Touching, involving short fiction from a writer who eschews bold imagery and stylistic fireworks—and slowly, doggedly gets...

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FLIGHTS OF LOVE

STORIES

A first collection of seven patiently detailed, emotionally complex tales from the German author of the surprise critical success (an Oprah selection) The Reader (1997).

As did that quietly engrossing debut novel, Schlink’s stories excavate the sources of his characters’ singularity and uncertainty in their past histories, and also thrust forward to display the lasting consequences of the choices they’ve made. For example, a young West German’s complicated friendship with an East German couple (in “A Little Fling”) tests his tendency toward withdrawal and plunges him into an irreconcilable tangle of political and marital conflicts and betrayals. In the compelling title story, an introverted young man’s fixation on an eye-catching painting unsettles both his family’s harmony and his own ability to sustain relationships; and in “The Other Man” a widower’s slowly developing revenge against his late wife’s secret lover reveals to him his own compromises and failings. Schlink’s bleak realism sometimes misfires, producing slices of life (“The Son,” “The Circumcision”) that remain shapeless and inconclusive. But at his best—as in the mordant “Sugar Peas,” about a married architect’s inability to “juggle’ relationships with the several women who make him happy and fulfilled—he’s a sober, meticulous craftsman whose plainspoken analyses of the often extraordinary inner dimensions of outwardly ordinary lives recalls the generally underestimated fiction of his countrymen Heinrich Böll and Martin Walser. And, at times, he works with a concision and suggestiveness that vibrate with thematic possibility: notably in “The Woman at the Gas Station,” whose middle-aged protagonist discovers, during a hopeful “second honeymoon” trip with the wife from whom he has grown estranged, that a recurring romantic dream may have taken possession of him in a way his “reality” no longer can.

Touching, involving short fiction from a writer who eschews bold imagery and stylistic fireworks—and slowly, doggedly gets into your head and under your skin.

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-42090-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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Another success for the publishing phenom.

UNDER CURRENTS

An abused boy fights back, escapes, then returns as an attorney to his beloved hometown, but just as he’s falling in love with a transplanted landscaper, a series of attacks from shadowy enemies jeopardizes their happiness.

“From the outside, the house in Lakeview Terrace looked perfect.” Which of course means that it wasn't. We're introduced to the horrifying Dr. Graham Bigelow, who beats his wife and, increasingly as the boy gets older, his son, Zane. On the night of Zane’s prom, a particularly savage attack puts him and his sister in the hospital, and his father blames Zane, landing him in jail. Then his sister stands up for him, enlisting the aid of their aunt, and everything changes, mainly due to Zane’s secret diaries. Nearly 20 years later, Zane leaves a successful career as a lawyer to return to Lakeview, where his aunt and sister live with their families, deciding to hang a shingle as a small-town lawyer. Then he meets Darby McCray, the landscaper who’s recently relocated and taken the town by storm, starting with the transformation of his family’s rental bungalows. The two are instantly intrigued by each other, but they move slowly into a relationship neither is looking for. Darby has a violent past of her own, so she is more than willing to take on the risk of antagonizing a boorish local family when she and Zane help an abused wife. Suddenly Zane and Darby face one attack after another, and even as they grow ever closer under the pressure, the dangers become more insidious. Roberts’ latest title feels a little long and the story is slightly cumbersome, but her greatest strength is in making the reader feel connected to her characters, so “unnecessary details” can also charm and engage.

Another success for the publishing phenom.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-20709-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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A romantic suspense that skillfully balances both elements.

THE DECEPTION

A successful businesswoman hires a smooth-talking bounty hunter to find a lead on her sister’s murder.

Kate Gallagher was the only one available to identify her younger sister Chrissy’s body after she was found dead, having run away from home two years earlier. Since Chrissy succumbed to drugs and turned to sex work to survive, her murder isn't taken seriously by the local homicide department. Kate is filled with grief and regret at not having been there for her sister, and she’s determined to find her killer as a kind of penance. Jason Maddox is the charming man Kate almost hooked up with at a local bar. He also happens to be on the payroll of the most successful investigation company in Dallas. He’s all too eager to help Kate out and spend more time getting to know the blonde he danced with at the Sagebrush Saloon. At first, Kate and Jason vow to keep things professional until the case is solved; there’s obvious attraction that they’re willing to pursue at a later date. But the increasing sense of danger mixed with Kate and Jason’s close proximity proves to be too heady of a combination. The tension never lets up as the pair visit seedy bars and interrogate unsavory characters. With a steamy romance and undeniably hot chemistry, the main characters are well matched. They’re both driven, slightly stubborn, and enjoy the adrenaline rush of catching criminals. Martin (The Conspiracy, 2019, etc.) doesn’t skimp on graphic, violent details as Chrissy’s murder leads her couple to something much bigger: human trafficking. Though not for the faint of heart given its weighty material, this is an un-put-down-able page-turner that’s sure to satisfy fans of romance and thrillers alike.

A romantic suspense that skillfully balances both elements.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-335-00769-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harlequin HQN

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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