The Devil’s Company, by David Liss (Random House, $25, amazon.com)
In my youth I suffered from too close a proximity to gaming tables of all descriptions, and I watched in horror as Lady Fortune delivered money, sometimes not precisely my own, into another’s hands. As a man of more seasoned years, one poised to enter his third decade of life, I knew far better than to let myself loose among such dangerous tools as dice and cards, engines of mischief good for nothing but giving a man false hope before dashing his dreams. However, I found it no difficult thing to make an exception on those rare occasions when it was another man’s silver that filled my purse. And if that other man had engaged in machination that would guarantee that the dice should roll or the cards turn in my favor, so much the better. Those of overly scrupulous morals might suggest that to alter the odds in one’s favor so illicitly is the lowest depth to which a soul can sink. Better a sneak thief, a murderer, even a traitor to his country, these men will argue, than a cheat at the gaming table. Perhaps it is so, but I was a cheat in the service of a generous patron, and that, to my mind, quieted the echoes of doubt.
Excerpted from The Devil’s Company, by David Liss, Copyright © 2009 by David Liss. Excerpted by permission of Random House Group, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Beverly Hills Adjacent, by Jennifer Steinhauer and Jessica Hendra (St. Martin’s Press, $25, amazon.com)
The trouble with starring in a network television show about a bipolar dentist who is looking for love on the Internet is that no matter how deft the flossing puns, or how diverting the high jinks with your Puerto Rican hygienist, it all comes down to the time slot. For Mitch Gold, this was the unpleasant axis upon which his world spun.
“Mitch Gold, please.”
“This is Mitch.”
“Hello, Fiona from Creative Artists here. Can you hold for Tim Zelnick?”
“Hi, Mitch, it’s Tim, and Angie Varone is on the line too. How’s our favorite bipolar dentist?”
“Hi, guys! So how did Molar Opposites do last night?”
“Well,” Tim answered, “it came in fourth.”
Mitch stared out the window and noticed the parched garden. “Fourth? Yikes.”
“Hey,” Tim said, “what do you want? You’re up against American Idol. But I talked to ABC. They’re still very committed. They’re gonna run a bunch of promos during Brothers & Sisters and see if they can bring in more women. They want it to do a little better every week.”
Mitch took a breath. “What were the numbers?”
Excerpted from Beverly Hills Adjacent, by Jennifer Steinhauer and Jessica Hendra. Copyright © 2009 by Jennifer Steinhauer and Jessica Hendra. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin’s Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
The Late, Lamented Molly Marx, by Sally Koslow (Ballantine, $25, amazon.com)
Kill Me Now
When I imagined my funeral, this wasn’t what I had in mind. First of all, I hoped I would be old, a stately ninetysomething who’d earned the right to be called elegant; a woman with an intimate circle of loved ones fanned out in front of her, their tender sorrow connecting them like lace.
I definitely hoped to be in a far more beautiful place―a stone chapel by the sea, perhaps, with pounding purple-gray waves drowning out mourners’ sobs. For no apparent reason―I’m not even Scottish―there would be wailing bagpipes, men in Campbell tartan, and charmingly reserved grandchildren, or even great-grandchildren, coaxed into reciting their own sweet poetry. I don’t know where the children’s red curls come from, since my hair is chemically enhanced blond and straight as a ruler. The bereaved―incredibly, those weepy old souls are my own kids―dab away tears with linen handkerchiefs, though on every other occasion they have used only tissues. The service takes place shortly before sunset in air fragrant with lilacs. Spring. At least where I grew up, in the Chicago suburbs, that’s what lilacs signify: the end of a long winter, life beginning anew.
Excerpted from The Late, Lamented Molly Marx, by Sally Koslow. Copyright © 2009 by Sally Koslow. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Guts, by Robert Nylen (Random House, $25, amazon.com)
A warm day in late December 2007 proved me nuts, and an idiot, again. I was in a hurry. Had to drive 190 miles south from our western Massachusetts home to take a meeting in Manhattan and then go to a party. Hastily, I gassed my car at Neighbors convenience store. As I sped away, a pretty girl at the next pump was trying to tell me something…important. She waved frantically, signaling me to stop. Too late! My lurch separated the gas line from the pump, the nozzle still lodged in my tank.
Gasoline spewed sideways. My sweet Samaritan retrieved her barefoot toddler and ran away to avoid being blown up. Mortified, I tried to reconnect the line to the pump. It was like trying to cap Old Faithful with a saucer. Gas soaked me, making me a potential torch. One spark and I’d be a one-man Hindenburg. I raced inside to rinse my stinging eyes with tap water. Blearily, I watched volunteer firemen assess the risk.
Excerpted from Guts, by Robert Nylen Copyright © 2009 by Robert Nylen. Excerpted by permission of Random House Group, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.