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 Weekly Words about New Books in
Independent Bookstores

January 7, 2018

New Year Kicks Off With Great New Paperback Reads - Part 1
 
Celine by Peter Heller. Although this lovely book about an aging private eye does feature a legitimate mystery, you're as likely to find it on the Fiction shelves in independent bookstores. If so, Celine may well be next to Heller's previous literate and well-regarded novels, The Dog Stars and The Painter.
 
In any case, the protagonist Celine is not your typical detective. For one thing, she's an East Coast blue blood and Sarah Lawrence grad. For another, she's nearly 70 and not as spry as she used to be. She is also a whiz at tracking down missing persons, which is why a young woman named Gabriela hires Celine to find out what happened to her father. Twenty years earlier, dear old dad - a photographer for National Geographic - disappeared in Wyoming, so Celine and hubby Pete (a great sidekick with skills of his own) head out West to Yellowstone National Park to investigate. It's a cold trail, and the body was never found, but when it becomes clear that our heroes are being followed, the case takes a more dangerous turn. Heller keeps the investigation leisurely and includes some nice descriptions of the natural beauty of Yellowstone while providing a satisfying ending that may make some readers hopeful for a sequel.  
   
 
The Dry by Jane Harper. This was one of the two or three best mysteries I read last year, and now that it's in paperback I'm delighted that I can recommend it to a wider group of readers in the bookstore where I work. This taut, atm ospheric tale is set in a small Australian town in the throes of a crippling drought. It's where Aaron Falk lived as a boy until he was accused of murder and saved from prosecution only because his best friend Luke insisted the two were together at the time of the killing. Not everyone believed the story, and Falk and his father fled the town under a cloud of suspicion. But 20 years later, Falk - now a Federal Agent - returns to attend Luke's funeral. Reluctantly, he gets drawn into an investigation of Luke's death and must deal with long-buried mysteries resurfacing. And through it all, the worst drought in a century hangs over the town, a persistent character in its own right whose impact on the proceedings remains throughout.  
 
More New Paperbacks Next Week!  
Indies' Favorite New Book in January Arrives in Bookstores This Week
 
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin. The #1 pick on the January Indie Next list is a novel dealing with a subject that I suspect most of us have thought about - at least in the abstract - at one time or another. If someone could tell you for certain when you were going to die, would you want to know? In the case of Benjamin's four sibling protagonists, the answer is yes, and that information affects their life decisions going forward. It's an intriguing premise, and the book has garnered lots of pre-publication buzz. In addition to the independent bookseller love, The Immortalists has landed on several Must Read lists for 2018. Here's the Indie Next bookseller review:
 
"In 1969, four siblings visit a fortune teller, who tells each child the date of their death. We follow the Gold siblings both separately and together over the next four decades and see how these revelations affect their choices, their behavior, and their relationships with one another. Apart from raising the obvious question (would you want to know the date of your death?), Benjamin brilliantly explores how family members can be both close to and distant from one another, and ponders the point at which our actions cease to matter and fate steps in. I LOVED The Immortalists, and if there's any justice in bookselling, this book will find the massive audience it so deserves.
      Erika VanDam, RoscoeBooks, Chicago, IL  
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WHY THE COLUMN?
Hi, I'm Hut Landon, and I work as a bookseller in an independent bookstore in BerkeIey, California.

My goal with this newsletter is to keep readers up to date about new books hitting the shelves, share what indie booksellers are recommending in their stores, and pass on occasional news about the book world.

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