Leviant’s quirky blend of irreverence, exuberance, and sobering history ultimately makes for a ragtag novel in which the...

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KING OF YIDDISH

In what is decidedly not a typical Holocaust-themed book, a renowned Yiddish scholar struggles with an ailing wife, her changeable young successor, and his own decadeslong effort to avenge murders committed in a post–World War II pogrom.

At age 70, Shmulik Gafni stirs up gossip among his colleagues at the University of Israel and much of Jerusalem that he is “involved, invalved, invulved with a blonde, full-chested, slim-waisted Polish Catholic shikse” half his age. This bombshell, figurative and full-figured, drops only after many digressions in the three sentences totaling more than 2,000 words that open Leviant’s (Zix Zexy Ztories, 2012, etc.) ninth work of fiction. The quote and logorrhea say much about the novel, which is full of detours and persistent punning, verbal verve and self-indulgence. A descendant of Mozart the size of a pecan owns a Vienna cafe. A group of elderly Jews in Warsaw achieves immortality. An eminent scholar forges author autographs in old university library books. And the author makes a cameo—among other intrusions—as the undisguised translator of S.Y. Agnon, C. Urtl Eviant. Inventive, with a touch of magic realism and a dollop of plain silly, Leviant is the sort of compulsive entertainer who may leave his audience wanting less. But he can cut the levity when the moment demands it: with the death of Gafni’s wife, in the rapid souring of his marriage to the shiksa, and especially as he seems near his goal of finding the man who killed his father and uncle. They were Holocaust survivors whose deaths Gafni witnessed some 50 years earlier during the July 4, 1946 pogrom in Kielce, Poland—an actual atrocity.

Leviant’s quirky blend of irreverence, exuberance, and sobering history ultimately makes for a ragtag novel in which the author is clearly having a lot of fun—maybe more than the reader.

Pub Date: Dec. 30, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60489-160-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Livingston Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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Another success for the publishing phenom.

UNDER CURRENTS

An abused boy fights back, escapes, then returns as an attorney to his beloved hometown, but just as he’s falling in love with a transplanted landscaper, a series of attacks from shadowy enemies jeopardizes their happiness.

“From the outside, the house in Lakeview Terrace looked perfect.” Which of course means that it wasn't. We're introduced to the horrifying Dr. Graham Bigelow, who beats his wife and, increasingly as the boy gets older, his son, Zane. On the night of Zane’s prom, a particularly savage attack puts him and his sister in the hospital, and his father blames Zane, landing him in jail. Then his sister stands up for him, enlisting the aid of their aunt, and everything changes, mainly due to Zane’s secret diaries. Nearly 20 years later, Zane leaves a successful career as a lawyer to return to Lakeview, where his aunt and sister live with their families, deciding to hang a shingle as a small-town lawyer. Then he meets Darby McCray, the landscaper who’s recently relocated and taken the town by storm, starting with the transformation of his family’s rental bungalows. The two are instantly intrigued by each other, but they move slowly into a relationship neither is looking for. Darby has a violent past of her own, so she is more than willing to take on the risk of antagonizing a boorish local family when she and Zane help an abused wife. Suddenly Zane and Darby face one attack after another, and even as they grow ever closer under the pressure, the dangers become more insidious. Roberts’ latest title feels a little long and the story is slightly cumbersome, but her greatest strength is in making the reader feel connected to her characters, so “unnecessary details” can also charm and engage.

Another success for the publishing phenom.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-20709-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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A romantic suspense that skillfully balances both elements.

THE DECEPTION

A successful businesswoman hires a smooth-talking bounty hunter to find a lead on her sister’s murder.

Kate Gallagher was the only one available to identify her younger sister Chrissy’s body after she was found dead, having run away from home two years earlier. Since Chrissy succumbed to drugs and turned to sex work to survive, her murder isn't taken seriously by the local homicide department. Kate is filled with grief and regret at not having been there for her sister, and she’s determined to find her killer as a kind of penance. Jason Maddox is the charming man Kate almost hooked up with at a local bar. He also happens to be on the payroll of the most successful investigation company in Dallas. He’s all too eager to help Kate out and spend more time getting to know the blonde he danced with at the Sagebrush Saloon. At first, Kate and Jason vow to keep things professional until the case is solved; there’s obvious attraction that they’re willing to pursue at a later date. But the increasing sense of danger mixed with Kate and Jason’s close proximity proves to be too heady of a combination. The tension never lets up as the pair visit seedy bars and interrogate unsavory characters. With a steamy romance and undeniably hot chemistry, the main characters are well matched. They’re both driven, slightly stubborn, and enjoy the adrenaline rush of catching criminals. Martin (The Conspiracy, 2019, etc.) doesn’t skimp on graphic, violent details as Chrissy’s murder leads her couple to something much bigger: human trafficking. Though not for the faint of heart given its weighty material, this is an un-put-down-able page-turner that’s sure to satisfy fans of romance and thrillers alike.

A romantic suspense that skillfully balances both elements.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-335-00769-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harlequin HQN

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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