Entertaining, humorous, exhilarating, and featuring impressive characters, this legal thriller turns out to be a winner.

GIRL WITH EGG BASKET

A law professor gets caught up in intrigue connected with a campus shooter and Nazi-looted art in this debut novel.

Nell Hatley—a 30-something professor at Coppersmith University Law School, near Cincinnati, in her tenure year—arrives late to a faculty meeting and to mayhem: a gun-wielding woman pushes her way inside and starts firing. Nell heroically tackles the shooter, getting a kick in the head. One professor, Lawrence McIntosh, is shot dead and another, Hardik Gruziet, grazed by Marlyse Revinson, a first-year law student whom Nell vaguely remembers. Disturbingly, a handwritten note in Revinson’s pocket bears three names: McIntosh, Gruziet—and Hatley. The investigation soon starts looking fishy: though failing grades are blamed for Revinson’s breakdown, Nell knows she entered a B grade—which mysteriously became an F. And why was McIntosh brought in as an expert witness on an art theft case, not his specialty? And who is responsible for torpedoing Nell’s tenure chances? At the center of the mystery is a Monet painting, Girl with Egg Basket, once owned by the Rosenthals and stolen by Nazis. Nell investigates with help from her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Luca Giardano, a rising star at a Washington, D.C., law firm, and the Mouse, Luca’s wickedly smart paralegal (and a formidable young woman). As Nell and her allies get closer to the truth, the story builds to a dangerous confrontation. In his thriller, Crane (Antitrust [Aspen Treatise], 2014, etc.), a law professor at the University of Michigan, proves an able storyteller, mixing humor, suspense, and a little romance, plus history, travel, well-explained legal issues, and a fine appreciation for university politics. His characters are well-rounded, and the Mouse—a law school dropout with great resources—is an especially delightful creation, fun to watch as she adopts various personae to winkle out information. Nell’s memories of a childhood friend, in whose tragedy she feels guiltily complicit, gives her compassion for Revinson and drives her determination to uncover the truth. This, along with serious matters of theft and murder, helps balance the book’s often comic tone. Nicely done.

Entertaining, humorous, exhilarating, and featuring impressive characters, this legal thriller turns out to be a winner.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 377

Publisher: DartFrog Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 31, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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

THEN SHE WAS GONE

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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A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

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RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE

The much-loved royal romance genre gets a fun and refreshing update in McQuiston’s debut.

Alex Claremont-Diaz, son of the American President Ellen Claremont, knows one thing for sure: He hates Henry, the British prince to whom he is always compared. He lives for their verbal sparring matches, but when one of their fights at a royal wedding goes a bit too far, they end up falling into a wedding cake and making tabloid headlines. An international scandal could ruin Alex’s mother’s chances for re-election, so it’s time for damage control. The plan? Alex and Henry must pretend to be best friends, giving the tabloids pictures of their bromance and neutralizing the threat to Ellen's presidency. But after a few photo ops with Henry, Alex starts to realize that the passionate anger he feels toward him might be a cover for regular old passion. There are, naturally, a million roadblocks between their first kiss and their happily-ever-after—how can American political royalty and actual British royalty ever be together? How can they navigate being open about their sexualities (Alex is bisexual; Henry is gay) in their very public and very scrutinized roles? Alex and Henry must decide if they’ll risk their futures, their families, and their careers to take a chance on happiness. Although the story’s premise might be a fantasy—it takes place in a world in which a divorced-mom Texan Democrat won the 2016 election—the emotions are all real. The love affair between Alex and Henry is intense and romantic, made all the more so by the inclusion of their poetic emails that manage to be both funny and steamy. McQuiston’s strength is in dialogue; her characters speak in hilarious rapid-fire bursts with plenty of “likes,” “ums,” creative punctuation, and pop-culture references, sounding like smarter, funnier versions of real people. Although Alex and Henry’s relationship is the heart of the story, their friends and family members are all rich, well-drawn characters, and their respective worlds feel both realistic and larger-than-life.

A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-31677-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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