New & Notable Books, October 2021

John Appel, Assassin’s Orbit (Solaris 7/21) SF mystery novel about an assassination that could spark interplanetary war, investigated by some older, kick-ass women. ‘‘A compelling, explosive debut…. its layers of multiple competing agendas only get more interesting, and its protagonists – cranky, uncompromising, old enough to have any number of skeletons hidden under their floor­boards – come across as very interesting people…. I couldn’t put it down.’’ [Liz Bourke]



David Brin, The Best of David Brin (Subterranean 8/21) This major retrospective collection presents 21 stories from almost four decades of writing, with notes by Brin on the origins of each.



Courtney Gould, The Dead and the Dark (Wednesday Books 8/21) Two teen girls, one the daughter of TV ghost hunters, investigate the disappearance of local teens, some very strange weather, and their feelings for each other in a rural Oregon town. This young-adult debut novel, mix­ing supernatural thrills and a compelling romance, has been getting some serious buzz.


Laurell K. Hamilton, A Terrible Fall of Angels (Berkley 8/21) Hamilton starts a powerful new fantasy mystery series (so far, not erotic) with this novel set in a fascinatingly different contempo­rary world where angels and the struggle between Heaven and Hell are very real. Detective Zaniel Havelock, member of the Metaphysical Coordina­tion Unit, investigates the murder of a college stu­dent killed by something not quite human, forcing Havelock to deal with his own past, when he trained to work for the angels – and then walked away.



Jordan Ifueko, Redemptor (Amulet 8/21) This second book in the young-adult Raybearer duol­ogy proves as good as, if not better, than the first, with more immersive worldbuilding based on West African lore and likeable characters fighting to change their world, all building to a satisfying conclusion winning considerable critical praise.


Stephen Graham Jones, My Heart Is a Chainsaw (Saga 8/21) Jones takes a fascinating look at slasher films, their formulas and their enduring appeal, in this thriller/horror novel with elements of the supernatural. A half-indigenous girl’s encyclopedic knowledge of slasher films guides her actions when horror strikes her gentrifying rural town, a place with a history of dark happenings.



Richard Kadrey, King Bullet (Harper Voyager US 8/21) Kadrey sticks the landing with this explosive finale to his popular Sandman Slim dark fantasy series. This 12th volume presents new threats to Los Angeles and takes the battle to new levels, with a bittersweet and funny ending.


Stephen King, Billy Summers (Scribner 8/21) King’s latest is a non-supernatural noir thriller, a compelling character study of a hired killer who only kills bad guys, who’s doing one last job when he unexpectedly rescues a woman who becomes his companion on a new mission.


Amber McBride, Me (Moth) (Feiwel and Friends 8/21) McBride’s much-praised first novel is a young-adult tale in free verse mixing Hoodoo and Navajo traditions. Two teens, a Black girl and a Navajo boy, take a road trip searching for their roots and chasing ghosts.



Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Velvet Was the Night (Del Rey 8/21) Moreno-Garcia follows up on her success with Mexican Gothic with this non-supernatural historical noir mystery novel about a daydreaming secretary and a lonesome criminal, both looking for a missing young woman, a search that turns dangerous when it leads to political activ­ists during a period of violent political suppression in 1970s Mexico. A rich tale full of danger, twists, period atmosphere, and a touch of romance.


M. Rickert, The Shipbuilder of Bellfairie (Under­tow 8/21) A misunderstood outcast faces his pain­ful past in this dark fantasy mystery novel, which sees the inarticulate giant Quark return to the town that rejected him to search for his father and find clues to his mother’s mysterious death. Echoes of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the strange town of Bellfairie with its oddball inhabitants, and a twisty plot all add up to a compelling tale centered on a fascinating character.



Adrian Tchaikovsky, Shards of Earth (Orbit US 8/21, Tor UK 5/21) A discovery in space that could save or doom humanity sets off this sweeping new space opera novel, the first in the epic trilogy The Final Architectures. Idris, an enhanced human sol­dier made obsolete when the alien Architects that destroyed Earth disappeared, makes a discovery in space 50 years later, something of Architect origin that criminals, cults, and governments will kill for – sending Idris and his crew on a dangerous galaxy-spanning hunt for answers.


From the October 2021 issue of Locus.

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