A boy who survived a haunted hotel grows up. A Mississippi attorney faces another racially charged court case. And a once lovelorn woman has a new crush.
All of these characters are older, and presumably wiser, as this fall's books include several major sequels that have been a long time coming: Stephen King offers "Doctor Sleep" 36 years after his famous "The Shining." John Grisham revisits Clanton, Miss., in "Sycamore Row," a follow-up to 1989's "A Time to Kill."
And Helen Fielding finds "Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy" 15 years after her famous diary and more than a decade after she teetered on the "edge of reason."
In addition, Margaret Atwood fans will grab the third book in her speculative trilogy with "MaddAddam," Amy Tan returns to fiction and Shanghai in "The Valley of Amazement" and Thomas Pynchon goes back to 2001 New York with "Bleeding Edge."
Readers won't have any trouble finding big books from big names this fall, particularly on the fiction front (we'll get to Wally Lamb, Jonathan Lethem, Daniel Woodrell, Kathryn Davis and more shortly).
First, let's mention that elephant-size conspiracy in the corner: Nonfiction authors will be revisiting the past, too, with the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Among a couple dozen authors marking the Dallas tragedy is respected presidential biographer Robert Dallek, who in "Camelot's Court" looks at Kennedy's own "team of rivals."
A doctor who was in the hospital when Kennedy was shot collects physicians' memories in "We Were There."
Another man who was there, former Secret Service agent Clint Hill, joins Lisa McCubbin for "Five Days in November."
Other remembrances are compiled by Life ("The Day Kennedy Died") and Dean Owen ("November 22, 1963," with a foreword by Helen Thomas) and at least one book focuses on providing a portrait of the setting, "Dallas 1963" by Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis. Ira Stoll makes a case for "JFK, Conservative."
Of course, the crowd claiming to divulge secrets weighs in, including former New York Times reporter Philip Shenon, who says he's found new FBI information in "A Cruel and Shocking Act."
Some of the others: "The Hidden History of the JFK Assassination" by Lamar Waldron; "CIA Rogues and the Killing of the Kennedys" by Patrick Nolan; and "The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ" by Roger Stone.
More history will be coming, too, from Doris Kearns Goodwin, who looks at Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft in "The Bully Pulpit."
Bill Bryson's "One Summer, America 1927," recounts Charles Lindbergh's famous flight along with various other spectacles, such as Babe Ruth's 60 home runs.
Meanwhile, novelist Fannie Hurst is one of the women profiled in "Miss Anne in Harlem: The White Women of the Black Renaissance" by Carla Kaplan.
Nonfiction authors aren't just looking at the past, of course. Contemporary society can't escape history when Malcolm Gladwell explains the world, as he does with "David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants." Mark Halperin and John Heilemann revisit last year's presidential campaign with "Double Down" and Debora L. Spar says women are stressing themselves out by trying to having it all in "Wonder Woman: Sex, Power and the Quest for Perfection." Diane Ravitch exposes the weaknesses of charter schools in "Reign of Error" and Eric Schlosser, who once damned our fast food nation, finds another deadly topic.
He details the dangers of nuclear weapons -- even if they aren't launched -- in "Command and Control."
Also look for "Floating City: A Rogue Sociologist Lost and Found in New York's Underground Economy" by Sudhir Venkatesh; "The American Way of Poverty" by Sasha Abramsky; and "Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us" by Jesse Bering.
Popular fiction no doubt will provide some relief from true-life poverty and pervs. But best-selling novels usually do offer a suspicious death or two. That includes Sue Grafton, who will be only three letters from the end of the alphabet after she releases "W Is for Wasted," her 23rd Kinsey Millhone mystery. Not far behind Grafton are Janet Evanovich's "Takedown Twenty"; Patricia Cornwell's "Dust," her 21st Kay Scarpetta novel; and Sara Paretsky's 16th novel featuring V.I. Warshawski, "Critical Mass."
Another big suspense title is "Never Go Back" by Lee Child, who sends hero Jack Reacher on his 18th adventure. More books with male sleuths include Michael Connelly's "The Gods of Guilt," John Stanford's "Storm Front," Martin Cruz Smith's "Tatiana" and Jo Nesbø's "Police."
For those interested in less-familiar land, "Alex" by Pierre Lemaitre, translated from the French, is a possibility, says Publishers Weekly magazine, which also points to Paula Daly's first novel, "Just What Kind of Mother Are You?" Like Daly, Carla Norton also focuses on kidnapped girls in her first novel, "The Edge of Normal."
My family and me
Memoirs and biographies, of course, look at the past and so will volume 2 of "Autobiography of Mark Twain," which includes many family remembrances, such as the time the family's cool-headed German nurse saved 7-year-old Clara when her bed caught fire.
Modern writers also remember their parents and siblings. "The Death of Santini" by Pat Conroy may appeal to those who recall his 1976 novel "The Great Santini," in which the narrator said he "hated his father." Delia Ephron, whose sister, Nora, died last year, offers her own memoir with "Sister Husband Mother Dog: Etc." (A collection, "The Most of Nora Ephron," will be another way to honor the writer.) Pass Christian's Jesmyn Ward, the young author who won a National Book Award for "Salvage the Bones," has had more than her share of deaths. Her 19-year-old brother was killed by a drunken driver, and in "Men We Reaped," she writes about him and four black male friends who died young.
On the biography front, we'll soon know any new secrets uncovered by David Shields and Shane Salerno about the author of "The Catcher in the Rye." "Salinger" goes on sale Sept. 3. A. Scott Berg examines a president in "Wilson," and Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard continue their best-selling series of famous deaths with a big one, "Killing Jesus."
Although well-known authors and series almost always get more sales, admired novels by literary writers usually get more love from critics. This fall, that includes Daniel Woodrell, Richard Burgin and Kathryn Davis. In "Duplex," the always inventive Davis offers an interplay of realism and science fiction. Set in the future and alluding to a tragic past, the "duplex" offers ways to travel space and time.
Burgin's 16th book, "Hide Island," will be his eighth collection of short stories. Writer Joyce Carol Oates once wrote that "what Edgar Allan Poe did for the psychotic soul, Richard Burgin does for the deeply neurotic who pass among us disguised as so seemingly 'normal' we may mistake them for ourselves."
Woodrell's first novel since 2006's "Winter's Bone" is, like that acclaimed story, set in the deep Ozarks. "The Maid's Version" is slimmer, though, and inspired by a true event involving a dance hall explosion in West Plains, Mo. The illiterate maid of Woodrell's novel has her own ideas about what caused the "West Table" tragedy, which takes her sister and 41 others in 1929. A Publishers Weekly editor calls "The Maid's Version" an "under-the-radar" pick that is "entirely original, brutal, and darkly elegant."
Jonathan Lethem, known for "Motherless Brooklyn" and other stories about that borough, this time infiltrates Queens for "Dissident Gardens," which follows three generations of rabble-rousers.
At least two Pulitzer Prize-winning fiction writers have new novels: Jhumpa Lahiri ("Interpreter of Maladies") has another Indian-American family story with "The Lowland" while Paul Harding, who won in 2010 for "Tinkers," follows that novel with "Enon," which involves the grandson of the dying man in the earlier book. Another "quiet" novel will be "Someone" by the admired Alice McDermott. Her someone is a shy girl with thick glasses who grows up to be a fairly ordinary woman. Somehow, though, McDermott always makes her someones remarkable.
During a fall with almost too many major authors offering new books, here's more to consider: J.M. Coetzee ("The Childhood of Jesus"); Jayne Anne Phillips ("Quiet Dell"); Bob Shacochis ("The Woman Who Lost Her Soul"); Elizabeth Gilbert ("The Signature of All Things"); Margaret Drabble ("The Pure Gold Baby"); Terry McMillan ("Who Asked You?"); Fannie Flagg ("The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion"); Tom Perrotta ("Nine Inches: Stories"); Dave Eggers ("The Circle"); Joanna Trollope ("Sense & Sensibility") and, yet another sequel, Robert Coover's "The Brunist Day of Wrath," which comes a mere 47 years after his first novel, "The Origins of the Brunists."