strip of woods. Unclaimed by family, the community christened her Precious Doe. When Clara and Mike learn Trecie may be involved with the same people who killed Precious Doe, Clara must choose between the stead-fast existence of loneliness and the perils of binding one’s life to another.
The King's Gold
by Arturo Perez-Reverte
304 pp. Putnam. $24.95
Official Arturo Perez-Reverte Website
Arturo Pérez-Reverte has enthralled readers and critics around the globe with his Captain Alatriste series. Having sold four and a half million copies to date in the Spanish-speaking world, the series has made Pérez-Reverte a literary superstar and his fictional seventeenth-century mercenary a national icon.
The King’s Gold picks up in Seville, 1626. After serving with honor at the bloody siege of Breda, Captain Alatriste and his protégé, Inigo Balboa, have returned: battle-weary, short of cash, and with few prospects for honest work. But the Spanish empire is as dangerous as ever, and it’s not long before Alatriste receives an intriguing offer of short-term employment. He and Inigo must recruit a dozen swordsmen and mercenaries for a risky job involving a dazzling amount of contraband gold and a heavily guarded Spanish galleon returning from the West Indies. The offer comes from the king himself, for at stake is nothing less than the Spanish Crown, and its dominion over the wealth of the Americas.
The seedy taverns, the teeming prisons of Seville, the sand dunes of Guadalquivir find Alatriste, Inigo, and their motley band of cutthroats embarking on a new adventure, one that brings them surprising new alliances and perilous encounters with old enemies.
Possession (The Runestone Sage)
by Chris Humphreys
384 pp. Knopf Books for Young Readers. $16.99
Official Chris Humphreys Website
RUNE MAGIC, TIME travel, transformation: Sky’s grandfather opened up a world of limitless possibility . . . then asked the impossible. He asked Sky to kill a man.
Sky and Kristin know they have to stop Sigurd. But how, when he can possess any person, any beast, at will? Once more, the answer is to be found back along the bloodlines. The secret of possession lies in Meg, an accused witch, and in Matthew, the Witchfinder determined to capture her. But the price for knowing what Sigurd knows is steep—to defeat their grandfather, will they have to become exactly like him?
In this thrilling conclusion to the Runestone Saga, the final choice between everlasting life and the necessity of death will be made at one of the great turning points in history—a battle, quite literally, for all time. And the outcome rests precariously on one final cast of the runes. . . .