A Shiver of Light, by Laurell K. Hamilton, is the long-awaited (five years!) new installment in her Merry Gentry series, about a former faerie princess who has given up court life to be a private investigator. Just in case Hamilton makes us wait another half-decade for the next book, here’s a safe bet to fill the gap: Seanan Maguire’s October Daye series, starting with Rosemary and Rue. The titular heroine is half-fae, and spent her childhood in the world of faeries before running away to San Francisco to set up shop as a P.I. The books offer a perfect blend of sleuthing, otherworldly action, and romance, and the best part is, seven have already been published (number eight, The Winter Long, hits in September).
The most surprising thing about the revelation that J.K. Rowling was the writer behind the Robert Galbraith pseudonym was just how good the famed children’s scribe is at crafting a satisfying detective novel in the best Agatha Christie mold. With a P.I. hero for the ages—glum, one-legged war veteran Cormoran Strike (the kind of name that should have been a dead giveaway as to its creator’s true identity)—The Cuckoo’s Calling more than lives up to the hype. If you’re looking for another unforgettable detective, I’d like to introduce you to Jackson Brodie, a war vet with a tragic past and a true heart, created by another genre-jumping British novelist, Kate Atkinson (Life After Life). Though the four books to date can be read in any order, you’ll probably want to start with the complex, time-twisting Case Histories.
The One & Only, by Emily Griffin, is the story of Shae Rigsby, who has spent her entire life in a tiny Texas town (you know the kind, where the most important thing happening on any given Friday night is a high school football game). A sudden tragedy causes her to reevaluate her choices, and to consider whether she’s really living the life she desires. In creating a troubled, affecting heroine and a memorable portrait of small-town life, the book recalls Where the Heart Is, by Billie Letts, about a wayward teenager who gets pregnant too early, winds up giving birth while locked in a Walmart overnight, and decides then and there that her daughter is going to have a better life than she did.
Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer, tells the unforgettable, ultimately tragic tale of Christopher McCandless, a disenchanted young man who chose to leave the modern world behind and reconnect with the ferocity and beauty of nature. That his spiritual journey ended all too abruptly has come to define his life, but there’s something undeniably brave about what he tried to do. For a similar, far less grim story, read Wild, a memoir by Cheryl Strayed, who decided that the best way to escape from the demons that were plaguing her (including a troubled marriage and a heroin addiction) was to set off on a 1,300-mile journey on the Pacific Coast Wilderness Trail.