A haunting story told with quiet, emotional power.

THE POWER LINE

A rugged woodsman from the Adirondacks is drawn into the dangerous world of bootlegging in Shaw’s debut novel set in the 1920s.

François Germaine grows up in Lake Aurora in New York state’s Adirondack Mountains, a densely forested area with which he has an intimate familiarity. He abandons engineering school at nearby Clarkson University in Potsdam in 1914, despite having real talent in that area; instead, he joins the U.S. Army, establishing himself as a war hero as he fights in Mexico and France. However, he returns to his hometown a sullen, quick-tempered man who’s inclined to drink to terrible excess. He finds work with an electric company constructing power lines throughout the region and soon stumbles into an opportunity to become a bootlegger, partnering with his best friend, Alonzo “Lonnie” Monroe, to transport illicit booze smuggled in from Canada during the Prohibition years for Legs Diamond, a relatively minor New York City gangster. However, the lucrative side gig turns increasingly dangerous as the pair go from being couriers to “bootlegger’s henchmen.” When someone murders a member of a rival New York outfit, the notoriously brutal gangster Dutch Schultz blames Diamond, and a gang war erupts that threatens to bury François and Lonnie. Throughout, Shaw depicts the two friends as aging relics in a vanishing world, and he poignantly describes their connection to their home: “They learned the ground by hearing it described over and over, even while in the womb, so when they got to a place for the first time, invited along to help and do chores at age ten or twelve, they already knew where they were and how it related to the whole.”

The novel is split into two parts; in the first, Lonnie tells the tale of his misadventures with François to local amateur historian Abel St. Martin, and the second delves into the private journal of Rosalyn Orloff,  a brilliant woman who studied with philosopher William James while at Radcliffe College and was friends with Gertrude Stein. Rosalyn also crosses paths with François, and her account of him serves as a kind of ballast to Lonnie’s, as his credibility is suspect: “He’s always trafficked in howlers, lies and tall tales, hackneyed old homilies about the side-hill winder, the snow snake, the hide-behind,” according to St. Martin.Shaw’s poetic, elegiac style is affectingly melancholic and the story deftly raises provocative questions about the extent to which one can see clearly into a “still-murky past.” François is a memorably well-drawn character—hardened by a violent life but still achingly vulnerable. And Lonnie, in his 80s when he relates his story, is a moving embodiment of heartbreak. In a way, though, the Adirondacks itself are the true center of the novel, and François and Lonnie preemptively mourn its death even as they contribute to it: “The big woods are gone,” Lonnie says at one point, adding, “I’m gonna be dead myself soon enough, and I want them dams making power before I go.”

A haunting story told with quiet, emotional power.

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-977233-35-6

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Outskirts Press

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2021

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Honestly, who needs Nantucket. It could hardly be more fun than this book.

THE HOTEL NANTUCKET

Bring on the fresh-baked gougères and the hydrangea-blue cashmere throws: A classic fictional setting—the grand hotel—gets the Hilderbrand treatment.

The beloved beach novelist’s 28th book is another tour de force, deploying all her usual tricks and tropes and clever points of view, again among them a character from the afterlife and the collective “we” of gossipy island residents. Our ghost is Grace Hadley, a teenage chambermaid who died under suspicious circumstances in a hotel fire in 1922. Grace’s lonely days are over when the historic property is purchased and reopened by a London billionaire. As Xavier Darling tells his general manager, Lizbet Keaton, their goal will be to get five out of five keys from Shelly Carpenter, an undercover hotel blogger who has not awarded top honors to any spot visited so far. A gorgeous remodel, a sterling staff, free treats in the minibar, and—of course, since this is Hilderbrand—an incredible restaurant where a disco ball drops from the ceiling every night at 9 p.m. and the chef is hotter than any dish on the menu are all in play as the first guests come streaming in. Which one is the hard-to-please Ms. Carpenter? Other addictive storylines include a rich kid cleaning rooms to expiate some mysterious, terrible thing he did this past spring, an evil beauty breaking up island marriages (instead of a gun in the drawer, there's a half-used Chanel eye shadow in Pourpre Brun), and the desperate attempts of Lizbet’s ex, who sexted with their wine rep, to win her back. One of the special services Lizbet creates for the guests of the Hotel Nantucket is a “Blue Book” containing all her recommended island itineraries. A real-life version is included as an appendix, giving the complete scoop on where to eat, drink, sunbathe, shop, and stay on the island, plus notes on which Hilderbrand novels happened where. If you’re ready to check out Chicken Box or to try the sandwiches on herb bread that lured the author to become a permanent island resident in 1993, the Elin Hilderbrand Bucket List Weekend really is a thing.

Honestly, who needs Nantucket. It could hardly be more fun than this book.

Pub Date: June 14, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-25867-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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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