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SAVIOR'S DAY

A thrilling, satisfying and multilayered adventure story.

Awards & Accolades

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An ancient text contains a shattering truth in this apocalyptic thriller.

Winter’s (Someone Else’s Son, 2013) tense, tightly plotted novel opens with an exceptionally effective dramatic hook: Two men—one Christian, one Muslim—perch in hidden spots on rooftops above Jerusalem’s Western Wall, patiently waiting for an elaborate ceremony to start. It’s a ceremony that has the attention of the entire world, as the pope, the U.S. president, and the leaders of Israel and Palestine plan to handle an ancient biblical text, the Codex of Aleppo, in a symbolic gesture of peace. Jerusalem will then formally become an international protectorate under the jurisdiction of the United Nations, thus resolving territorial controversies that have plagued the region for centuries. Both gunmen, spurred by fanatical visions, are prepared to stop it from happening—even at the cost of their own lives. As Winter ratchets up the tension leading to the climactic moment, he switches abruptly to the story of Cardinal Arnold Ford, who witnesses a man getting shot on the steps of New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral; the man hands him a strange slip of paper before he dies. Ford, a craggy, magnetic, middle-aged black man, later meets the intriguing LeShana Thompkins, a New York police detective investigating the shooting. They both have hidden depths: The cardinal sees visions (one early scene in a confessional is particularly chilling), and the detective knows both the Hebrew language and the complicated history and significance of the Codex of Aleppo. As she relates this history to Ford, Winter interweaves chapters that richly evoke the various main characters’ pasts. The complicated plot resembles a pair of interlocking spirals, with Detective Thompkins’ revelations taking readers steadily further back in time and the gunmen’s parallel back stories bringing readers forward to the moment of the shooting. Winter’s command of his historical material is impressive, as is his skill at shaping his characters—particularly Ford and Thompkins, whose unfolding relationship is the best thing in the book. The textual mystery of the codex will please Dan Brown fans, and its execution is a significant step above that in The Da Vinci Code (2003).

A thrilling, satisfying and multilayered adventure story.

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-1491705698

Page Count: 318

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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WE WERE THE LUCKY ONES

Too beholden to sentimentality and cliché, this novel fails to establish a uniquely realized perspective.

Hunter’s debut novel tracks the experiences of her family members during the Holocaust.

Sol and Nechuma Kurc, wealthy, cultured Jews in Radom, Poland, are successful shop owners; they and their grown children live a comfortable lifestyle. But that lifestyle is no protection against the onslaught of the Holocaust, which eventually scatters the members of the Kurc family among several continents. Genek, the oldest son, is exiled with his wife to a Siberian gulag. Halina, youngest of all the children, works to protect her family alongside her resistance-fighter husband. Addy, middle child, a composer and engineer before the war breaks out, leaves Europe on one of the last passenger ships, ending up thousands of miles away. Then, too, there are Mila and Felicia, Jakob and Bella, each with their own share of struggles—pain endured, horrors witnessed. Hunter conducted extensive research after learning that her grandfather (Addy in the book) survived the Holocaust. The research shows: her novel is thorough and precise in its details. It’s less precise in its language, however, which frequently relies on cliché. “You’ll get only one shot at this,” Halina thinks, enacting a plan to save her husband. “Don’t botch it.” Later, Genek, confronting a routine bit of paperwork, must decide whether or not to hide his Jewishness. “That form is a deal breaker,” he tells himself. “It’s life and death.” And: “They are low, it seems, on good fortune. And something tells him they’ll need it.” Worse than these stale phrases, though, are the moments when Hunter’s writing is entirely inadequate for the subject matter at hand. Genek, describing the gulag, calls the nearest town “a total shitscape.” This is a low point for Hunter’s writing; elsewhere in the novel, it’s stronger. Still, the characters remain flat and unknowable, while the novel itself is predictable. At this point, more than half a century’s worth of fiction and film has been inspired by the Holocaust—a weighty and imposing tradition. Hunter, it seems, hasn’t been able to break free from her dependence on it.

Too beholden to sentimentality and cliché, this novel fails to establish a uniquely realized perspective.

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-56308-9

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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MAGIC HOUR

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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