As always: so many good books to choose from in the coming months! Where to begin? Focusing on the new releases from now through mid-March, we’ve selected a few that we’ve already read and consider exceptionally good, as well as those getting lots of buzz in the publishing world and/or those from popular authors — plus a handful of upcoming books that simply sound intriguing. We hope this helps you start building your list of must-reads for 2023.
Publishers Weekly describes Age of Vice by Deepti Kapoor as “Succession meets The Godfather but set in India” — a pithy if insufficient summary of my favorite book of 2023 so far (I’ve read a stack of early galleys). It’s a complex saga that begins with a tragic traffic accident in New Delhi, then shifts back in time to detail how the lives of the three main characters become entangled. There’s reporter Neda (Kapoor also worked as a New Delhi journalist); wealthy, tortured Sunny, heir to his father’s corrupt business empire; and Ajay, Sunny’s quiet, exceptional servant. Exploring issues of class, power and morality, this action-packed page-turner should be one of the first breakout hits of 2023 (Jan. 3).
The release of Victory City by Salman Rushdie is sure to make headlines, coming so soon after he survived an August stabbing at an event in New York. It’s a sci-fi fantasy, written like an ancient epic, about a young girl in 14th-century India who becomes a vessel for a goddess, and sets out to build a magic empire (Feb. 7).
James Rollins, known for his Sigma Force thrillers, had a huge hit with his 2021 action-packed fantasy The Starless Crown. His second book in what he’s calling the Moonfall series, The Cradle of Ice, brings back the motley crew of main characters, who are targeted by enemies in a forbidding, icy world with the threat of apocalypse looming (Feb. 7).
The House of Eve by Sadeqa Johnson, the author of 2021’s The Yellow Wife, focuses on the challenges of two young Black women in the 1950s, including Eleanor, who falls in love with a wealthy Howard University student and struggles to be accepted into his elite world (Feb. 7).
In Code Name Sapphire by Pam Jenoff, a woman flees Nazi Germany and joins the resistance, then learns that her cousin’s family is on a train bound for Auschwitz. Can she help them? Jenoff is a best-selling author of historical novels such as The Lost Girls of Paris and The Orphan’s Tale (Feb. 7).
A Most Intriguing Lady by Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, is a smart romance about Mary Montagu Douglas Scott, a duke’s rebellious daughter, that’s rich with Victorian-era historical detail. The author, who wrote this with historical-romance writer Marguerite Kaye, knows a little something about English high society: Mary’s parents, Walter, the fifth duke of Buccleuch, and his wife, Charlotte, share the names of and are based on the duchess’s own great-great-great grandparents. She and Kaye had another entertaining novel in 2021, Her Heart for a Compass, which was centered on Mary’s flame-haired older sister, Margaret (March 7).
Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano, author of the 2020 bestseller Dear Edward, is an absorbing story featuring two young people, Julia and William, who fall in love. Julia and her family embrace William, but then find themselves having to contend with some disturbing realities from his past (March 14).
Other novels of note include:
Decent People by De’Shawn Charles Winslow (Jan. 17): A small, segregated North Carolina town is turned upside down after the murder of three siblings. Winslow wrote the well-reviewed 2019 novel In West Mills.
River Sing Me Home by Eleanor Shearer (Jan. 31): In this debut novel a mother sets off on a quest across the Caribbean to find her stolen children after slavery’s end.
The Queen of Dirt Island by Donal Ryan (Feb. 28): a literary tale that follows four generations of women in a rural Irish family. It’s getting rave early reviews.
Stars in an Italian Sky by Jill Santopolo (Feb. 28): a love story set in 1940s Genoa, Italy, between the son of a count and the daughter of a tailor, by the author of the 2017 bestseller The Light We Lost, among others.
Old Babes in the Woods by Margaret Atwood (March 7): a collection of 15 short stories from The Handmaid’s Tale author, seven of which focus on a married couple and their lives together through the decades.
Now You See Us by Balli Kaur Jaswal (March 7): the story of three women who work in the home of wealthy Singaporeans, by the author of the 2017 hit Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows.
There’s been loud buzz in the biz about All the Dangerous Things by Stacy Willingham, about a woman whose son disappears in the night and who, because she’s a sleepwalker, starts to wonder about her own involvement (Jan. 10), as well as City Under One Roof by Iris Yamashita, set in a remote Alaska town centered around an isolated apartment building. After a body washes up on the icy shores an Anchorage detective comes to town to search for answers and finds herself with plenty of colorful characters to consider as potential suspects (Jan. 10).
Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson is an imaginative fourth-wall-breaking story featuring a mystery writer whose family is, yes, full of murderers (Jan. 17).
Other biggies in the bone-chilling genre include Every Man a King by Walter Mosley, a sequel to 2018’s Down the River Unto the Sea from the award-winning author known for his Easy Rawlins mystery series. This tale again features unflappable investigator Joe King Oliver, who accepts a dangerous assignment to determine the guilt of a white nationalist jailed for murder. King looks for answers from the alleged perpetrator’s friends and enemies, all with an ax to grind (Feb. 21).
Don’t miss these two: 48 Clues Into the Disappearance of My Sister by Joyce Carol Oates, who offers a seriously unreliable narrator in a gripping story that’s told through the eyes of a troubled woman named Gigi, whose beautiful younger sister, Marguerite, has gone missing and is presumed dead. We learn more about Gigi’s disturbed mind as she unspools clues to her sister’s fate. I couldn't put it down (March 14). And I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai is an entertaining whodunnit set on the campus of a New England boarding school. Bodie Kane, a 40-something alumna and podcaster who’s there teaching a winter-break class, gets caught up in reinvestigating the long-ago murder of a classmate when she realizes the wrong person may be in prison for the crime (Feb. 21).
I Will Find You by Harlan Coben is a classic Coben novel (fast-paced and twisty). It features David Burroughs, a broken man serving a life sentence for the murder of his son — which he vehemently denies. When he finds out the boy may be alive, it sounds impossible, but he plots a daring escape from prison to find the truth (March 14)
Also keep an eye out for:
Sleep No More by Jayne Ann Krentz (Jan. 3): Kicking off a new suspense series, the Lost Night Files trilogy, this is the story of three women who unite to solve cold cases after surviving an earthquake (of which they have no memory).
Exiles by Jane Harper (Jan. 31): The Australian author of The Dry, among other captivating mysteries, brings us another tale set in rural Australia, where investigator Aaron Falk seeks answers in the disappearance of a young mother.
Don’t Fear the Reaper by Stephen Graham Jones (Feb. 7): Book 2 in Jones’ Indian Lake trilogy, following 2021’s My Heart Is a Chainsaw, brings back the revenge-seeking serial killer Dark Mill South.