The Best New Fiction of March 2018

This month brings us several poignant family dramas and plenty of neighborhood intrigue, from a wealthy New York City enclave to a scandal-plagued Ohioan suburb. A heart-pounding thriller aboard an airplane; a TV star’s abduction; and three books set in Italy will have you staying up late turning pages and practicing your grazies and pregos! Lastly, a long-awaited second novel from Beasts of No Nation author Uzodinma Iweala promises to leave you gasping.

Accidental Heroes, by Danielle Steel
This thriller set in the not-so-friendly skies finds a Homeland Security agent racing against the clock to prevent tragedy aboard a flight from New York to San Francisco. Assisting him in his tense mission are a group of “everyday people” whose fates have converged. Some of them work for the airport or the airline, and some of them are strangers thrown together from across the country. None of them expected to be heroes. Now boarding: A character study wrapped around an action-packed drama.

Alternate Side, by Anna Quindlen
A bestselling novelist (Miller’s ValleyObject Lessons) and advice-giver (A Short Guide to a Happy LifeBeing Perfect), Quindlen centers her latest novel on an elite neighborhood in Manhattan. Nora and Charlie Nolan, and the rest of their secluded, close-knit community, are thrown into chaos when an act of violence with racial undertones forces them to take stock of who and what they really are.

The Italian Teacher, by Tom Rachman
As with his first, critically lauded book The Imperfectionists, Rachman’s latest takes place in Rome, this time in the 1950s art world. Charles “Pinch” Bavinsky is one of seventeen kids produced by a philandering, impossible-to-pin-down father, Bear Bavinsky, who also happens to be a genius painter. At first, Pinch yearns to follow in his father’s footsteps, or at least become his biographer. Will Pinch’s job as a language instructor in London bring him the fulfillment he hopes for, or will his complicated relationship with his father be the only legacy available to him?

Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions, by Mario Giordano (translated by John Brownjohn)
Determined to spend her twilight years drinking wine and enjoying the beauty of Sicily, 60-year-old Auntie Poldi, a former costume designer with a wide variety of wigs, quickly discovers that a relaxing retirement is not in the cards. Eager to solve the mystery of her handyman’s disappearance, she throws herself into the official search, despite her lack of investigative credentials. It doesn’t hurt that the lead detective, Vito Montana, is dashingly handsome. The first in a decidedly cozy series, Lions is filled with humor, heart, and stunning locales.

The Room on Rue Amelie, by Kristin Harmel
Harmel’s poignant novels always tug at the heartstrings, whether they concern the past (When We Meet Again), the present (The Life Intended), or both (The Sweetness of Forgetting). With Amelie, she whisks readers to occupied Paris in 1939, where three people’s lives converge: an American newlywed unsure if her marriage can last, a Jewish child fearful of deportation, and a British RAF pilot who has lost his mother to the Blitz and now finds himself cut off behind enemy lines.

The Italian Party, by Christina Lynch
A sumptuous, detail-rich debut packed with secrets, it’s part spy novel, part political thriller, part mystery, and part relationship drama. Oh, and there’s satirical humor, too! Party takes place in Siena, Italy, in 1956, where just-married “American innocents,” Scottie and Michael Messina, have arrived for Michael’s job with Ford tractors. There are many problems with this scenario: Scottie is protecting a troubling personal secret, Michael is hiding an explosive professional one; and he also wouldn’t mind being reunited with his former (male) lover while they’re in town. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg…

Speak No Evil, by Uzodinma Iweala
A stunning, powerful follow-up to Iweala’s 2005 debut Beasts of No NationSpeak takes place in an America where immigrants continue to struggle with cultural integration. A Nigerian-American senior in high school living in Washington, DC, Niru has a bright future ahead of him, including a slot at Harvard in the fall. His homosexuality is a secret he must keep from his strict Nigerian parents, whose “cure” for his “corruption” includes physical abuse and a forced visit to Nigeria, a country Niru has never considered home. His white best friend, Meredith, in an attempt to help him, makes the situation exponentially worse. Their two stories will undoubtedly stick with readers for months to come.

I’ll be Your Blue Sky, by Marisa de los Santos
The compelling friendship between Cornelia Brown and her surrogate daughter Clare (first explored in the bestselling, warmhearted Love Walked In and Belong to Me) continues, alternating between the present and the past. Now a grown woman, Clare is engaged to a man whose temperament swings between charming and controlling. When an elderly acquaintance, Edith, helps Clare realize the situation’s inherent danger, Clare gets a new lease on life. The two women’s stories are further connected when Clare inherits Edith’s Delaware beach house, which served as a shelter for abused women in the 1950s.

What You Don’t Know About Charlie Outlaw, by Leah Stewart
Charlie Outlaw, a TV actor overwhelmed by his recent fame, seeks refuge at a secluded island, where he’s kidnapped for ransom. Josie Lamar, the woman who dumped him, struggles with her own life in the spotlight—or, rather, out of it; the superhero she played on a cult TV show twenty years ago remains her defining role, and she’d love to move on with a new character. Despite their break-up, their love story isn’t over by a long shot, and readers will eagerly devour this showbiz-filled adventure.

Not That I Could Tell, by Jessica Strawser
Think Desperate Housewives meets Big Little Lies, with a dash of Where’d You Go, Bernadette thrown in for good measure. A thriller set in small-town Ohio, the mystery kicks off when Kristin, a soon-to-be-divorced mother of twins, disappears. The neighborhood moms can’t fathom what caused her to flee, and their curiosity about their friend’s secret forces them to examine their own home lives in greater detail.

What new fiction are you excited to read in March?

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