A sharp, surprisingly affecting debut.


A cobbled-together family of money launderers is in big trouble after their newly hired runner disappears with $250,000.

The Brooklyn-based operation is headed by seasoned schemer Shecky Keenan. It includes two orphans: Henry Vek, 21, whom "Uncle Shecky" took in at age 9 after the boy's boozing mother (Shecky's cousin) died in a car crash, and Kerasha Brown, 23, the daughter of another of Shecky's ill-fated cousins. A brilliant thief and break-in artist, Kerasha recently joined the household after having served six years in prison. Though all the members of this makeshift family are "mixed race, Henry and Shecky look white, and Kerasha, black." When the runner, Emil, a talented artist friend of Henry's, goes missing, Shecky must answer to the intimidating client whose money was lost. Meanwhile, Kerasha, who like her late mother is drawn to heroin, becomes obsessed with a contentious, court-appointed psychologist with the power to send her back into custody. Written in a jumpy, time-hopping, and sometimes hallucinatory style, this first novel is loaded with damaged characters. Shecky is haunted by the rape and murder of his sister and a squalid upbringing by three vicious uncles. Zera, a cop on the trail of human traffickers, was herself bought and sold as an orphan child in her native Montenegro. A seasoned legal investigator, Selfon has firsthand knowledge of laundering schemes and the people who devise them. More importantly, he is attuned to questions of identity and belonging. Not all of the characters click, and the book contains more narrative noise than it needs, but the poetry-loving, sharply reflective Kerasha alone makes the book worth reading. She deserves a sequel all her own.

A sharp, surprisingly affecting debut.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-374-22201-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: MCD/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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A compelling take on the classic whodunit.

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The shocking murder of a public figure at a high-end hotel has everyone guessing who the culprit might be.

Twenty-five-year-old Molly Gray, an eccentric young woman who's obsessed with cleaning but doesn't quite have the same ability to navigate social cues as those around her, loves working as a maid at the Regency Grand Hotel. Raised by her old-fashioned grandmother, who loved nothing more than cleaning and watching Columbo reruns, Molly has an overly polite and straightforward manner that can make her seem odd and off-putting to her colleagues despite her being the hardest worker at the hotel. After her grandmother's death, Molly's rigid life begins to lose some of its long-held balance, and when the infamous Mr. Charles Black, a rich and powerful businessman suspected of various criminal enterprises, is found murdered in one of the rooms she cleans, her whole world gets turned upside down. Before Molly knows what's happening, her odd demeanor has the police convinced she's guilty of the crime, and certain people at the hotel are a little too pleased about it. With the help of a few new friends (and while fending off new foes), she must begin to untangle the mystery of who really killed Mr. Black to get herself off the hook once and for all. Though the unusual ending might frustrate some readers, this unique debut will keep them reading.

A compelling take on the classic whodunit.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35615-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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A unique story of transcendent love.


An aimless young musician meets the girl of his dreams only to have his newfound happiness threatened by several inexplicable—and possibly supernatural—events.

The story opens as Leeds Gabriel meets with a detective while his girlfriend, Layla, is restrained in a room one flight above them. Through the interview, readers learn that Leeds was wasting both his time and his musical talent playing backup for a small-town wedding troupe called Garrett’s Band when he spied Layla dancing her heart out to their mediocre music at a wedding. When Leeds approaches Layla, their connection is both instant and intense. A blissful courtship follows, but then Leeds makes the mistake of posting a picture of himself with Layla on social media. A former girlfriend–turned-stalker wastes no time in finding and attacking Layla. Layla spends months recovering in a hospital, and it seems the girl Leeds fell for might be forever changed. Gone is her special spark, her quirkiness, and the connection that had entranced Leeds months before. In a last-ditch effort to save their relationship, he brings Layla back to the bed-and-breakfast where they first met. When they get there, though, Leeds meets Willow, another guest, and finds himself drawn to her in spite of himself. As events unfold, it becomes clear that Willow will either be the key to saving Leeds’ relationship with Layla or the catalyst that finally extinguishes the last shreds of their epic romance. Told entirely from Leeds’ point of view, the author’s first foray into paranormal romance does not disappoint. Peppered with elements of mystery, psychological thriller, and contemporary romance, the novel explores questions about how quickly true love can develop, as well as the conflicts that can imperil even the strongest connections. Despite a limited cast of characters and very few setting changes, the narrative manages to remain both fast-paced and engaging. The conclusion leaves a few too many loose ends, but the chemistry between the characters and unexpected twists throughout make for a satisfying read.

A unique story of transcendent love.

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-0017-8

Page Count: 301

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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