THE PROPHETESS

An entertaining suspense thriller, set during the last days of 1999 and featuring the discovery of ancient, explosive religious revelations in a series of scrolls. Wood has dealt previously with the spiritual odysseys of feisty females (The Dreaming, 1991, etc.), as well as with archaeological adventures. But this is also a tale of a pair on the run, and their adventures carry the story beyond its preachments, however worthy. Catherine Alexander, an enterprising archaeologist with feminist scores to settle—principally with the Catholic Church—finds in her Sinai dig six ancient papyrus scrolls containing not only the name of Jesus but also pointing to the possibility of women priests in the early church. To protect her finds from a greedy establishment, Catherine decides to smuggle them out of the country and enlists the help of her old friend Daniel, another archaeologist. To her dismay and puzzlement, it is a handsome young priest, Fr. Michael Garibaldi, who in turn comes to the pair's aid as a number of enemies close in. Among the pursuers eager for the scrolls: mega-mouth Miles Havers, the ultimate collector, and his lethal hirelings; the Catholic Church; the Egyptian government; and then, following Daniel's death, the state police of California. There will be two murders, pursuits and escapes, and deadly games via cyberspace as Havers's brilliant computer expert gleefully surfs to find Catherine and the priest. Between alarms (and a bit of forbidden passion) and mutual confessions, Catherine translates the six scrolls—the account of a first-century woman who had travelled the known world searching for ``the Righteous One.'' Visits to a quiet cloister (and its secrets) in Vermont and a Vatican necropolis lead to the discovery of a revelatory Seventh Scroll. The religious message here—mainstream unitarian with a mere whiff of New Age—is benign and appealing, but the pace is set by that ``pair of daring adventurers running through cyberspace . . . defying death, going for the prize.'' Fox and hounds with uplift.

Pub Date: June 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-316-81652-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1996

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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