Though the book is at times difficult to follow, it is nevertheless a beautifully written story of love, loss and...



Velástegui’s psychological thriller is a dark tale of angst and redemption spanning centuries.

The tale revolves around an eclectic set of people of a “certain age” and their hired caregivers. Claire, one of the caregivers treating the seniors, is also their massage therapist. When Claire starts using a new massage oil developed by her grandmother, the seniors begin experiencing strange visions that are actually flashbacks from the lives of their ancestors. (Velástegui posits the theory that memories travel through the blood and that, until they are resolved, they will continue haunting the living.) These curious visions invigorate the elderly bunch and inspire them to set out on individual quests of fulfillment that began long ago, in a distant past. While most of the caregivers are devoted to their wards’ best interests, caregiver Soledad sees the situation as a way to help herself. Soledad and Alma Ruiz, a wannabe caregiver and pathological liar, hatch a scheme to bilk the seniors by staging lucrative “memory retrieval reenactments.” To put the plan into motion, Alma ingratiates herself into the lives of the seniors and begins to tap into their wealth. It is only through the efforts of other well-meaning caregivers and the seniors themselves that the evil plot is foiled. The story jumps from present-day scenes to those of past centuries. Unfortunately, the scenes of the past are disjointed; they involve different characters from different times and are hard to connect to the main story. But Velástegui richly invokes the spirit of her South American heritage. The characters are all of Spanish or Latino descent and range from the lowest class of society to the highest. In one way or another, all are in search of their roots—the very essence of their souls. Velástegui sees to it that everyone finds what they are looking for, to the elation of most and the utter despair of others.

Though the book is at times difficult to follow, it is nevertheless a beautifully written story of love, loss and opportunity. 

Pub Date: March 24, 2012


Page Count: 246

Publisher: Libros Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 30, 2012

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Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.


Thriller writer Baldacci (A Minute to Midnight, 2019, etc.) launches a new detective series starring World War II combat vet Aloysius Archer.

In 1949, Archer is paroled from Carderock Prison (he was innocent) and must report regularly to his parole officer, Ernestine Crabtree (she’s “damn fine-looking”). Parole terms forbid his visiting bars or loose women, which could become a problem. Trouble starts when businessman Hank Pittleman offers Archer $100 to recover a ’47 Cadillac that’s collateral for a debt owed by Lucas Tuttle, who readily agrees he owes the money. But Tuttle wants his daughter Jackie back—she’s Pittleman’s girlfriend, and she won’t return to Daddy. Archer finds the car, but it’s been torched. With no collateral to collect, he may have to return his hundred bucks. Meanwhile, Crabtree gets Archer the only job available, butchering hogs at the slaughterhouse. He’d killed plenty of men in combat, and now he needs peace. The Pittleman job doesn’t provide that peace, but at least it doesn’t involve bashing hogs’ brains in. People wind up dead and Archer becomes a suspect. So he noses around and shows that he might have the chops to be a good private investigator, a shamus. This is an era when gals have gams, guys say dang and keep extra Lucky Strikes in their hatbands, and a Lady Liberty half-dollar buys a good meal. The dialogue has a '40s noir feel: “And don’t trust nobody.…I don’t care how damn pretty they are.” There’s adult entertainment at the Cat’s Meow, cheap grub at the Checkered Past, and just enough clichés to prove that no one’s highfalutin. Readers will like Archer. He’s a talented man who enjoys detective stories, won’t keep ill-gotten gains, and respects women. All signs suggest a sequel where he hangs out a shamus shingle.

Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5387-5056-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2019

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Great storytelling, a quirky hero, and a quirkier plot make this a winner for adventure fans.


FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast finds evil afoot in his latest action-filled adventure (Verses for the Dead, 2018, etc.).

Imagine Florida beachcombers’ shock when they discover a shoe with a severed foot inside. Soon they see dozens more feet, all in identical shoes, bobbing toward the beach. Police and FBI ultimately count more than a hundred of them washing up on Sanibel and Captiva Islands' tranquil shores. Pendergast teams up with the junior Special Agent Armstrong Coldmoon to investigate this strange phenomenon. Oceanographers use a supercomputer to analyze Gulf currents and attempt to determine where the feet entered the ocean. Were they dumped off a ship or an island? Does each one represent a homicide? Analysts examine chemical residues and pollen, even the angle of each foot’s amputation, but the puzzle defies all explanation. Attention focuses on Cuba, where “something terrible was happening” in front of a coastal prison, and on China, the apparent source of the shoes. The clever plot is “a most baffling case indeed” for the brilliant Pendergast, but it’s the type of problem he thrives on. He’s hardly a stereotypical FBI agent, given for example his lemon-colored silk suit, his Panama hat, and his legendary insistence on working alone—until now. Pendergast rarely blinks—perhaps, someone surmises, he’s part reptile. But equally odd is Constance Greene, his “extraordinarily beautiful,” smart, and sarcastic young “ward” who has “eyes that had seen everything and, as a result, were surprised by nothing.” Coldmoon is more down to earth: part Lakota, part Italian, and “every inch a Fed.” Add in murderous drug dealers, an intrepid newspaper reporter, coyotes crossing the U.S.–Mexico border, and a pissed-off wannabe graphic novelist, and you have a thoroughly entertaining cast of characters. There is plenty of suspense, and the action gets bloody.

Great storytelling, a quirky hero, and a quirkier plot make this a winner for adventure fans.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4725-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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