Friday, December 03, 2004

Synopsize Me

As a result of my incessant browsings on amazon.co.uk, here are a few very-recently posted synopses, that I've not seen anywhere else, of some books coming out next year:

First, Kathy Reichs' Cross Bones (which sounds a little...odd):

The latest gripping thriller from world class forensic anthropologist, Kathy Reichs, bestselling author of Bare Bones and Monday Mourning Temperance Brennan has a mystifying new case in this eighth novel from New York Times bestselling author and world-class forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs. Tempe is called in to interpret the wounds of a man who was shot in the head, but while she tries to make sense of the fracture patterning, an unknown man slips her a photograph of a skeleton, telling her it holds the answer to the victim's death. Detective
Andrew Ryan is also on the case and, as his relationship with Tempe heats up, together they try to figure out who this orthodox Jew in the Israeli "import business" really was. Was he involved in the black market trade in antiquities? And what is the significance of the photo? With the help of Jacob Drum, a biblical archaeologist and old friend from the University of North Carolina, Tempe follows the trail of clues all the way to Israel. In the Holy Land, she learns of a strange ossuary at Masada, a shroud, and a tomb that may have held the remains of Jesus's family. But the further she probes into the identity of the ancient skeleton, the more she seems to be putting herself in danger...


This has been up for a while, but as it's predecessor hasn't even been released in the US yet, here's more detailed info on Stephen Booth's The Dead Place:

Bones where there should be none and a chilling warning of an imminent killing lead Peak District detectives Ben Cooper and Diane Fry to a crypt full of skulls in the sixth novel from award-winning author Stephen Booth. The messages could be the work of a hoaxer obsessed with death, but when a woman is abducted from a multi-storey car park the mystery caller who taunts the Derbyshire Police with talk of the irresistible scent of death cannot be ignored - particularly when the warnings grow ever more ominous. Meanwhile Ben Cooper's attempts to put a name to some unidentified remains lead to an ancestral home whose dark secrets have become the stuff of legend in the White Peak area.

Reginald Hill's first stand-alone in years, The Stranger House:

Things move slowly in the tiny village of Illthwaite, but that's about to change with the arrival of two strangers. Sam Flood is a young Australian post-grad en route to Cambridge. Miguel Madero is a Spanish historian in flight from a priests' seminary. They have nothing in common and no connection, except that they both want to dig up bits of the past that some people would rather keep buried. Sam is looking for information about her grandmother who left Illthwaite courtesy of the child migrant scheme four decades earlier. The past Mig is interested in is more than four centuries old. They meet in the village pub, The Stranger House, remnant of the old Illthwaite Priory. They don't take to each other. Sam believes that anything that can't be explained by maths isn't worth explaining; Mig sees ghosts; Sam is a fun-loving, experienced young woman; Mig is a 26-year-old virgin. But once their paths cross, they become increasingly entangled as they pursue what at first seem to be separate quests, finding out the hard way who to trust and who to fear in this ancient village whose lines of power run from Illthwaite Hall, home of the Catholic Woollasses.


Laura Wilson's A Thousand Lies (which has actually been up for ages as well...):

In 1987, Sheila Shand was given a suspended sentence for killing her father. At the trial it emerged that farmworker Donald Shand was a sadistic brute who had terrorised, beaten and sexually abused his wife and two daughters for almost forty years. In 2004, novelist Amy Vaughan is researching for a book when she comes across Sheila Shand's senile mother, Iris, in an old people's home. She's curious about the elderly woman who sits poring over a photograph album of family snaps, because Amy has been aware from an early age that photographs tell lies - her mother, who suffers from Munchausen's by Proxy, used snaps of her 'sick' daughter to try to keep the affections of her father, a charismatic but elusive conman. Then he appears on Amy's doorstep after a long absence and tells her that he is dying of pancreatic cancer. On past records, she shouldn't believe him. Amy agrees to let her father stay for a while, and, as she reluctantly becomes embroiled in some of his shady schemes, she discovers that he is hiding from a creditor who is very angry indeed and prepared to stop at nothing in order to reclaim his cash. She also begins to find out more about the Shand case, and realises that there is much more to the murder than the police ever discovered, including the mysterious disappearances of both Sheila's sister Mo and the wife of Donald Shand's employer, and the discovery of a long-buried skeleton in woods in near the Shand home...

Barbara Vine's The Minotaur:

Kerstin Kvist didn't quite know what to expect when she took up a job with the Cosway family at their odd, almost grand home, Lydstep Old Hall, deep in the Essex countryside. The family turned out to be even odder than the house: the widowed Mrs Cosway lived with her three unmarried daughters, in thrall to the old lady. A mysterious fourth daughter - a widow herself and apparently quite rich - came and went, with ill-disguised contempt for the others. More puzzling still was Mrs Cosway's son, John, a sad, self-absorbed figure in his thirties who haunted the house. There's madness in the family' offered one of the daughters by way of explanation, but Kerstin had trained as a nurse and knew it wasn't right to be administering such powerful drugs to a vulnerable figure like John. Barbara Vine's new book, her twelfth, is compelling in its depiction of the sex, lies and secrets within an apparently respectable family, at a time when the sixties revolution hadn't quite reached rural England.
The Silence of the Grave by Arnaldur Indridason:

Building work in an expanding Reykjavik uncovers a shallow grave. Years before, this part of the city was all open hills, and Erlendur and his team hope this is a typical Icelandic missing person scenario; perhaps someone once lost in the snow, who has lain peacefully buried for decades. Things are never that simple. Whilst Erlendur struggles to hold together the crumbling fragments of his own family, his case unearths many other tales of family pain. The hills have more than one tragic story to tell: tales of failed relationships and heartbreak; of anger, domestic violence and fear; of family loyalty and family shame. Few people are still alive who can tell the story, but even secrets taken to the grave cannot remain hidden forever.
And, finally (I've got more but I'll stop), Puccini's Ghosts by Morag Joss, her most recent novel since winning the Silver Dagger last year:

It is the summer of 1960 and fifteen-year-old Lila's life is about to change forever. Set free from the confines of school, her prison is the small unremarkable town of Burnhead, on the west coast of Scotland. She dreams of escape: from Burnhead, from the damp, from her mother's hysterics, her father's stolidity, and her parents' loveless marriage. Salvation arrives in the form of her beloved Uncle George, a music teacher from London who decides to stage an amateur production of Puccini's Turandot. Lila, in love for the first time, maps out a future for herself in which reality and fantasy fuse to form a dangerous mixture, threatening to destroy herself and all those around her. Beautifully written novel and intently observed, Morag Joss's new novel about conscience and consequence is an stunning, complex journey into the dark, claustrophobic heart of a family in crisis.
Oh, and they often change, but for those obsessed (a la me), they've also put up UK cover photo's of the next books by Harlan Coben and Lee Child.