An engaging tale about a love triangle featuring doctors set in beautiful Goa.

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A GOAN HOLIDAY

The reappearance of an old boyfriend complicates the failed marriage of two physicians—and raises many ghosts from the past—in this romantic mystery.

For the first time in 11 years, Dr. Anjali Joshi finds herself back in Vagator in the coastal Indian state of Goa, where the famous beaches bring tourists from all over the world. She is here to check on her family’s medical clinic, which has been attracting some rumors of criminality. While she’s in town, Anjali goes on a blind date at the behest of a meddling cousin only to arrive at the restaurant and see Dr. Joe D’Acosta sitting at the table. Joe is Anjali’s medical school boyfriend who disappeared from her life without a word 11 years ago—her last trip to Goa was to search for him only to hear that he didn’t want to be found. Enraged at the sight of him, she storms off. Anjali is recently divorced from Dr. Rishabh “Rishi” Rastogi, Joe’s old medical school roommate. Rishi used Anjali’s family’s political clout to protect himself from a blackmailer, but now that he is single again, the letters have begun to reappear, threatening to out him for a crime he committed many years ago. The return of the blackmailer causes Rishi to quit his job and rush to Goa to try to convince Anjali to forgive his past indiscretions and take him back. Meanwhile, Joe feels just as shaken by the blind date as Anjali and wonders what she knows about his disappearance: “The most important question of all was one Joe didn’t dare ask: was there a chance she knew the real reason why he left Delhi, the terrible truth of what he’d done?” As both men attempt to win back Anjali while escaping the mistakes of their youth, she, too, seeks emancipation from the past—at least, the past as she understands it. The narrative leaps back and forth between two timelines: the present in Goa and the past when the three protagonists were still in medical school. Perinchery’s prose is smooth and fluid, and it succeeds in capturing the muddled emotional states of her characters: “An Ambassador car waited at the entrance of the jetty. Joe hesitated only a second or two before stumbling into the backseat. If he tried to run, he wasn’t gonna get far, and what the agent said about the criminals going after Joe’s loved ones... he watched the streets fly past, not really seeing any of it.” While there are some high-stakes happenings and big reveals, the book is essentially a three-part character study (with some supporting personalities as well). It feels long at over 500 pages—a slimmer novel would have more momentum—but the world and the characters are generally compelling. In addition to universal themes of love and betrayal, the author explores some particular South Asian concerns relating to marriage, gender roles, and familial expectations. The ending is perhaps a bit too neat, but those who have gotten that far are likely onboard with Perinchery’s tidy brand of storytelling.

An engaging tale about a love triangle featuring doctors set in beautiful Goa.

Pub Date: Nov. 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73379-864-8

Page Count: 2019

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2020

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This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

OUTFOX

An FBI agent is determined to catch a man who bilks and murders wealthy women, but the chase goes slowly.

Brown (Tailspin, 2018, etc.) has published 70 bestsellers, and this one employs her usual template of thriller spiked with romance. Its main character, Drex Easton, is an FBI agent in pursuit of a serial killer, but for him it’s personal. When he was a boy, his mother left him and his father for another man, Weston Graham. Drex believes Graham murdered her and that he has killed at least seven more women after emptying their bank accounts. Now he thinks he has the clever Graham—current alias Jasper Ford—in his sights, and he’s willing to put his career at risk to catch him. The women Ford targets are wealthy, and his new prey is no exception—except that, uncharacteristically, he has married her. Talia Ford proves to be a complication for Drex, who instantly falls in lust with her even though he’s not at all sure she isn’t her husband's accomplice. Posing as a would-be novelist, Drex moves into an apartment next door to the Fords’ posh home and tries to ingratiate himself, but tensions rise immediately—Jasper is suspicious, and Talia has mixed feelings about Drex's flirtatious behavior. When Talia’s fun-loving friend Elaine Conner turns up dead after a cruise on her yacht and Jasper disappears, Drex and Talia become allies. There are a few action sequences and fewer sex scenes, but the novel’s pace bogs down repeatedly in long, mundane conversations. Drex's two FBI agent sidekicks are more interesting characters than he is; Drex himself is such a caricature of a macho man, so heedless of ethics, and so aggressive toward women that it’s tough to see him as a good guy. Brown adds a couple of implausible twists at the very end that make him seem almost as untrustworthy as Graham.

This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4555-7219-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A thoughtful and pensive tale with intelligent characters and a satisfying romance.

THE LAST LETTER

A promise to his best friend leads an Army serviceman to a family in need and a chance at true love in this novel.

Beckett Gentry is surprised when his Army buddy Ryan MacKenzie gives him a letter from Ryan’s sister, Ella. Abandoned by his mother, Beckett grew up in a series of foster homes. He is wary of attachments until he reads Ella’s letter. A single mother, Ella lives with her twins, Maisie and Colt, at Solitude, the resort she operates in Telluride, Colorado. They begin a correspondence, although Beckett can only identify himself by his call sign, Chaos. After Ryan’s death during a mission, Beckett travels to Telluride as his friend had requested. He bonds with the twins while falling deeply in love with Ella. Reluctant to reveal details of Ryan’s death and risk causing her pain, Beckett declines to disclose to Ella that he is Chaos. Maisie needs treatment for neuroblastoma, and Beckett formally adopts the twins as a sign of his commitment to support Ella and her children. He and Ella pursue a romance, but when an insurance investigator questions the adoption, Beckett is faced with revealing the truth about the letters and Ryan’s death, risking losing the family he loves. Yarros’ (Wilder, 2016, etc.) novel is a deeply felt and emotionally nuanced contemporary romance bolstered by well-drawn characters and strong, confident storytelling. Beckett and Ella are sympathetic protagonists whose past experiences leave them cautious when it comes to love. Beckett never knew the security of a stable home life. Ella impulsively married her high school boyfriend, but the marriage ended when he discovered she was pregnant. The author is especially adept at developing the characters through subtle but significant details, like Beckett’s aversion to swearing. Beckett and Ella’s romance unfolds slowly in chapters that alternate between their first-person viewpoints. The letters they exchanged are pivotal to their connection, and almost every chapter opens with one. Yarros’ writing is crisp and sharp, with passages that are poetic without being florid. For example, in a letter to Beckett, Ella writes of motherhood: “But I’m not the center of their universe. I’m more like their gravity.” While the love story is the book’s focus, the subplot involving Maisie’s illness is equally well-developed, and the link between Beckett and the twins is heartfelt and sincere.

A thoughtful and pensive tale with intelligent characters and a satisfying romance.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64063-533-3

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Entangled: Amara

Review Posted Online: Jan. 2, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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