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Welcome to the ARC Roundup – a feature on Literophilia that I hope to make a weekly event, usually occurring on Friday.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, an ARC (also sometimes referred to an ARE) is an Advanced Reading Copy (or Edition). This means that it’s an unpublished proof of the work that is fairly close to the final draft. They release ARC’s to the public to get feedback on the book and generate a buzz among the industry for the book’s release.

The purpose of the weekly ARC Roundup is to let you guys know just what’s out there this week — what books are available, what they’re about and how to get them. And as a special little bonus, Literophilia’s Picks (while we think all of the books we list sound interesting, these ones strike us the most!) will be highlighted in hot pink so you can’t miss them. 🙂

So, without further ado, here is the very first ARC Roundup for the week of January 9th, 2009. Enjoy!

  • The Kiss Murder by Mehet Morat Somer

“As if being the beautiful, witty, expert kickboxing transvestite hostess of Istanbul’s most notorious nightclub doesn’t make a girl busy enough… Now I have to solve crimes, too.” The first novel in the Turkish Delight mystery series, The Kiss Murder is now available in paperback from The Penguin Group. On Sale: 12.30.08.

From Publishers Weekly:
Istanbul provides an intriguing backdrop for Somer’s highly entertaining and occasionally over-the-top tale, the first in a six-volume series to be made available in the U.S., in which a nameless transvestite nightclub owner turns detective after the murder of one of the clubs drag queens, a crime linked to a blackmail scheme involving letters and photos received from a powerful and conservative businessman. While the clubs performers fear their secret lives being made public and are outcasts to their families, the protagonist, who by night dresses like that boyish beauty Audrey Hepburn, fears no one. When the blackmailers target the nightclub owner, she turns for help to contacts in the gay and transvestite community, plus a gossipy bouncer and an adoring cab driver who fancies himself the Istanbul version of Brad Pitt. Melding broad humor with a sensitive look at gay life in Turkey, Somer has fashioned a complex protagonist who’s likable, intelligent, arrogant and, above all, a survivor.

To request a copy: Email promotions@us.penguingroup.com with the subject “The Kiss Murder” – and be sure to include your name and shipping address!

  • The Angel Maker by Stefan Brijs

“‘He grew up in an asylum.’

‘His mother died of insanity.’

‘His father… you know… from the tree next to his house.’

‘He can perform miracles.’

The Word is out: The good doctor of Wolfheim isn’t quite what he seems. The chilling story that explores the ethical reaches of science and religion.” On Sale: 12.30.08.

From Amazon.com:A literary page-turner about one man’s macabre ambition to create life—and secure immortality.

The village of Wolfheim is a quiet little place until the geneticist Dr. Victor Hoppe returns after an absence of nearly twenty years. The doctor brings with him his infant children—three identical boys all sharing a disturbing disfigurement. He keeps them hidden away until Charlotte, the woman who is hired to care for them, begins to suspect that the triplets—and the good doctor— aren’t quite what they seem. As the villagers become increasingly suspicious, the story of Dr. Hoppe’s past begins to unfold, and the shocking secrets that he has been keeping are revealed. A chilling story that explores the ethical limits of science and religion, The Angel Maker is a haunting tale in the tradition of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Frankenstein. Brought to life by internationally bestselling author Stefan Brijs, this eerie tale promises to get under readers’ skin.”

To Request A Copy: Email promotions@us.penguingroup.com with the subject “The Angel Maker” – and be sure to include your name and shipping address!

  • The Gardner Heist: The True Story of the World’s Largest Unsolved Art Theft by Ulrich Boser

“The story of the 1990 Gardner Museum robbery, the largest unsolved art theft in history.” On Sale: 2.24.2009.

From Amazon.com:

One museum, two thieves, and the Boston underworld—the story behind the lost Gardner masterpieces and the art detective who swore to get them back.

Shortly after midnight on March 18, 1990, two men broke into the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and committed the largest art heist in history. They stole a dozen masterpieces, including one Vermeer, three Rembrandts, and five Degas. But after thousands of leads, hundreds of interviews, and a $5-million reward, not a single painting has been recovered. Worth a total of $500 million, the missing masterpieces have become the Holy Grail of the art world and one of the nation’s most extraordinary unsolved mysteries.

Art detective Harold Smith worked on the theft for years, and after his death, reporter Ulrich Boser inherited his case files. Traveling deep into the art underworld, Boser explores Smith’s unfinished leads and comes across a remarkable cast of characters, including the brilliant rock ‘n’ roll art thief; the golden-boy gangster who professes his innocence in rhyming verse; the deadly mobster James “Whitey” Bulger; and the Boston heiress Isabella Stewart Gardner, who stipulated in her will that nothing should ever be changed in her museum, a provision followed so closely that the empty frames of the stolen works still hang on the walls. Boser eventually cracks one of the biggest mysteries of the case and uncovers the identities of the men who robbed the museum nearly two decades ago. A tale of art and greed, of obsession and loss, The Gardner Heist is as compelling as the stolen masterpieces themselves.”

To Request A Copy: Check out the book’s page on the Harper-Collins website and sign up through the First Look program sign-up page.

  • The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte by Syrie James

“I often believe there are two types of readers: Austen girls and Bronte girls. This is for all you Bronte girls out there!

Syrie James, author of the bestselling The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen has created a new novel as powerful and as creative as Jane. Here, we learn of the passionate and uniquiet soul of Charlotte Bronte.” On Sale 6.30.09.

From Harper-Collins:Poor, plain and unconnected, Charlotte and her sisters live in the wilds of Yorkshire. Their eccentric father allows no curtains on the windows and no rugs on the floors. Their brother is a drunkard and a drug addict. But these three sisters write some of the most beloved books ever created.

Many don’t know that Charlotte’s life held hidden passions. And while many remember her novel Jane Eyre, few know about her romance with Arthur Bell Nichols. After her death, he destroyed so much of the personal writing of her adulthood, but now, through The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte, Charlotte’s secrets are about to be told.”

To Request A Copy: Check out the book’s page on the Harper-Collins website and sign up through the First Look program sign-up page.