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Home » The Early Word: New and Notable Fiction for the Week of July 7, 2008

The Early Word: New and Notable Fiction for the Week of July 7, 2008

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After an exciting June, there's just not that much happening in the world of fiction so far this month. In many ways, that's to be expected; after all, the big blockbusters of the summer are out there making the rounds on the bestseller lists waiting for summer readers to snatch them up. By the time August rolls around, the books industry will already be gearing up for holiday shopping, preparing for an even bigger wave of new books.

That doesn't mean there's nothing interesting that's been released in July. We can always count on the usual suspects, such as new mystery books and romance novels. And this week has a couple out that are certainly worth mentioning.

Already establishing himself as one of the best detective novel writers, Robert Crais' latest novel, Chasing Darkness, continues to follow L.A. detective Elvis Cole through the twists and turns of a lucrative murder mystery. This time, Cole is on the trail of a serial murderer (Lionel Byrd) who has suddenly reappeared, but not because he's out murdering again; he has just committed suicide and Cole is assigned to investigate. There's only one problem: Cole discovers that Byrd, the man he once helped clear of murder, was truly the serial killer Cole had sought out for years. Cole must discover the truth, and jumps into a lengthy investigation where he must face his own past while hunting for justice.

Crais has mastered the art of a good detective novel because of his consistency, and even though the core elements of a mystery novel are here in Chasing Darkness, the introspective nature of this novel as Cole comes to grips with his own guilt reveal some developments in this series that are worth reading. The Los Angeles Times has an excellent review on the book that explores Crais' evolving characters – even if the basic elements of plot remain the same.

If you're looking for something a bit lighter, Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez returns with her sassy brand of chick-lit with her latest book Dirty Girls On Top. A sequel to Valdes-Rodgriguez's Dirty Girls Social Club, Dirty Girls On Top finds the girls reuniting and trying to figure out what to do next. Although the New York Daily News calls Dirty Girls On Top a "busy, busy book" that's crammed full of too many divergent plot lines – including plenty of affairs as the women cheat on their husbands or try to come to terms with bulimia and Catholicism – it still remains an easy to follow, fast-paced read that tests friendship and loyalty.

Of course, there are plenty more fiction books that have come out so far in July, so here are a couple more worth checking out:

The Condition by Jennifer Haigh
The Last Patriot by Brad Thor
Kristen (Clique Summer Collection Series #4) by Lisi Harrison

Stop in the Name of Pants! by Louise Rennison
The Summoning (Darkest Powers Series #1) by Kelley Armstrong
Y: The Last Man, Volume 10: Whys and Wherefores by Brian K. Vaughan
Tribute by Nora Roberts
Swan Peak by James Lee Burke
Silent Thunder by Iris Johansen
Palace Council by Stephen L. Carter
Sleeping Arrangements by Madeleine Wickham
Victory of Eagles by Naomi Novik

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