USA Today’s Jocelyn McClurg scopes out the hottest books on sale each week:
1. Year One by Nora Roberts (St. Martin’s Press, fiction, on sale Dec. 5)
- What it’s about: Roberts goes dystopian in this first book in a planned trilogy, in which magic (both good and bad) rises up after a devastating plague causes society to collapse.
- The buzz: “Entertaining,” says Publishers Weekly.
2. The Demon Crown by James Rollins (William Morrow, fiction, on sale Dec. 5)
- What it’s about: Sigma Force is back in action after a cache of bones buried during the Civil War era near the Smithsonian is unearthed containing a “terrifying” secret about life after death.
- The buzz: Rollins draws on the history of the Smithsonian Institution as well as real-life skulduggery involving Alexander Graham Bell and the museum for his latest thriller.
3. Spy of the First Person by Sam Shepard (Knopf, fiction, on sale Dec. 5)
- What it’s about: Autobiographical novel by the late playwright and actor is told by an unnamed narrator looking back on his life as he’s treated for an illness that makes him dependent on loved ones
- The buzz: This is being described as the final work from Shepard, who died earlier this year at age 73 from ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
4. Enchantress of Numbers by Jennifer Chiaverini (Dutton, fiction, on sale Dec. 5)
- What it’s about: Historical novel about Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron’s daughter, a 19th-century mathematician considered the world’s “first computer programmer” for her work with Charles Babbage.
- The buzz: An “exquisite biographical novel…a quintessential example of the form,” says Booklist.
5. Alive in Shape and Color, edited by Lawrence Block (Pegasus, fiction, on sale Dec. 5)
- What it’s about: Michael Connelly, Joyce Carol Oates and Lee Child are among the contributors to this collection of 17 stories drawn from the work of artists including Balthus, Dali and Hieronymus Bosch.
- The buzz: This is a follow-up to In Sunlight or In Shadow, the well-received (USA TODAY called it “superb”) 2016 anthology of mystery tales inspired by Edward Hopper’s paintings.