An inventive if imperfect solution to a decades-old mystery.

HER LAST FLIGHT

What if Amelia Earhart had not only survived her last flight, but found true romance?

The book opens in 1947 with the story of Janey Everett, a war correspondent whose first-person frame narrative alternates with excerpts from her book, Aviatrix, about celebrity airwoman Irene Foster and her flight coach and eventual lover, stunt pilot Sam Mallory. Williams’ otherwise imaginative novel front-loads a lot of exposition, particularly about Janey’s past—the many reasons she’s in denial about the extent of her own vulnerability as she uses men to get information, first about the location of Mallory’s remains and later about the whereabouts of Irene, who now, a decade after her plane went missing in 1937, lives in obscurity in Hawaii. Janey's chronicle of star-crossed lovers Irene and Sam unfolds in similarly creaky fashion. They meet while surfing on a California beach. A stray kitten is in the mix, adopted by Sam. The cat, dubbed Sandy, serves as motif and talisman. After Sam teaches Irene to fly, Sandy stows away on their groundbreaking flight from California to Australia. Nineteen years later Janey discovers that Sandy, living with Irene, has defied all conventions of feline longevity. Although the book is expressly not intended as biographical fiction, many aspects of Earhart’s life are here, among them an alcoholic father and a New York publisher who acts as her promoter (based on George Putnam, but here, in a sly nod to Williams’ own publisher, surnamed Morrow). The action is significantly slowed by technical details about surfing and flying that are sometimes engrossing but often gratuitous. Only halfway through does tension ramp up as Irene and Sam contemplate a future together and confront a giant impediment: Sam’s wife, who wouldn’t hesitate to use his young daughter as a pawn. Plenty of twists ensue, but by now readers may have lost patience. Williams has a fine ear for period-appropriate dialogue, leading us to wonder why there isn’t more of it.

An inventive if imperfect solution to a decades-old mystery.

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-283478-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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A warm and winning "When Harry Met Sally…" update that hits all the perfect notes.

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PEOPLE WE MEET ON VACATION

A travel writer has one last shot at reconnecting with the best friend she just might be in love with.

Poppy and Alex couldn't be more different. She loves wearing bright colors while he prefers khakis and a T-shirt. She likes just about everything while he’s a bit more discerning. And yet, their opposites-attract friendship works because they love each other…in a totally platonic way. Probably. Even though they have their own separate lives (Poppy lives in New York City and is a travel writer with a popular Instagram account; Alex is a high school teacher in their tiny Ohio hometown), they still manage to get together each summer for one fabulous vacation. They grow closer every year, but Poppy doesn’t let herself linger on her feelings for Alex—she doesn’t want to ruin their friendship or the way she can be fully herself with him. They continue to date other people, even bringing their serious partners on their summer vacations…but then, after a falling-out, they stop speaking. When Poppy finds herself facing a serious bout of ennui, unhappy with her glamorous job and the life she’s been dreaming of forever, she thinks back to the last time she was truly happy: her last vacation with Alex. And so, though they haven’t spoken in two years, she asks him to take another vacation with her. She’s determined to bridge the gap that’s formed between them and become best friends again, but to do that, she’ll have to be honest with Alex—and herself—about her true feelings. In chapters that jump around in time, Henry shows readers the progression (and dissolution) of Poppy and Alex’s friendship. Their slow-burn love story hits on beloved romance tropes (such as there unexpectedly being only one bed on the reconciliation trip Poppy plans) while still feeling entirely fresh. Henry’s biggest strength is in the sparkling, often laugh-out-loud-funny dialogue, particularly the banter-filled conversations between Poppy and Alex. But there’s depth to the story, too—Poppy’s feeling of dissatisfaction with a life that should be making her happy as well as her unresolved feelings toward the difficult parts of her childhood make her a sympathetic and relatable character. The end result is a story that pays homage to classic romantic comedies while having a point of view all its own.

A warm and winning "When Harry Met Sally…" update that hits all the perfect notes.

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0675-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

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THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME

When a devoted husband and father disappears, his wife and daughter set out to find him.

Hannah Hall is deeply in love with her husband of one year, Owen Michaels. She’s also determined to win over his 16-year-old daughter, Bailey, who has made it very clear that she’s not thrilled with her new stepmother. Despite the drama, the family is mostly a happy one. They live in a lovely houseboat in Sausalito; Hannah is a woodturner whose handmade furniture brings in high-dollar clientele; and Owen works for The Shop, a successful tech firm. Their lives are shattered, however, when Hannah receives a note saying “Protect her” and can’t reach Owen by phone. Then there’s the bag full of cash Bailey finds in her school locker and the shocking news that The Shop’s CEO has been taken into custody. Hannah learns that the FBI has been investigating the firm for about a year regarding some hot new software they took to market before it was fully functional, falsifying their financial statements. Hannah refuses to believe her husband is involved in the fraud, and a U.S. marshal assigned to the case claims Owen isn’t a suspect. Hannah doesn’t know whom to trust, though, and she and Bailey resolve to root out the clues that might lead to Owen. They must also learn to trust one another. Hannah’s narrative alternates past and present, detailing her early days with Owen alongside her current hunt for him, and author Dave throws in a touch of danger and a few surprises. But what really drives the story is the evolving nature of Hannah and Bailey’s relationship, which is by turns poignant and frustrating but always realistic.

Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7134-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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