Most Eagerly Awaited Books of 2017 (Pt.1)
I normally produce a list of upcoming books that have caught my attention in January and June. This year's election shenanigans have meant that I'm later than usual with the first such post of 2017, but here it is, better late than never ...
David Weber, Timothy Zahn and Thomas Pope
A Call to Vengeance (Baen, February / March 2017)
The third in Weber's Manticore Ascendant series, set a couple of generations prior to the Honor Harrington novels. The Royal Manticoran Navy stands on the brink of collapse, while the House of Winton is under siege. A great prequel series from the unchallenged master of modern space opera. This one will be going straight to the top of my reading pile when it arrives (on which note, Amazon UK have it listed as a February release in hardback, but Amazon US aren't listing it at all, and Baen's own publishing schedule is surprisingly quiet - makes me wonder if there's been a problem that they're not owning up to just yet?)
Bryant and May: Wild Chamber (Doubleday, March 2017)
London's quirkiest detectives are back, and embroiled in an investigation which will take them through the history of London's parks and gardens - it's wild chambers - as they attempt to head off murder, national scandal, and Arthur's latest hallucinations all rolled into one. Bryant and May are, between them, a guilty pleasure, and one which I take great delight in indulging every year or so. This is their fourteenth outing, so if you haven't caught up with them yet, there are plenty of opportunities out there waiting for you.
William Alan Webb
Standing in the Storm (Dingbat Publishing, April 2017)
William Alan Webb was my undoubted find of 2016. He is the author of the futuristic military thriller series, The Last Brigade, of which Standing in the Storm will be the second volume. Webb's prose is taut, his characters are both believable and relatable, and his plot lines all too plausible as he takes his readers through a breakdown in American civilisation some fifty years into the future. Standing in the Storm promises to take the story of General Nick Angriff and his elite command to new levels, as they emerge from their deep sleep on the outskirts of Prescott, Arizona, to find themselves surrounded by enemies in a world that barely remembers the United States of old. With the Caliphate on one side, elements of the Chinese army on the other, and the threat of spies in their midst, the Seventh Cavalry will roll into battle in a single, death defying roll of the dice that may see them dead and in the ground before their flag has been properly raised.
The Burial Hour (Hodder & Stoughton, April 2017)
The master of suspense returns to one of his favourite characters, Lincoln Rhyme in a thriller which sees crime go global. Rhyme and Sachs lose track of an eight-year-old abduction victim, only to learn of an eerily similar case on the outskirts of Naples, Italy. With little more than their gut instincts to go on, the pair seek the cooperation of their Italian colleagues as they attempt to make up for lost time, and solve two abductions before their time runs out, and the lives of two little girls are lost. Claire in particular always looks forward to the arrival of a new Deaver, but this time around I will be reviewing The Burial Hour for The Big Issue, so we're both going to be taking a special interest in this one when it arrives.
Game Over (Headline, April 2017)
Even after twenty six installments, Bob Skinner hasn't lost his appeal, so the twenty-seventh novel, which sees the retired Chief Constable, now two years out of the game, thrown into the midst of an investigation which pits his old team against his daughter is a must-read for lovers of gritty, Scottish crime novels. Imagine Rebus, crossed with Taggert, and promoted to the command corridor, and you have a pretty good approximation of Bob Skinner, Edinburgh's toughest cop-turned-private-investigator.
Genesis Fleet: Vanguard (Ace, May 2017)
Award winning author Jack Campbell (who broke his teeth on the JAG: Space series back in the nineties), returns to the setting he created for his popular Lost Fleet novels, but goes back in time to recount the founding of the Alliance. When Earth is no longer the centre of the universe, its colonies must come together to defend themselves, or risk being picked off one by one in a war that demands strength before all else. Campbell writes military sci-fi at its best, so a new series from his pen is to be greatly anticipated.
Robert Conroy and J.R. Dunn
The Day After Gettysburg (Baen, June 2017)
Left unfinished at the time of his death, J.R. Dunn steps in to complete one of Robert Conroy's last alternative history novels, asking what might have happened had General Robert E. Lee refused to retreat across the Potomac after the defeat at Gettysburg, but instead went on the offensive, and cut a great swathe across Pennsylvania. Alternate history has pretty much done the War Between the States to death, but it is fitting that Robert Conroy should have returned to the old staple in his final days, and icing on the cake to note that he seems to have found a novel approach which may well deliver new angles and outcomes.
The Witchwood Crown (DAW, June 2017)
Now, twenty-four years after the conclusion of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, Tad Williams returns to his beloved universe and characters with The Witchwood Crown, the first novel in the long-awaited sequel trilogy, The Last King of Osten Ard. More than thirty years have passed since the events of the earlier novels, and the world has reached a critical turning point once again. The realm is threatened by divisive forces, even as old allies are lost, and others are lured down darker paths. Perhaps most terrifying of all, the Norns—the long-vanquished elvish foe—are stirring once again, preparing to reclaim the mortal-ruled lands that once were theirs....
Persephone (Hodder and Stoughton, June 2017)
The date is November 1807, and Captain Sir Thomas Kydd sets sail for Lisbon to aid the Portugese Royal Family's evacuation in the face of Napoleon's ruthless advance through Iberia. The seventeenth volume in a stunning series which sees Kydd rise from pressed man to the Captain's chair (and conceivably beyond), Stockwin brings an almost unrivaled love and knowledge of the sea and of seamanship to his writing, making Persephone, the first of two Kydd novels expected this year, a must-have for readers of the genre. I will be blocking out a couple of days when my hardback copy arrives from the UK.