A vivid re-creation of a Tudor tragedy.



A lusty teenager caught the roving eye of Henry VIII.

Continuing a fictional chronicle of the Six Tudor Queens, Weir brings thorough research and spirited storytelling to her portrayal of Katheryn Howard, Henry VIII’s fifth wife. Katheryn was 19 when her manipulative, ambitious uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, and her stepgrandmother, the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk, summoned her with a proposal: Henry VIII had tired of his German wife, Anne of Cleves, and, rumor had it, had not yet consummated their marriage. He sought an annulment; soon he would need a new wife. The Howards saw Katheryn, one of Anne’s many maids of honor, as a means to elevate their position and wealth as well as to bring a Catholic into the court. Of course, Katheryn had to be—or pretend to be—a virgin. “Chastity is to be prized,” Katheryn knew. “But what was wrong with taking your pleasure where you found it?” She easily and ardently fell in love: with her music teacher; with a distant cousin, a rakish courtier who “rode her like a stallion, gasping and moaning” and insisted they were married; and with the handsome Tom Culpeper, whom she had known as a child. Now a good-looking man “with a strong jaw and high cheekbones,” he was an esteemed member of the king’s Privy Chamber. Weir sees Katheryn as an impetuous, superficial young woman—far less sympathetic than Jane Seymour or Katherine of Aragon—dazzled by wealth and glamour. As maid of honor, she exulted, “she would live in palaces, have beautiful gowns, dance and make merry.” To her great delight, seducing Henry involved many luxurious new vestments and jewels. After their marriage, “dizzy with elation,” she exclaimed to herself, “She really was queen!” But not for long: Betrayals, plots, subterfuge, and her unbridled passion caused “the whole glittering edifice” of her life to implode.

A vivid re-creation of a Tudor tragedy.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-101-96660-0

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.


Thriller writer Baldacci (A Minute to Midnight, 2019, etc.) launches a new detective series starring World War II combat vet Aloysius Archer.

In 1949, Archer is paroled from Carderock Prison (he was innocent) and must report regularly to his parole officer, Ernestine Crabtree (she’s “damn fine-looking”). Parole terms forbid his visiting bars or loose women, which could become a problem. Trouble starts when businessman Hank Pittleman offers Archer $100 to recover a ’47 Cadillac that’s collateral for a debt owed by Lucas Tuttle, who readily agrees he owes the money. But Tuttle wants his daughter Jackie back—she’s Pittleman’s girlfriend, and she won’t return to Daddy. Archer finds the car, but it’s been torched. With no collateral to collect, he may have to return his hundred bucks. Meanwhile, Crabtree gets Archer the only job available, butchering hogs at the slaughterhouse. He’d killed plenty of men in combat, and now he needs peace. The Pittleman job doesn’t provide that peace, but at least it doesn’t involve bashing hogs’ brains in. People wind up dead and Archer becomes a suspect. So he noses around and shows that he might have the chops to be a good private investigator, a shamus. This is an era when gals have gams, guys say dang and keep extra Lucky Strikes in their hatbands, and a Lady Liberty half-dollar buys a good meal. The dialogue has a '40s noir feel: “And don’t trust nobody.…I don’t care how damn pretty they are.” There’s adult entertainment at the Cat’s Meow, cheap grub at the Checkered Past, and just enough clichés to prove that no one’s highfalutin. Readers will like Archer. He’s a talented man who enjoys detective stories, won’t keep ill-gotten gains, and respects women. All signs suggest a sequel where he hangs out a shamus shingle.

Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5387-5056-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2019

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