December is a strange month for publishing — not quite the end of the year but many annual “best of” lists have already been decided, the big prizes have been given away, and although shoppers may be looking for holiday gifts, they’re likely looking at the things that have caught their attention weeks and months ago. All that to say, not a lot of things are published in December and the ones that are really have to fight to get attention. Are December books by nature underdog titles? I’m not sure but here are four that I think deserve a little bit of extra attention.
Marseille Noir by Cédric Fabre (December 1): A recent episode of Anthony Bourdain’s CNN travel/food program Parts Unknown paid a visit to Marseille, France and included a feature on mystery author Cédric Fabre. Fabre’s noir novels are set in Marseille, but have yet to be translated into English, but this new title from Akashic Books long running series will give you a peek at his writing and that of other authors who have set their stories in the gritty yet beautiful city on the Mediterranean Coast.
Ten Billion Tomorrows: how science fiction technology became reality and shapes the future by Brian Clegg (December 8): As a fiction genre, Science Fiction tends to be very polarizing, with avid fans on side and people who would never dream of picking a title up on the other. I’ve long heard people talk about Science Fiction’s predicted technology and the actual technology that comes to be, now Clegg has written a book on this topic. I think this would should be an interesting read for Science Fiction lovers and haters. “Science fiction is a vital part of popular culture, influencing the way we all look at the world. TV shows like Star Trek and movies from Forbidden Planet to Inception have influenced scientists to enter the profession and have shaped our futures. Science fiction doesn’t set out to predict what will happen – it’s far more about how human beings react to “What if?…” – but it is fascinating to see how science fiction and reality sometimes converge, sometimes take extraordinarily different paths.”
Treacherous Net by Helene Tursten (December 15): The craze for all things Swedish in our crime novels seems to have died down in the last year or two, but there are still a number of Nordic Noir authors who are grabbing readers’ attention in the English speaking world and Helene Tursten is one of them. Tursten is better compared to Henning Mankell than Steig Larsson, and she’s been called the Swedish PD James. The Treacherous Net is the 8th book in the Irene Huss Investigations series.
Piano Maker by Kurt Palka (December 29): According to his bio, this is the sixth novel from Canadian author Palka, but despite that volume of writing, his is far from a household name. The Piano Maker is “The suspenseful, emotionally resonant, and utterly compelling story of what brings an enigmatic French woman to a small Canadian town in the 1930s, a woman who has found depths of strength in dark times and comes to discover sanctuary at last.” This sounds like the type of book that would be good to curl up with by a hot fire on a cold night. If you’re intrigued by this one, you might also explore his previous book Patient Number 7 (also called Clara), another historical novel, that one exploring life in Vienna just before World War II.