A witty and engaging read for those who savor quirky mysteries and likable characters.

HOT AIR

There are strange goings-on in the little Hudson River town of Arnold Falls, where many of the denizens are also a bit odd.

In Suisman’s second novel about Arnold Falls, the first characters readers meet are Jeebie Walker and Will Shaffer, a gay couple who exude good will and curiosity. The audience views the story mostly through Jeebie’s eyes. Readers are quickly introduced to some other players, such as the curmudgeonly Judge Harschly (the author loves puns); Marvin the Hobo, hired as the town’s resident hermit; Bridget Roberts; Mayor Jenny and her adopted Haitian son, Wilky; Fayette de la Nouille; the ancient but still active Aunt Doozy; and a raft of others. And a plot—make that the main plot—slowly emerges. Objects around town have disappeared. This includes Bridget’s Martha Washington mobcap, the illuminated Schlitz sign from the Elks Club, Judge Harschly’s gavel, a vintage Princess phone, and the statue of the town’s “founder,” Hezekiah Hesper. There seems to be no rhyme or reason for these heists; most of the items have only sentimental value, if that. There is also a crew in town filming a TV series called Merryvale(that’s where Fayette comes in), a search for the rules of gumball, a slightly downsized version of baseball, and a demonstration of kulning,the ancient Swedish technique for calling the cows home. Oh, and in a desperate bid for fame—and money—the town agrees to change its name to Emollimax for six months. But the thief is eventually outed, an embezzlement scheme at the local hospital is unearthed and the culprits arrested, and serenity returns to Emollimax or, rather, Arnold Falls (which, by the way, does not have any waterfalls).

Suisman is clearly enjoying himself in this very leisurely paced and sprawling novel. Technically, the entertaining tale is probably a mystery, but instead of the standard fare of violence and dread, the best the author can come up with is low-level anxiety and befuddlement. No one even suffers a scratch. What will also strike readers is all the dialogue. Suisman’s characters just love to talk, whether it is gossip or ruminations on some perplexing mystery over a glass of wine or a stein of Clagger, the local brew. These are very laid-back people, but they’re also ecologically and socially conscious, whether it be looking out for friends—how is Wilky adjusting to his new life and his new mother? Just fine, thank you. Or searching for endangered species, like the northern cricket frog. Jeebie even turns a farm into an animal sanctuary called Fridstöck. And the author loves the odd fact. Readers will tie themselves to Wikipedia to verify things like lightning splitter architecture, Pepper’s Ghost, and a witch’s staircase. (Kulningis a real thing, incidentally.) The writing is clever, and readers get vivid character details, whether it be the cranky but good-hearted Judge Harschly or the sensitive Jeebie, who falls half in love with a cow and is always a bit on edge over his relatively new relationship with Will (he needn’t be). In this sequel, Suisman has again staked out Arnold Falls and a delightful cast. It is a safe bet that readers will be returning soon to the colorful town.

A witty and engaging read for those who savor quirky mysteries and likable characters.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-578-99328-7

Page Count: 270

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2021

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Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

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IT STARTS WITH US

The sequel to It Ends With Us (2016) shows the aftermath of domestic violence through the eyes of a single mother.

Lily Bloom is still running a flower shop; her abusive ex-husband, Ryle Kincaid, is still a surgeon. But now they’re co-parenting a daughter, Emerson, who's almost a year old. Lily won’t send Emerson to her father’s house overnight until she’s old enough to talk—“So she can tell me if something happens”—but she doesn’t want to fight for full custody lest it become an expensive legal drama or, worse, a physical fight. When Lily runs into Atlas Corrigan, a childhood friend who also came from an abusive family, she hopes their friendship can blossom into love. (For new readers, their history unfolds in heartfelt diary entries that Lily addresses to Finding Nemo star Ellen DeGeneres as she considers how Atlas was a calming presence during her turbulent childhood.) Atlas, who is single and running a restaurant, feels the same way. But even though she’s divorced, Lily isn’t exactly free. Behind Ryle’s veneer of civility are his jealousy and resentment. Lily has to plan her dates carefully to avoid a confrontation. Meanwhile, Atlas’ mother returns with shocking news. In between, Lily and Atlas steal away for romantic moments that are even sweeter for their authenticity as Lily struggles with child care, breastfeeding, and running a business while trying to find time for herself.

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-668-00122-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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REMINDERS OF HIM

After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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