A complex and intimate meditation on love, guilt, and the decisions that haunt us forever.

HADES, ARGENTINA

After a decade abroad, a refugee of Argentina’s Dirty War returns to Buenos Aires, where ghosts of his past guide him through a nightmarish labyrinth of memory, guilt, and loss.

In 1976, Tomás Orilla disappeared from Argentina without a trace, smuggled out by his childhood mentor, the Colonel, after coming dangerously close to death at the hands of the oppressive military junta. Now, 10 years later, he is Thomas Shore, a translator in New York City who is haunted by the traumas of the past and contending with a failing marriage. The impending death of Pichuca, an old family friend, occasions his return to Buenos Aires, where he moved as a teenager under the pretense of attending medical school, though his true motive was to be closer to Pichuca’s daughter, Isabel, a spirited and fiery young woman whom he loved since childhood. But the city Tomás returns to is riddled with ghosts: the ghosts of Isabel and the Colonel, the ghosts of the disappeared and the ghosts of their captors, the ghost of the young man he once was. With the Colonel’s spirit as his guide, Tomás returns to the sites containing all his darkest memories and his most profound regrets, and the boundary between the present and the past becomes increasingly indistinct. Back in 1976, Isabel, who is involved with a leftist insurgent group, exploits Tomás’ devotion to her and requests that he work for her as a double agent, launching a sequence of events that compromises his life: spying on the Colonel and finding employment at a concentration camp for dissidents. However, this is less a tour through memory than a reckoning, as Tomás struggles to identify the discrete choices he would need to undo to prevent Isabel’s disappearance and to save himself from the nightmare of his past.

A complex and intimate meditation on love, guilt, and the decisions that haunt us forever.

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-18864-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME

When a devoted husband and father disappears, his wife and daughter set out to find him.

Hannah Hall is deeply in love with her husband of one year, Owen Michaels. She’s also determined to win over his 16-year-old daughter, Bailey, who has made it very clear that she’s not thrilled with her new stepmother. Despite the drama, the family is mostly a happy one. They live in a lovely houseboat in Sausalito; Hannah is a woodturner whose handmade furniture brings in high-dollar clientele; and Owen works for The Shop, a successful tech firm. Their lives are shattered, however, when Hannah receives a note saying “Protect her” and can’t reach Owen by phone. Then there’s the bag full of cash Bailey finds in her school locker and the shocking news that The Shop’s CEO has been taken into custody. Hannah learns that the FBI has been investigating the firm for about a year regarding some hot new software they took to market before it was fully functional, falsifying their financial statements. Hannah refuses to believe her husband is involved in the fraud, and a U.S. marshal assigned to the case claims Owen isn’t a suspect. Hannah doesn’t know whom to trust, though, and she and Bailey resolve to root out the clues that might lead to Owen. They must also learn to trust one another. Hannah’s narrative alternates past and present, detailing her early days with Owen alongside her current hunt for him, and author Dave throws in a touch of danger and a few surprises. But what really drives the story is the evolving nature of Hannah and Bailey’s relationship, which is by turns poignant and frustrating but always realistic.

Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7134-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

THE FOUR WINDS

The miseries of the Depression and Dust Bowl years shape the destiny of a Texas family.

“Hope is a coin I carry: an American penny, given to me by a man I came to love. There were times in my journey when I felt as if that penny and the hope it represented were the only things that kept me going.” We meet Elsa Wolcott in Dalhart, Texas, in 1921, on the eve of her 25th birthday, and wind up with her in California in 1936 in a saga of almost unrelieved woe. Despised by her shallow parents and sisters for being sickly and unattractive—“too tall, too thin, too pale, too unsure of herself”—Elsa escapes their cruelty when a single night of abandon leads to pregnancy and forced marriage to the son of Italian immigrant farmers. Though she finds some joy working the land, tending the animals, and learning her way around Mama Rose's kitchen, her marriage is never happy, the pleasures of early motherhood are brief, and soon the disastrous droughts of the 1930s drive all the farmers of the area to despair and starvation. Elsa's search for a better life for her children takes them out west to California, where things turn out to be even worse. While she never overcomes her low self-esteem about her looks, Elsa displays an iron core of character and courage as she faces dust storms, floods, hunger riots, homelessness, poverty, the misery of migrant labor, bigotry, union busting, violent goons, and more. The pedantic aims of the novel are hard to ignore as Hannah embodies her history lesson in what feels like a series of sepia-toned postcards depicting melodramatic scenes and clichéd emotions.

For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2501-7860-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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