So many cars and guns, so many screw-ups, so many dead bodies—they all blur together after a while.

BONNIE

Schwarz’s fictionalized biography of Bonnie Parker, who, with Clyde Barrow, gained notoriety as part of a wave of Depression-era outlaws, will divide readers along generational lines.

For those too young to remember the 1967 movie Bonnie and Clyde, this play-by-play account of the couple’s far-from-successful criminal career offers a grim introduction to a gang of characters hopelessly downtrodden, psychopathic, or sometimes both. Readers who came of age around the time of the iconic film—a mix of comedy, graphic violence, and visual romanticism that made outlaws into larger-than-life romantic figures—will see Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway on every page (as when Bonnie notices Clyde’s dimple for the first time) and will wonder at the necessity of this ploddingly detailed, all-too-earthbound retelling. But the novel’s opening offers even those who remember the movie a fresh, touching view of Bonnie before Clyde—the bright, sensitive child more plucky than headstrong evolving into a young woman still innocent but with “big dreams, no patience.” Briefly married at 16, Bonnie is waitressing in Dallas, Texas, when she meets Clyde, whose courtship is charming and conventional in its first weeks until he’s arrested while sleeping on her (always devoted) mother’s couch. Sent to jail in March 1930, Clyde convinces Bonnie to help him escape. Recaptured, he’s sent to a harsher prison. When he’s released two years later, they hit the road, living off Clyde’s robberies, which often go wrong and sometimes end in someone’s death. They’re joined in their dreary capers by a few hardened criminals but mostly by boys like W.D., riding along for the excitement until implicated too deeply to easily leave. By 1934, Bonnie is destitute, in constant pain from a car accident, drinking and popping pills. Still committed to deluded loser Clyde, she continues writing romantic poetry although her own romantic illusions evaporated long ago.

So many cars and guns, so many screw-ups, so many dead bodies—they all blur together after a while.

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4545-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE

In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8272-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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Be patient—once the Le Creuset pot finally starts boiling, this book earns its place on the beach blanket.

SUMMER ON THE BLUFFS

A self-made Black millionaire invites her three goddaughters for a last Martha's Vineyard summer—at the end of which one will get the mansion.

In the first volume of a planned trilogy, Terry McMillan meets Elin Hilderbrand: There are strong Black women in a lovingly detailed coastal Massachusetts location amid clothes, food, and long-kept secrets. Hostin's grande dame, New Orleans–born Amelia "Ama" Vaux, once known as the "Witch of Wall Street," has buried the other half of her long, seemingly perfect marriage. Power lawyer Omar Tanner, "a quiet man who looked good in suits"—almost every man in this book looks good in or out of suits and resembles Denzel Washington, Billy Dee Williams, Dev Patel, or Paul Newman's little brother—has collaborated with his wife on her fairy godmother project. Instead of having their own children, they chose young Perry, Olivia, and Billie, filling their plebeian lives with monied ease and Vineyard summers in the elite Black enclave of Oak Bluffs. Now Ama is ready to pass on Chateau Laveau to one of them while bestowing equal, but unnamed, gifts on the others. She arranges several months off for all three women, now a high-powered lawyer, financier, and marine biologist (she's a witch, all right), and flies them up for a summer that promises to end with not just the gifts, but with revelations. It takes a little too long to get there, though some may enjoy the leisurely setup and relentless name-checking—a concordance of the Black visual artists, musicians, authors, actors, designers, and celebrities mentioned here, along with the New York and Martha's Vineyard restaurants and bars, could be a valuable book in itself. Hostin's most serious weakness is substituting catalog copy for characterization—one character "look[s] fierce in a charcoal-gray Rachel Comey jumpsuit"; another "add[s] a pair of playful Sophia Webster sneakers"; Ama chooses a "chinoiserie pattern...as recherché and mysterious as her eldest goddaughter."

Be patient—once the Le Creuset pot finally starts boiling, this book earns its place on the beach blanket.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-299417-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: tomorrow

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