What’s the deal with paranormal cozy mysteries these days? They’re everywhere, and three of our ten genre-benders this month fall into that category. The steampunk train seems to be slowing with only a few offerings ) a couple slid into the science fiction listings), but nothing says holiday like a good horror or alternative history. The must-grab this month just might be a star-studded multi-genre speculative anthology ruminating on what it’s like to be human for a day.
Fiction Affliction details releases in science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and “genre-benders.” Keep track of them all here.
Dead Bolt, by Juliet Blackwell (Dec. 6, Signet)
Turner Construction’s latest restoration project is a historic Queen Anne Victorian in San Francisco. This time general contractor Mel Turner has to work around the owners who insist on sticking around, along with some ghosts that insist in their own way that the work stops. The ghosts aren’t the only ones standing in the way of the renovations. A crotchety neighbor, Emile Blunt, secretly wants this house, and could be behind some of the disturbances. But when Emile is found dead, it’s Mel who appears guilty. Now she must restore the building—and her reputation—before it’s too late. The second Haunted Home Repair mystery.
Spells & Stitches, by Barbara Bretton (Dec. 6, Berkley)
Sugar Maple, Vermont, knitting store owner Chloe Hobbs couldn’t be happier about her pregnancy. But with the arrival of the town’s newest resident, things are about to get a lot more magical. Baby Laria is six pounds, eleven ounces of perfect, and Chloe and Luke are over the moon. But when they learn that Laria takes after her mom in the sorcery department, it becomes clear that their baby might have more power than even a pro like Chloe can handle. A book in the Knitting Mystery series.
Himmler’s War, by Robert Conroy (Dec. 6, Baen)
Only days after Normandy, Hitler is taken out of the equation and Heinrich Himmler, brutal head of the SS, assumes control of the Reich. On the Allied side, there is confusion. Should attempts be made to negotiate with the new government or should unconditional surrender still be the only option? With the specter of a German super-weapon moving closer to completion and the German generals finally allowed to fight the kind of war at which they are masters, the allies are pushed toward a course of accommodation or even defeat. Will the soldiers of the Grand Alliance find the courage and conviction to fight on in the face of such daunting odds?
Human for a Day, edited by Martin H. Greenberg & Jennifer Brozek (Dec. 6, DAW)
Here’s an anthology that examines what it means to be human in all its positive and negative aspects. If you were an intelligent robot, would the opportunity to become human for a day be worth the risks? If a magic spell switched the bodies of a vampire and a teenage girl, would both savor the experience or search for a way to undo the enchantment? Sixteen original stories from Ian Tregillis, Jay Lake, Seanan McGuire, Anton Strout, Fiona Patton, Erik Scott de Bie, Dylan Birtolo, Tanith Lee, Laura Resnick, Jean Rabe, Tim Waggoner, Eugie Foster, Jody Lynn Nye, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, David D. Levine, and Jim C. Hines.
Planesrunner, by Ian McDonald (Dec. 6, Pyr)
When Everett Singh’s scientist father is kidnapped from the streets of London, he leaves young Everett a mysterious app on his computer. Suddenly, this fourteen-year-old has become the owner of the most valuable object in the multiverse—the Infundibulum—the map of all the parallel earths, and there are dark forces in the Ten Known Worlds who will stop at nothing to get it. They’ve got power, authority, and the might of ten planets—some of them more technologically advanced than our Earth—at their fingertips. He’s got wits, intelligence, and a knack for Indian cooking. To keep the Infundibulum safe, Everett must trick his way through the Heisenberg Gate his dad helped build and go on the run in a parallel Earth. Young Adult.
The Doctor and the Kid, by Mike Resnick (Dec. 20, Pyr)
The time is 1882. With the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral behind him, the consumptive Doc Holliday makes his way to Deadwood, Colo., where he plans to spend the rest of his short life. But one night he gets a little too drunk and loses everything at the gaming table. He realizes that he needs to replenish his bankroll, and quickly, so he can live out his days in comfort. He considers his options and hits upon the one most likely to produce income in a hurry: he’ll use his shooting skills to turn bounty hunter. The biggest reward is for the death of the young desperado known as Billy the Kid. It’s clear from the odds the Kid has faced and beaten that he is protected by some powerful magic. Doc enlists the aid of both magic (Geronimo) and science (Thomas Edison), and goes after his quarry. But as he soon finds out, nothing is as easy as it looks.The “weird west” sequel to last year’s The Buntline Special.
Hell Train, by Christopher Fowler (Dec. 27, Solaris)
Four passengers meet on a train journey through Eastern Europe during the First World War, and face a mystery that must be solved if they are to survive. As the Arkangel races through the war-torn countryside, they must find out: What is in the casket that everyone is so afraid of? What is the tragic secret of the veiled Red Countess who travels with them? Why is their fellow passenger, the army brigadier, so feared by his own men? And what exactly is the devilish secret of the Arkangel itself? Bizarre creatures, satanic rites, terrified passengers and the romance of traveling by train, all in a classically styled horror novel.
77 Shadow Street, by Dean Koontz (Dec. 27, Bantam)
The Pendleton stands on the summit of Shadow Hill at the highest point of an old heartland city, a Gilded Age palace built in the late 1800s as a tycoon’s dream home. Almost from the beginning, its grandeur has been scarred by episodes of madness, suicide, mass murder, and whispers of things far worse. But since its rechristening in the 1970s as a luxury apartment building, the Pendleton has been at peace. For its fortunate residents—among them a successful songwriter and her young son, a disgraced ex-senator, a widowed attorney, and a driven money manager—the Pendleton’s magnificent quarters are a sanctuary, its dark past all but forgotten.But now inexplicable shadows caper across walls, security cameras relay impossible images, phantom voices mutter in strange tongues, not-quite-human figures lurk in the basement, elevators plunge into unknown depths. With each passing hour, a terrifying certainty grows: Whatever drove the Pendleton’s past occupants to their unspeakable fates is at work again.
Ghoul Interrupted, by Victoria Laurie (Dec. 27, NAL)
M.J. Holliday and her crew interrupt the frantic schedule of their reality TV show, “Ghoul Getters,” and hotfoot it to New Mexico, where a dreadful demon is waging tribal warfare. Whitefeather—M.J.’s spirit guide—urgently needs her help to stop this evil spirit from wiping out the descendants of his tribe. It doesn’t take a psychic to predict that M.J.’s going to have a devil of a time making New Mexico a demon-free zone. Sixth in the Ghost Hunter Mystery series.
The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine, by Peter Straub (Dec. 31, Subterranean)
Meet Ballard and Sandrine, the eponymous protagonists of Peter Straub’s new novella. The two are lovers, widely separated in age but bound by a common erotic obsession. Their story, which takes place over a period of twenty-five years, is set primarily within the various incarnations of a mysterious yacht making its endless way down the Amazon River.
Author Suzanne Johnson is a book geek with a fondness for a good dystopia. Her new urban fantasy series, scheduled to begin with the release of Royal Street in April 2012 by Tor Books, is set in New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina. Find Suzanne on Twitter.