A crackerjack read from an author who seems to have taken Elmore Leonard’s rules of writing to heart.


Two getaway drivers from different crews are thrown together when a bank heist goes wrong in Savage’s debut novel.

Richie Glass of Beverly Hills, California, has squandered his money and privilege and is now a “drinker, gambler, antiauthoritarian, [and] smart-ass” in debt to the wrong people. Now, he works as a getaway driver for “a bunch of shit-for-brains bank robbers,” as he puts it. Calvin Russell is a professional carjacker and thief, much to the displeasure of his wife, who’s afraid that the criminal life will affect their young son. The only thing Richie and Calvin have in common—besides being in desperate straits—is that they’re both separately waiting outside the American Federal Bank while, inside, two crews are bent on robbing the place. Eight robbers wind up dead, leaving Richie and Calvin at large, and the people pulling the strings on the labyrinthine plan very much want what they have—which includes not only cash, but also a box of gold and silver coins. As the two drivers get themselves in deeper, their initially antagonistic relationship transforms into something like a friendship, and they’re forced to rely on each other when things break very bad. Overall, Savage delivers a credible and entertaining crime novel. Richie and Calvin’s relationship is sometimes reminiscent of that of hit men Vincent and Jules from the 1994 film Pulp Fiction, particularly in a dialogue exchange following a seemingly miraculous escape from certain death. The author has a lean, spare prose style: “Luke Stanton, the middle aged CPA who met a gangster in a bar and thought he could jump ahead by going into business with him, fell to the floor and moaned.” Although the plot about two screw-ups who “only made bad choices” certainly isn’t novel, Savage offers fresh wrinkles on noir tropes and has a welcome, mordant sense of humor. For example, at one point, a character comments to Richie and Calvin about how well an operation is going: “Yeah, well, you haven’t been hanging out with us very long,” Richie responds. “Don’t get too comfortable.”

A crackerjack read from an author who seems to have taken Elmore Leonard’s rules of writing to heart.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: 311

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.


Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable...


An unlucky woman finally gets lucky in love on an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii.

From getting her hand stuck in a claw machine at age 6 to losing her job, Olive Torres has never felt that luck was on her side. But her fortune changes when she scores a free vacation after her identical twin sister and new brother-in-law get food poisoning at their wedding buffet and are too sick to go on their honeymoon. The only catch is that she’ll have to share the honeymoon suite with her least favorite person—Ethan Thomas, the brother of the groom. To make matters worse, Olive’s new boss and Ethan’s ex-girlfriend show up in Hawaii, forcing them both to pretend to be newlyweds so they don’t blow their cover, as their all-inclusive vacation package is nontransferable and in her sister’s name. Plus, Ethan really wants to save face in front of his ex. The story is told almost exclusively from Olive’s point of view, filtering all communication through her cynical lens until Ethan can win her over (and finally have his say in the epilogue). To get to the happily-ever-after, Ethan doesn’t have to prove to Olive that he can be a better man, only that he was never the jerk she thought he was—for instance, when she thought he was judging her for eating cheese curds, maybe he was actually thinking of asking her out. Blending witty banter with healthy adult communication, the fake newlyweds have real chemistry as they talk it out over snorkeling trips, couples massages, and a few too many tropical drinks to get to the truth—that they’re crazy about each other.

Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable as well as free.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2803-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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