Wednesday, September 11, 2013

It’s Autumn: Leaf Through These

If you haven’t heard already, it was 50 years ago this month that John le Carré’s breakout novel, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, was released in Great Britain. That was 1963, the same year another, somewhat more flamboyant author familiar with the machinations of British foreign intelligence--Ian Fleming--witnessed the publication of his 10th James Bond novel, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. While the latter work was something of an adult male fantasy/adventure, filled with brainwashing and gunplay, heroics and a bit of on-the-job romance, the former was a much less optimistic exploration of Cold War spying, in which the protagonist, disgraced Alec Leamas, becomes a pawn in a game being played by more experienced hands.

Writing in The Guardian, the UK’s William Boyd--author of a brand-new Bond outing, Solo--apparently re-read le Carré’s 1963 novel more recently than I, and offers the following diagnosis of that tale’s persistent appeal:
The Spy is set in the early 1960s before the assassination of John F. Kennedy, before the real advent of hippies, the pill, the Vietnam war, the “swinging sixties” and all the familiar counter-cultural baggage that goes with it. Its tone, if anything, is dourly 1950s, its colours grey, its weather depressing. It’s worth remembering that rationing in Britain finally ended in 1954; that the Second World War was a fresh memory (Leamas is a veteran); indeed, that anyone in their 70s would be a survivor of the 1914–18 war, the First World War. The action of the novel takes place half a century ago. It belongs to an entirely different world from the one we know today.

And yet, and perhaps this is the first remarkable comment to make about
The Spy, its cynicism is resolutely de nos jours. One forgets just how unsparing the book is, how the picture it paints of human motivations, human duplicities, human frailty seems presciently aware of all that we have learned and unlearned in the intervening decades. The world was, on the surface, a more innocent, more straightforward place in the early 1960s: there were good guys and bad guys and they were easy to spot. One of the shock effects of reading The Spy when it was published must have been the near-nihilism of its message. It is unremittingly dark--or almost so--and this fact, I believe, lies at the root of its greatness.
It’s almost impossible to guess at the future fate of a novel. Likely, le Carré did not imagine that his 1963 work would go through so many editions over the years and still be considered “great” in 2013. (Fortunately, he’s still around--at almost 82 years of age--to see the book being discovered and enjoyed by new generations.)

In the same way, there’s no telling what will become of this current season’s crop of crime, mystery, and thriller novels. Will any of them still be remembered half a century from now with the same sort of respect that The Spy Who Came in from the Cold enjoys? Possibly, though the odds are against it. Regardless, one must recognize that there are numerous fine entries in this genre due out in bookstores over the next four, chillier months. Frederick Forsyth, Anne Perry, Michael Connelly, Philip Kerr, Sara Paretsky, and George Pelecanos all have fresh fiction winding down the pipeline. As do Max Allan Collins, Theresa Schwegel, Ian Rankin, Jo Nesbø, Val McDermid, David Downing, Ken Bruen, Jeri Westerson, Christopher Fowler, and Wallace Stroby. Even storytelling greats such as Robert Stone and Thomas Pynchon are making contributions to this genre.

Then there are a couple of non-fiction works worth looking out for as well: A Mysterious Something in the Light: The Life of Raymond Chandler, by Tom Williams (coming from Chicago Review Press, after an initial release last year in the UK), and Andrew Lycett’s Ian Fleming (which originally appeared on the other side of “the pond” back in 1995, but is finally being brought to the States by St. Martin’s Press).

You thought your to-be-read pile couldn’t get any higher?

Yeah, well, just wait.

What follows isn’t even close to a comprehensive listing of the crime fiction due out, on both sides of the Atlantic, between now and New Year’s Day, 2014. These are just the works--most than 200 of them!--that I think might be most interesting to the greatest number of Rap Sheet readers, either because of the track records of their authors or the seeming novelty of their plots. If you’d like to see what other titles are being readied for your amusement, check out The Bloodstained Bookshelf and Euro Crime’s future releases page.

And of course you will also want to find some free time in which to re-read The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. Or to read it for the first time. Seriously, if 50 years of prominent recommendations aren’t enough to get you to pay attention to this classic spy tale, whatever will it take?

Alex, by Pierre Lemaitre
(MacLehose Press)
Billboard Man, by Jim Fusilli (Thomas & Mercer)
Bitter River, by Julia Keller (Minotaur)
Black Skies, by Arnaldur Indridason (Minotaur)
Bleeding Edge, by Thomas Pynchon (Penguin Press)
A Blind Goddess, by James R. Benn (Soho Crime)
The Bones of Paris, by Laurie R. King (Bantam)
Cain’s Blood, by Geoffrey Girard (Touchstone)
Catch and Release, by Lawrence Block (Hard Case Crime)
A Commonplace Killing, by Siân Busby (Atria/Marble Arch Press)
Crimson Rose, by M.J. Trow (Crème de la Crime)
A Cruise to Die For, by Charlotte and Aaron Elkins (Thomas & Mercer)
Cut to the Bone, by Jefferson Bass (Morrow)
A Darkness Descending, by Christobel Kent (Pegasus)
Deadly Pleasures, by Martin Edwards (Severn House)
Deceived, by Randy Wayne White (Putnam)
Delia’s Shadow, by Jaime Lee Moyer (Tor)
Detroit Shuffle, by D.E. Johnson (Minotaur)
The Devil’s Moon, by Peter Guttridge (Severn House)
Dick Francis’s Refusal, by Felix Francis (Putnam)
Die-Off, by Kirk Russell (Severn House)
Dime If I Know, by Maggie Toussaint (Five Star)
Doctor Sleep, by Stephen King (Scribner)
Dressed to Kill, by Patricia Hall (Crème de la Crime)
The Edge of Normal, by Carla Norton (Minotaur)
The Facades, by Eric Lundgren (Overlook)
The Final Cut, by Catherine Coulter and J.T. Ellison (Putnam)
Hardcastle’s Traitors, by Graham Ison (Severn House)
Havana Lost, by Libby Fischer Hellmann (Red Herrings Press)
Hearts of Sand, by Jane Haddam (Minotaur)
Help for the Haunted, by John Searles (Morrow)
Hercule Poirot: The Complete Short Stories,
by Agatha Christie (Morrow)
The Impersonator, by Mary Miley (Minotaur)
Japantown, by Barry Lancet (Simon & Schuster)
Killing a Cold One, by Joseph Heywood (Lyons Press)
Lineup, by Liad Shoham (Harper)
Mykonos After Midnight, by Jeffrey Siger (Poisoned Pen Press)
Never Go Back, by Lee Child (Delacorte Press)
Odd Jobs, by Ben Lieberman (Thomas & Mercer)
Others of My Kind, by James Sallis (Bloomsbury)
The Outcasts, by Kathleen Kent (Little, Brown)
A Player to be Maimed Later, by John Billheimer (Five Star)
Pray for the Dying, by Quintin Jardine (Headline)
The Quest, by Nelson DeMille (Center Street)
The Red Queen Dies, by Frankie Y. Bailey (Minotaur)
The Return, by Michael Gruber (Henry Holt)
Robert B. Parker’s Damned If You Do, by Michael Brandman (Putnam)
Ruin Value, by J. Sydney Jones (Mysterious Press/Open Road)
Seven for a Secret, by Lyndsay Faye (Amy Einhorn/Putnam)
The Shogun’s Daughter, by Laura Joh Rowland (Minotaur)
The Silence of the Wave, by Gianrico Carofiglio (Rizzoli Ex Libris)
The Sleep Room, by F.R. (Frank) Tallis (Pegasus)
Solid Citizens, by David Wishart (Crème de la Crime)
Strange Bird, by Anna Jansson (Stockholm Text)
Strangled in Paris, by Claude Izner (Minotaur)
Then We Take Berlin, by John Lawton (Atlantic Monthly Press)
The Thicket, by Joe R. Lansdale (Mulholland)
The Third Eye, by Andrew Seewald (Five Star)
Treasure Hunt, by Andrea Camilleri (Penguin)
Twist, by John Lutz (Pinnacle)
Wayward, by Blake Crouch (Thomas & Mercer)
What Doesn’t Kill Her, by Max Allan Collins (Thomas & Mercer)
W Is for Wasted, by Sue Grafton (Putnam)
The Wrong Girl, by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Forge)

The Backs, by Alison Bruce (C & R Crime)
Black Chalk, by Christopher J. Yates (Harvill Secker)
The Black Country, by Alex Grecian (Penguin)
The Camelot Code,
by Sam Christer (Sphere)
The Cruellest Game, by Hilary Bonner (Pan)
The Cry, by Helen FitzGerald
(Faber and Faber)
Dead of Winter, by Elizabeth Corley
(Allison & Busby)
Death on Blackheath,
by Anne Perry (Headline)
The Deaths, by Mark Lawson (Picador)
The Devil’s Revenge,
by K.N. Shields (Sphere)
The Doll’s House, by Tania Carver (Sphere)
A Ghost at the Door, by Michael Dobbs (Simon & Schuster)
Inspector Singh Investigates, by Shamini Flint (Piatkus)
Jack of Spies, by David Downing (Old Street Publishing)
The Kill List, by Frederick Forsyth (Bantam Press)
Life for a Life, by T.F. (Frank) Muir (C & R Crime)
The Long Shadow, by Liza Marklund (Corgi)
Marina, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
The Murder House, by Simon Beaufort (Severn House)
Norwegian by Night, by Derek B. Miller (Faber and Faber)
An Officer and a Spy, by Robert Harris (Hutchinson)
Prayer, by Philip Kerr (Quercus)
A Price to Pay, by Chris Simms (Crème de la Crime)
The Station Sergeant, by John McAllister (Portnoy)
The Strangler’s Honeymoon, by Håkan Nesser (Mantle)
Where the Dead Men Go, by Liam McIlvanney (Faber and Faber)
Wrongful Death, by Lynda La Plante (Simon & Schuster)

The Abominable, by Dan Simmons (Little, Brown)
Ask Not, by Max Allan Collins (Forge)
Behind the Shattered Glass, by Tasha Alexander (Minotaur)
Border Angels, by Anthony Quinn (Mysterious Press/Open Road)
The Circle of Thirteen, by William Petrocelli (Turner)
The Clearing, by Dan Newman (Exhibit A)
Crimes of Memory, by L.J. Sellers (Thomas & Mercer)
Critical Mass, by Sara Paretsky (Putnam)
Crooked Numbers, by Tim O’Mara (Minotaur)
Cross and Burn, by Val McDermid (Atlantic Monthly Press)
Dead Man’s Time, by Peter James (Minotaur)
Death on Demand, by Paul Thomas (Bitter Lemon Press)
The Double, by George Pelecanos (Little, Brown)
Dry Bones, by Peter Quinn (Overlook)
The Girl in Berlin, by Elizabeth Wilson (Serpent’s Tail)
The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt (Little, Brown)
Happy Mutant Baby Pills, by Jerry Stahl (Harper)
The Heavens Rise, by Christopher Rice (Gallery)
Identical, by Scott Turow (Grand Central)
Inherit the Dead, by Lee Child, C.J. Box, Lawrence Block, Mary Higgins Clark, Charlaine Harris, Val McDermid, et. al (Touchstone)
Just One Evil Act, by Elizabeth George (Dutton)
The Land of Dreams, by Vidar Sundstol (University of
Minnesota Press)
The Last Winter of Dani Lancing, by P.D. Viner (Crown)
Letters from a Murderer, by John Matthews (Exhibit A)
Loot, by Gary Alexander (Five Star)
The Monster of Florence, by Magdalen Nabb (Soho Crime)
Mortal Bonds, by Michael Sears (Putnam)
Never Come Back, by David Bell (New American Library)
NightZone, by Steven F. Havill (Poisoned Pen Press)
Now You See It, by Jane Tesh (Poisoned Pen Press)
The October List, by Jeffery Deaver (Grand Central)
Outlaw, by Mark Sullivan (Minotaur)
Police, by Jo Nesbø (Knopf)
The Preservationist, by Justin Kramon (Pegasus)
Rasputin’s Shadow, by Raymond
Khoury (Dutton)
S., by J.J. Abrams, Doug Dorst (Mulholland)
The Secret Lives of Married Women, by Elissa Wald (Hard Case Crime)
Shadow of the Alchemist, by Jeri
Westerson (Minotaur)
Silent Night: A Spenser Holiday Novel, by Robert B. Parker and Helen Brann (Putnam)
Solo, by William Boyd (Harper)
Spider Woman’s Daughter, by Anne
Hillerman (Harper)
Spirit of Steamboat, by Craig Johnson (Viking)
The Star of Istanbul, by Robert Olen Butler (Mysterious Press)
The Study of Murder, by Susan McDuffie (Five Star)
Storm Front, by John Sandford (Putnam)
Sycamore Row, by John Grisham (Doubleday)
Taken by the Wind, by Ellen Hart (Minotaur)
This House Is Haunted, by John Boyne (Other Press)
Three Can Keep a Secret, by Archer Mayor (Minotaur)
Vicious Circle, by Wilbur Smith (Thomas Dunne/Minotaur)

Art of Deception, by A.J. Cross (Orion)
Bad Blood, by Aline Templeton (Allison & Busby)
Bellman & Black, by Diane Setterfield (Orion)
Blind Justice, by Ethan Cross (Arrow)
The Case of the Love Commandos, by Tarquin Hall (Hutchinson)
Closed for Winter, by Jorn Lier Horst (Sandstone Press)
Favour the Dead, by Mackenzie Smith (Arrow)
Five Dead Canaries, by Edward Marston (Allison & Busby)
He Who Kills the Dragon, by Leif G.W. Persson (Doubleday)
Murder on a Summer’s Day, by Frances Brody (Piatkus)
The Shadow Tracer, by M.G. Gardiner (Penguin)
Silencer, by Andy McNab (Bantam Press)
The Strangling on the Stage, by Simon Brett (Crème de la Crime)
Taking the Fall, by A.P. McCoy (Orion)
Thicker than Water, by Kerry Wilkinson (Pan)
The Woman in Black: Angel of Death, by Martyn Waites (Hammer)

Burnt Black, by Ed Kovacs (Minotaur)
Copper Heart, by Leena Lehtolainen (AmazonCrossing)
Country Hardball, by Steve Weddle (Tyrus)
Cries of the Lost, by Chris Knopf (Permanent Press)
Death at the Clos Du Lac, by Adrian Magson (Allison & Busby)
Death of a Nightingale, by Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis
(Soho Crime)
Death of the Black-Haired Girl, by Robert Stone
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
The Discourtesy of Death, by William Brodrick (Little, Brown)
Dust, by Patricia Cornwell (Putnam)
Everyone in Their Place, by Maurizio de Giovanni (Europa Editions)
The Good Boy, by Theresa Schwegel (Minotaur)
The Hunter and Other Stories, by Dashiell Hammett; edited by Julie M. Rivett and Richard Layman (Mysterious Press)
King and Maxwell, by David Baldacci (Grand Central)
The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon, by Alexander McCall
Smith (Pantheon)
A Nasty Piece of Work, by Robert Littell (Thomas Dunne/Minotaur)
No Man’s Nightingale, by Ruth Rendell (Scribner)
An Old Betrayal, by Charles Finch (Minotaur)
Our Picnics in the Sun, by Morag Joss (Delacorte Press)
Purgatory, by Ken Bruen (Mysterious Press)
The Raven’s Eye, by Barry Maitland (Minotaur)
Takedown Twenty, by Janet Evanovich (Bantam)
Tatiana, by Martin Cruz Smith
(Simon & Schuster)
Through the Evil Days,
by Julia Spencer-Fleming (Minotaur)
Tooth for a Tooth,
by T. Frank Muir
(Soho Crime)

The Axe Factor,
by Colin Cotterill (Quercus)
Casting the First Stone,
by Frances Fyfield (Sphere)
Cockroaches, by Jo Nesbø (Harvill Secker)
Dead Set, by Will Carver (Arrow)
Gold, Frankincense, and Dust, by Valerio Varesi (MacLehose Press)
Hurt, by Brian McGilloway (C&R Crime)
The Inspector and Mrs. Jeffries, by Emily Brightwell (C&R Crime)
The Loch Ness Legacy, by Boyd Morrison (Sphere)
The Lost Testament, by James Becker (Bantam)
The Magus of Hay, by Phil Rickman (Corvus)
The Mangle Street Murders, by M.R.C. Kasasian (Head of Zeus)
Morning Frost, by James Henry (Bantam Press)
Night Train to Jamalpur, by Andrew Martin (Faber and Faber)
Sacrifice, by Max Kinnings (Quercus)
Saints of the Shadow Bible, by Ian Rankin (Orion)
Touching Distance, by Graham Hurley (Orion)
Until Death, by Ali Knight (Hodder & Stoughton)
Watch Your Back, by Karen Rose (Headline)

The Black Life, by Paul Johnston (Crème de la Crime)
Chilled to the Bone, by Quentin Bates (Soho Crime)
Dark Omens, by Rosemary Rowe (Severn House)
Electra, by Kerry Greenwood (Poisoned Pen Press)
The Funeral Owl, by Jim Kelly (Crème de la Crime)
The Gods of Guilt, by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown)
Going Dark, by James W. Hall (Minotaur)
Innocence, by Dean Koontz (Bantam)
Innocent Blood, by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell (Morrow)
The Invisible Code, by Christopher Fowler (Bantam)
Leverage, by Dan Doeden (Five Star)
Lying with Strangers, by Jonnie Jacobs (Five Star)
The Man Who Loved Dogs, by Leonardo Padura
(Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)
Murder on the Orient Espresso, by Sandra Balzo (Severn House)
Noose, by Bill James (Severn House)
The Prince of Risk, by Christopher Reich (Doubleday)
The Purity of Vengeance, by Jussi Adler-Olsen (Dutton)
Shoot the Woman First, by Wallace Stroby (Minotaur)
The Spook Lights Affair, by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini (Forge)
Ten Lords A-Leaping, by C.C. Benison (Delacorte Press)

Darkness First, by James Hayman (Penguin)
The Late Scholar, by Jill Paton Walsh (Hodder & Stoughton)

Did I miss mentioning any books that you’re particularly looking forward to reading over the coming four months? If so, don’t hesitate to mention them in the Comments section below.

READ MORE:Last Chance: 10 Criminous Yarns to Get You Through 2013,” by J. Kingston Pierce (Kirkus Reviews).


Kelly Robinson said...

The Chandler bio is exciting, and I'm always up for a new Lawrence Block.

Unknown said...

the chandler bio is exciting,

Mirza Ghalib said...

Frederick Forsyth's latest offering "The Kill List" is an ordinary affair, similar to his previous offering "The Cobra". You won't find the masterful storytelling that was so evident in "The Day of the Jackal", "Avenger", "The Fist of God", "The Odessa File" etc. In other words, Forsyth has lost his touch. The plot is good, but the description too simplistic. His previous masterpieces contained detailed narratives as well as an intricate plot, not to mention a plot twist at the end. None of this was in display in "The Kill List". I am an admirer of Forsyth, but I have decided not to read his forthcoming works (if there would be any). I wish to remember him as the author of "The Day of the Jackal" and not the boring "Cobra" or "The Kill List".