Are you feeling stuck in a literary rut? Dr. John has the cure!

OK, I confess. I am not an actual doctor, but I do have a tempting selection of notable debut novels that just hit the bookstore shelves. If you're looking for something new, read one of these and call me in the morning...


Like a Fly on the Wall by Simone Kelly

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In this suspenseful tale, a chance meeting leads to possible romance and uncovered secrets. Jacques Berradi is a Moroccan-born psychic living in Miami. Ever since he was young, his abilities have allowed him to communicate with spirits and sometimes see a person's future. He's turned that ability into a career, working as an "intuitive counselor" for clients seeking his insight and paying handsomely for it. Meanwhile, Kylie Collins, a fresh-out-of-work twentysomething, lands a job as an apprentice private eye at the Like a Fly on the Wall Detective Agency. When Jacques and Kylie meet, they each use their unique skills to unravel the mysteries of one another's pasts – about the mysterious death of Jacques' father when Jacques was just a boy and about the identity of Kylie's father.


SF_punchescrowThe Punch Escrow by Tal M. Klein

Welcome to the glorious future of 2147, where advances in science have solved lots of problems.  Aging, for example, has been halted thanks to the latest nanotechnology. Travel is also easier, thanks to the invention of teleportation. It's become the preferred mode of transportation if you can ignore the religious faction trying to take it away. But if you want to use it, you'll have to go through International Transport, the world's most powerful corporation. That's what Joel Byram did. Joel spends his days teaching artificial intelligences to be more human and his nights trying to mend his broken marriage. Except, Joel was accidentally duplicated when he was transported. Now two Joels are running around trying to avoid the shadowy organization out to fix the company's mistake.


Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed

Newcomer Jennie Melamed serves up a harrowing premise with Gather the Daughters. It revolves around an island colonized by ten men and their families, shortly before the country was rendered a wasteland. Their designed-from-scratch society is based on ancestor worship, the strict rationing of knowledge and history, and controlled breeding. Only the so-called Wanderers – male descendants of the original ten – may cross the waters to the ruinous landscape to salvage what they can. The daughters of these men are wives-in-training, their sole purpose is to marry and breed. Seventeen-year-old Janey Solomon is unwilling to become the kind of woman her society is demanding her to be and, worse for those in control, she seeks the truth about what's going on in the world.


SF_strangepracticeStrange Practice by Vivian Shaw

In this supernatural outing, the undead – vampires, mummies, banshees and the like – roam the streets of London. They're mostly harmless, keeping to themselves, staying out of the public eye. When they have medical problems, Dr. Greta Helsing is there to help them. Greta inherited a very specialized medical practice from her father and she knows how to solve the undead's particular kinds of ailments. It's a fairly quiet life until a band of murderous monks begin terrorizing London, targeting both the living and the undead. When Greta is attacked by one of them, it's time for her to stand up and fight for her life.


An Oath of Dogs by Wendy Wagner

Kate Standish has been sent by her employer, Songheuser, to Canaan Lake, a company-owned frontier town on the heavily forested moon of Huginn. Her assignment is to expand the reach of the communications there. The good news is that within a week of being there, she's promoted. The bad news is that it's because her boss has been killed. The company is saying it's an accident, but Kate knows something is amiss. In the one hundred years since the moon's settlement, the continuous pillaging of the world's forests has driven the otherwise docile sentient dogs to violence. The mill workers are more worried about the dogs and the eco-terrorists than they are about a suspicious death that points to the company hands that feed them. But when Kate investigates and discovers a dark secret, the truth becomes impossible to ignore. That's when the real danger begins. 


Uncle Brucker the Rat Killer by Leslie Peter Wulff

In this most unusual debut, the end of the world may not be coming from aliens or from humankind itself, but rather from – wait for it – rodents from another dimension. Walt is a teenager who runs away from his broken home to live with his eccentric uncle. His uncle's eccentricities may have a valid foundation: Uncle Brucker is a Rat Killer, an expert in tracking, communicating with, and killing rats. It turns out that rats once ruled the world before people came along, and we are still at war with them. Uncle Brucker is a legit war veteran, a survivor of the conflict that mostly drove rats from the Earth and into another dimension, where they have since been planning to retake the planet. Walt learns the way of rat killing from his uncle right up until the government assigns Brucker to undertake a dangerous mission involving the rodent threat. When he doesn't return, Walt uses his newly gained skills to find the portal to the rat dimension and find his uncle.

John DeNardo is the founding editor of SF Signal, a Hugo Award-winning science fiction and fantasy blog featuring news, reviews and interviews. You can follow him on Twitter as @sfsignal