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8 Series That Will Get You Hooked

Plotting has never been Mosley’s strong point, but McGill, a red-diaper baby, ex-boxer and a man eternally at war with...


The creator of Easy Rawlins, Socrates Fortlow and Fearless Jones introduces a new detective struggling to live down his checkered past in present-day New York.

Leonid McGill has never killed anyone maliciously, but he’s done plenty of other bad things. Still working as a private eye in his 50s, he’s decided to expiate his sins by going “from crooked to only slightly bent.” So he’s not eager to help Albany shamus Ambrose Thurman track down four men for vague and unpersuasive reasons, especially after he learns that one is dead, a second is in prison and a third is in a holding cell. Who pays $10,000 to locate men like these unless some further crime is involved? McGill isn’t any happier about finding a union accountant for midlevel mobster Tony “The Suit” Towers. And he’s deeply troubled when his computer spying in his own home tells him that Twill, his wife Katrina’s 16-year-old son, plans to kill the father of a girl who’s been sending him distraught e-mails. But the PI’s heart drops to his shoes when he realizes that someone is executing the men he’s been hired to locate for Thurman.

Plotting has never been Mosley’s strong point, but McGill, a red-diaper baby, ex-boxer and a man eternally at war with himself, may be his most compelling hero yet.

Pub Date: March 24, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-59448-858-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2009

Warm, strong, vernacular, dynamic—a must.

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From the Shadowshaper Cypher series , Vol. 1

When walking corpses—and worse—show up in the city, a teen discovers family secrets and ancestral powers.

Sierra’s summer plan is to paint an enormous mural on an abandoned, unfinished five-story building. On an older mural nearby, unnervingly, a painted face changes expression and weeps a tear that glistens and drops. Grandpa Lázaro, mostly speechless from a stroke, grasps a lucid moment to warn Sierra, “They are coming for us….the shadowshapers.” Abuelo can’t or won’t explain further, and Sierra has no idea what shadowshapers are. Her regular world explodes into a “mystical Brooklyn labyrinth” shimmering with beauty but deadly dangerous. Walking corpses with icy grips and foul smells chase her, and a throng haint—a shadowy phantom with mouths all over—almost kills her. In Bed-Stuy, Prospect Park, and Coney Island in the middle of the night, Sierra fights to stay alive and to decipher her role in this chaos. This story about ancestors, ghosts, power, and community has art and music at its core; Sierra’s drawing and painting turn out to be tools for spirit work. Sierra’s Puerto Rican with African and Taíno ancestors; her community is black and brown, young and old, Latin and Caribbean and American. Sometimes funny and sometimes striking, Older’s comfortable prose seamlessly blends English and Spanish.

Warm, strong, vernacular, dynamic—a must. (Urban fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 30, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-59161-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

Thoughtfully and poignantly wonders if, or hopes that, you can go home again, depending on what you define as home.


From the Wayward Children series , Vol. 1

The first in a novella series best characterized as post-portal fantasy: What happens after the rabbit hole spits you back out?

One day, Nancy found a door in her basement that led to a pomegranate grove. Following that path, she spent years in blissful quiet and perfect stillness in the Halls of the Dead, serving its Lord and Lady. But now she’s back in our world, and her distressed parents don’t know how to cope with a daughter who refuses to admit where she really went, only dresses in drab colors, and refuses to date boys. Fortunately, Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children exists for boys and girls like Nancy; it’s a place where stories like hers are believed and young people learn how to cope with their feelings of loss, even as they all desperately search for a way back to that other place. Nancy is a bit overwhelmed by her fellow students, returnees from nonsensical lands constructed of sugar, rule-based fairylands, gothic moorlands inhabited by vampires and mad scientists, and sky-based societies where everyone runs on rainbows. Her sense of disorientation only increases when someone starts brutally murdering the students and staff at the school, and Nancy’s experiences with the dead make her a suspect. McGuire (Chaos Choreography, 2016, etc.) provides answers, or at least valid-seeming speculations, for anyone who’s ever wondered how Susan really felt after she was barred from Narnia and if Alice managed to become a proper Victorian young lady after her return from Wonderland. McGuire understands and has true compassion (never pity) for outcasts and outliers while also making it clear that being a misfit doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily get along with all the other misfits, who don’t fit for different reasons. Her depiction of teen interactions is believably prickly.

Thoughtfully and poignantly wonders if, or hopes that, you can go home again, depending on what you define as home.

Pub Date: April 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7653-8550-5

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

Shupe continues to raise the bar for Gilded Age romance with the first book in a promising new series.


From the The Four Hundred series , Vol. 1

A lady hunting for scandal finds a fin de siècle fairy tale instead.

Lady Honora Parker behaved so badly with a starving artist named Robert Landon that her family has banished her from London all the way to New York City, where she can be matched with a suitable “American man.” Nora decides to create an even bigger scandal by becoming temporarily engaged to the most unsuitable man in the city: new-money financier Julius Hatcher. She proposes the ruse after finding him soused at a dinner on the second floor of one of the city’s finest restaurants, and he’s delighted to be part of this new caper in order to finally be welcome in high society. While they wait for the news to get back to London and upset her father, thus freeing Nora to marry Robert, they’re obligated to act as an affianced couple—which uncovers a powerful attraction between them. Shupe (Tycoon, 2016, etc.) returns to the Gilded Age with the Four Hundred Series, using two outsiders to introduce readers to the opulent world of Mrs. Caroline Astor’s Four Hundred, the New York aristocrats who looked down on upstarts like Julius. She uses clever historical detail to bring to life both the ballrooms and the trading floor of New York City in 1890, and Regency readers will appreciate Nora’s observations of how her new world is very different from London society but also very similar. As she searches for a proper scandal, Julius’ respect for Nora’s reputation and intelligence makes the scenes where they give in to their attraction all the sweeter. Shupe builds tension beautifully, and readers will be pleased to finally come to the opulent wedding at the end.

Shupe continues to raise the bar for Gilded Age romance with the first book in a promising new series.

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-267889-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

A good story, and gorgeous writing.


From the Quirke series , Vol. 1

A boozy, bitter pathologist becomes a most unwilling detective when he uncovers a baby-trafficking scheme in Dublin in the 1950s.

The hero of this enjoyable crime novel from Black (the pseudonym of Man Booker–winner John Banville: The Sea, 2005) is Dr. Quirke, an oversized smoker with no illusions about himself or the bodies he carves up in the basement of Holy Family Hospital. Though he’s a widower—Quirke’s Boston-born wife Delia Crawford died during childbirth—he is not alone. Delia’s sister Sarah married Quirke’s obstetrics colleague Malachy Griffin, and Quirke is very fond of their daughter Phoebe. Quirke was reared as Malachy’s brother after being rescued from a dreadful orphanage by Malachy’s father, now a chief justice and a freshly minted papal count. Quirke was, oddly enough, the favored child in the family, but Malachy won the sister that Quirke really loved. The complex family relationships, including the torches Sarah and Quirke still carry for each other, muddle matters when Quirke finds that Malachy has falsified the death record of Christine Falls, a young woman who delivered a child, now vanished, before dying. Looking into the dead woman’s past, the curious Quirke finds that she was once employed in the Griffin household, as was hard-drinking Dolly Moran, in whose house Christine died. Quirke’s inquiries bring big trouble. Dolly Moran is murdered shortly after talking to Quirke, and then Quirke himself is viciously mugged after ignoring warnings to let drop the matter of Christine Falls and the babies that vanish from a creepy local orphanage. The pathologist, who hitherto seemed interested primarily in drinking himself to death, stays on the case until it takes him back to Boston and the home of the Crawford sisters.

A good story, and gorgeous writing.

Pub Date: March 6, 2007

ISBN: 0-8050-8152-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2006

A captivating, cerebral work of science fiction that may very well signal a new definitive voice in the genre.


From the The Wormwood Trilogy series , Vol. 1

When a detective with psychic powers begins to investigate a mysterious sickness plaguing those like him, he uncovers sinister truths that may very well call into question the survival of the human race.

It’s 2066, and in Nigeria, the town of Rosewater has grown up around a strange dome that heals whomever stands beneath it. Kaaro, a government security officer who was a criminal before becoming a soldier, is a “sensitive,” a rare breed of human endowed with psychic powers. Just as Kaaro meets a woman who could possibly make him happy, sensitives like him begin to get sick and die. As Kaaro digs deeper and deeper into the source of the sensitives’ illness, his troubled past and riveting present come together to paint the picture of a horrifying future. Thompson’s debut novel brims with inventive and seamless worldbuilding, eloquent prose, a strong cast of powerful black characters, and cutting social commentary on the current geopolitical shift toward authoritarianism and post-colonial trauma. Thompson’s rendering of the “xenosphere,” a theoretical dimension into which psychic characters can project their consciousnesses, is nothing short of brilliant. Perhaps Thompson’s most impressive feat is his use of Kaaro’s psychic powers to assert unprovable facts. For instance, when Kaaro senses a suicide bomber in a nearby crowd, he thinks: “I hate suicide bombers. Their heads are always full of mushy rhetoric, faulty logic and grim fucking resolve. Just after they activate the detonator there is some regret, but still.” Though the novel feels slightly overlong and the way the chapters rigidly alternate between past and present feels forced at times, it never fails to intrigue and entertain.

A captivating, cerebral work of science fiction that may very well signal a new definitive voice in the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-44905-2

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Orbit

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

Giordano’s wit and his formidable heroine's wisdom combine to make this debut a smash.


From the Auntie Poldi series , Vol. 1

An ex-pat from Munich finds love and murder in Sicily.

When Isolde Oberreiter decides at age 60 to move from Munich to Sicily “to drink herself comfortably to death with a sea view,” her decision makes a crazy kind of sense. Winters in Munich are not for the faint of heart. Her ex-husband, Peppe, now deceased, was from Catania, and his three sisters, Luisa, Teresa, and Caterina, welcome her to join them there. But Isolde, known to her family as Poldi, always flies to her own compass. Instead of Catania, she buys a villa in tiny Torre Archirafi, down the street from the Bar-Gelateria Cocuzza . Because even intrepid Poldi can’t manage a villa on her own, she recruits Valentino Candela, a local jack-of-all-trades, to help with the restoration. Valentino is a great worker until he disappears. Suspecting foul play, Poldi invades Femminamorta, a local estate Valentino mentioned just before vanishing. Valérie Raisi di Belfiore, the estate’s young owner, takes to Poldi, inviting her to dinner with her elderly cousin, Domenico Pastorella di Belfiore, owner of a still larger estate. Charmed as she is by Sicilian high society, Poldi isn’t getting any closer to finding Valentino. And she isn’t finding people with whom she really clicks—that is, until she crosses paths with police detective Vito Montana. Poldi is an irresistible newcomer with a mature voice and a vision of who she is and who she never will be, not afraid to take chances, and willing to fail. She's grateful to the universe for what it offers and accepting when it doesn't provide more. A drama queen who isn't fooled by her own production, she knows the value of living deeply.

Giordano’s wit and his formidable heroine's wisdom combine to make this debut a smash.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-908-52469-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Bitter Lemon Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

A classic mystery that would make Dame Agatha proud.


From the Truly Devious series , Vol. 1

Students attend the prestigious Ellingham Academy for myriad reasons, but all are geniuses, here to study that about which they’re most passionate.

Stephanie “Stevie” Bell studies crime, and there’s no better place to do this than where, in 1936, one of the nation’s most notorious crimes occurred. The wife and daughter of millionaire and school founder Albert Ellingham went missing. The only clue was a malicious, Dorothy Parker–style rhyme signed “Truly, Devious.” Although an innocent man was convicted of the kidnappings and the murder of Mrs. Ellingham (their daughter was never found), the crime was never truly solved. Stevie is obsessed with getting to the bottom of this decades-old case, and the crimes are made all the more real when one of her housemates is murdered and someone who calls themselves “Truly Devious” peremptorily claims responsibility. There’s a comfortable and realistic diversity among the characters. Stevie’s STEM genius friend Janelle is a “girl of color” and a lesbian. A white female teacher has a shaved head and unshaven legs, and minor characters include a Muslim girl and an (assumed-white) girl in a wheelchair. Stevie herself is white and struggles with depression and anxiety, illnesses that have no easy answers but which are represented here with truth and compassion. The story raises more questions than answers, leaving readers hoping Johnson has another entry up her clever sleeves.

A classic mystery that would make Dame Agatha proud. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-233805-1

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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