by Dan Brown
Robert Langdon, Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology, arrives at the ultramodern Guggenheim Museum Bilbao to attend a major announcement—the unveiling of a discovery that “will change the face of science forever.” The evening’s host is Edmond Kirsch, a forty-year-old billionaire and futurist whose dazzling high-tech inventions and audacious predictions have made him a renowned global figure. Kirsch, who was one of Langdon’s first students at Harvard two decades earlier, is about to reveal an astonishing breakthrough . . . one that will answer two of the fundamental questions of human existence.
As the event begins, Langdon and several hundred guests find themselves captivated by an utterly original presentation, which Langdon realizes will be far more controversial than he ever imagined. But the meticulously orchestrated evening suddenly erupts into chaos, and Kirsch’s precious discovery teeters on the brink of being lost forever. Reeling and facing an imminent threat, Langdon is forced into a desperate bid to escape Bilbao. With him is Ambra Vidal, the elegant museum director who worked with Kirsch to stage the provocative event. Together they flee to Barcelona on a perilous quest to locate a cryptic password that will unlock Kirsch’s secret.
Navigating the dark corridors of hidden history and extreme religion, Langdon and Vidal must evade a tormented enemy whose all-knowing power seems to emanate from Spain’s Royal Palace itself . . . and who will stop at nothing to silence Edmond Kirsch. On a trail marked by modern art and enigmatic symbols, Langdon and Vidal uncover clues that ultimately bring them face-to-face with Kirsch’s shocking discovery . . . and the breathtaking truth that has long eluded us.
by Ron Chernow
“…essential…Chernow is clearly out to find undiscovered nobility in his story, and he succeeds…Grant is vast and panoramic in ways that history buffs will love. Books of its caliber by writers of Chernow’s stature are rare, and this one qualifies as a major event. Chernow grapples with an enormous amount of material, while mostly sustaining a tight focus. He manages to put on Grant goggles and deal primarily with this one soldier’s role in the military, this one leader’s role in the Civil War. And then the role of one president—branded a political amateur—in leading a country still coming apart at the seams…Chernow’s indispensable book, which attempts to see Grant’s life as a triumph, is also steeped in tragedy.” The New York Times – Janet Maslin
by Stephen King, Owen King
This delicious first collaboration between Stephen King (Doctor Sleep) and his son Owen (Intro to Alien Invasion) is a horror-tinged realistic fantasy that imagines what could happen if most of the women of the world fall asleep, leaving men on their own. No one in Dooling County figures the sickness will affect their rural Appalachian life, but TV images of women asleep and unable to be woken, with white membranous stuff wrapped around their heads, makes residents undeniably distraught. Dr. Clinton Norcross of the Dooling Women’s Correctional Facility finds himself unexpectedly in charge of 114 female prisoners when an unhappy guard slips a bunch of Xanax into the coffee of warden Janice Coates, causing her to fall asleep and succumb to the sickness. Clinton’s wife, county sheriff Lila Norcross, is called to the scene of a double murder and explosion; en route, she nearly runs down a half-naked woman standing in the middle of the highway. That woman, Evie, seems to have some connection to the peculiar goings-on, though no one knows what it might be. The authors’ writing is seamless and naturally flowing. The book gets off to a slow start because of the amount of setup needed, but once the action begins, it barrels along like a freight train. Agent: Chuck Verrill, Darhansoff & Verrill Literary; Amy Williams, Williams Company. –Publishers Weekly
Strange Weather: Four Short Novels
by Joe Hill
Hill (The Fireman) delivers on the “strange” in this collection of four novellas, stretching from horror to magical realism to a straight thriller. In “Snapshot,” Hill allegorizes the damage of dementia when preteen Michael must protect his elderly neighbor, Shelly, from the Polaroid Man, who takes away memories with the flash of his camera. He changes genres with “Loaded,” a drama in which gun violence draws together a local journalist who witnessed her adopted brother’s murder by a cop, an adulterous couple with a fondness for guns, and a dishonorably discharged veteran turned mall cop who suspiciously saves the day at a mall shooting. In “Aloft,” a man decides to skydive to impress the woman he loves, but a bizarre crash leaves him stranded on a cloud, where he must face the truth about what loneliness is and how desire can obscure reality. In “Rain,” crystal shards fall from the sky, killing thousands; a woman travels from Boulder to Denver in the middle of the storms to check on her girlfriend’s family, dodging comet cultists and figuring out whether this disaster is related to climate change or chemical warfare. Hill’s collection may not be as horrific as his earlier 20th-Century Ghosts, but its ideas have powerful emotional and political resonance. –Publishers Weekly
The Midnight Line (Jack Reacher Series #22)
by Lee Child
Bestseller Child’s superlative 22nd Jack Reacher novel picks up where 2015’s Make Me left off. While riding a bus in Wisconsin to the next “end-of-the-line place,” Reacher gets off at a rest stop “on the sad side of a small town.” In a pawn shop window, he spots a West Point ring, class of 2005, sized for a small woman. As a West Pointer himself, Reacher knows what it takes to earn that ring—and he wants to find out who it belonged to and why it was pawned. The trail takes him to Rapid City, S.Dak., where he encounters shady Arthur Scorpio—ostensibly a laundromat owner, but of interest to local police and a private investigator from Chicago—and, eventually, to Wyoming. The identity of the ring’s owner is established reasonably quickly, and her backstory (and what Reacher does about it) takes the reader from the wars in Afghanistan to the opioid crisis in America (including a damning thumbnail history of how corporate America has profited from selling heroin in one form or another and a devastating portrait of opioid addiction). As usual, Child makes his narrative entirely credible—and compulsively readable. –Publishers Weekly