Fiction 5: Fascinating new reads

Fiction 5

You’ll find thrills, humor, romance and drama in my picks for November’s best new books. In The Spy Coast a group of retired CIA agents prove they haven’t lost their edge or their sense of humor. Five generations of women work to remake their worlds and rebuild their futures in A Grandmother Begins the Story. The Manor House is a terrifying story of what can happen after all your dreams come true. There are secret board meetings, vicious smear campaigns and hate to love in Next-Door Nemesis. Absolution focuses on the moral dilemmas of American wives during the Vietnam War and it’s continued impact on their lives.

1. The Spy Coast by Tess Gerritsen

Former spy Maggie Bird just found a dead body in her driveway in the small town of Purity, Maine. She retired from the CIA 17 years ago and was enjoying a quiet life of anonymity. After finding the body and being shot at from across a field, Maggie’s friends in the Martini Club put down their drinks and dust off their spy skills.

These cantankerous retired agents haven’t lost their edge. They’ll do what it takes to protect each other.

“Master storyteller Tess Gerritsen has written an ingenious, spellbinding novel that moves from Bangkok to a small town in Maine, seductive settings where secrets are kept and lives upended…The Spy Coast is utterly thrilling, full of morally complex characters with deeply buried secrets and a life-and-death chase into the past and back again. It’s a great novel.” —Luanne Rice, New York Times bestselling author

“Gerritsen … branches out into the world of espionage … expertly mixing spy drama with romance and wry comedy… Gerritsen fans and readers of Richard Osman’s Thursday Murder Club mysteries will love this.” –Booklist (starred review)


2. A Grandmother Begins the Story by Michelle Porter

A Grandmother Begins the Story follows five generations of women and bison as they reach for the stories that could remake their worlds and rebuild their futures.

Carter is a young mother, recently separated. She is curious, angry, and on a quest to find out what the heritage she only learned of in her teens truly means. Allie, Carter’s mother, is trying to make up for the lost years with her first born. She’s also trying to protect Carter from the hurt she suffered from her own mother.

Lucie wants the granddaughter she’s never met to help her join her ancestors in the Afterlife. And Geneviève is determined to conquer her demons before the fire inside burns her up.

Meanwhile, Mamé, in the Afterlife, knows all their stories began with her. She must find a way to cut herself from the last threads that keep her tethered to the living just as they must find their own paths forward.

“Michelle Porter’s novel, A Grandmother Begins the Story, is charged with huge blasts of imaginative force — magical in every way. In this novel, divided families come together, there are wise bison, and dogs with opinions, an Indigenous family history spanning generations. … Porter is sometimes knee-slappingly funny, sometimes wry, poignant, nuanced, and gleefully irreverent. But this novel is full of reverence for the most important things: music and stories. Porter’s characters are tough and tender, courageous and flawed, and so true to life you’ll go back to the beginning as soon as you turn the last page, because you can’t stand for it to be over. Michelle Porter’s voice is unique, uber-alive, utterly gorgeous. Just, WOW!” ―Lisa Moore, award-winning author of This is How We Love


3. The Manor House by Gilly MacMillan

This is a terrifying story of what can happen after all your dreams come true.

Childhood sweethearts Nicole and Tom’s lives are changed overnight when they win the lottery. They move into a state-of-the-at Glass Barn in Gloucestershire. They buy fancy cars, start expensive hobbies and are living the high life. Then Nicole finds Tom dead in their swimming pool. Was it an accident or something sinister?

“On a private peninsula on the border of Wales, a lottery winner builds a glass house…The neighbors aren’t quite what they seem – but then nobody and nothing is in this gripping new thriller by Gilly Macmillan – the mistress of classy suspense.” – Shari Lapena, author of Everyone Here Is Lying

“There aren’t many books that deliver a twist I didn’t see coming. But this was one of them! A one-sit read! Creepy, compelling and superbly plotted!” —Sarah Pearse, New York Times bestselling author of The Sanatorium and The Retreat


4. Next-Door Nemesis by Alexa Martin

Collins Carter and Nate Adams are both back in their suburban hometown. Collins is not where she hoped to be, she’s living in her parents house gardening with her retired dad. Nate was happily living a comfortable quiet life until Collins moved back.

Now they’re running against each other for homeowners’ association president. There are secret board meetings and vicious smear campaigns whispered over backyard fences. Collins and Nate sink to levels their sleepy suburb has never seen before. But as hate turns into lust, these two enemies are forced to reckon with the feelings they’ve ignored for years.

“A hilariously fun roller coaster of laughs and passion! Collins and Nathaniel have explosive chemistry and take suburban warfare to outrageously fun heights! Next-Door Nemesis is hate to love at its finest.”–Sarah Adams, New York Times bestselling author of Practice Makes Perfect


5. Absolution by Alice McDermott

Absolution focuses on American wives during the Vietnam War. Tricia is a shy newlywed, married to a rising attorney on loan to navy intelligence. Charlene is a practiced corporate spouse and mother of three, a beauty and a bully. In Saigon in 1963 the women form a wary alliance. They are trying to balance the era’s mandate to be “helpmates” to their husbands with their own impulse to “do good” for the people of Vietnam.

Sixty years later Charlene’s daughter is spurred by an encounter with an aging Vietnam vet to reach out to Tricia. They look back at their time in Saigon and discover how their own lives have been shaped and burdened by America’s tragic interference in Southeast Asia.

“Alice McDermott has always been one of our greatest writers but here she exceeds every expectation. Absolution is one of the finest contemporary novels I’ve read. It is a moral masterpiece.” –Ann Patchett, author of Tom Lake

Damning and dazzling, this is the story of a Vietnam we never got in history class―a story of innocence lost, the bounds of womanhood tested, and our nation held to account.” ―Charley Burlock, Oprah Daily


I’m the library’s fiction selector and I’ve been suggesting new books to library and bookmobile customers for over 25 years. I keep up on all the new book reviews, and my favorite question is “What are you reading?” I love to talk about books and to read books. I like to tell library customers, “Try something new. If the book doesn’t grab you, we have many more to choose from."