Not nothing, but it could have really been something.

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SOMETHING FOR NOTHING

In Anthony's debut, a high-living 1970s aircraft salesman tries to clear his mounting debts by piloting heroin into California from Mexico.

The oil embargo of 1973-74 is especially devastating for Martin Anderson, bon vivant. Emboldened by profits, he's moved his family into an expensive Bay Area suburb and acquired expensive hobbies and baubles: cabin cruiser, racehorse, cabin in Tahoe, big Cadillac. Now he's not only overstretched financially, but his family life is souring, too. His junior-high daughter has been experimenting with pot; his 9-year-old son is sending baffling, aggressive typed notes to classmates: "JESUS HATES YOU." Martin is mired in ever deeper debt, and when his horse trainer, Val, offers a chance to have $40,000 forgiven and earn $5,000 a trip by making night flights as an amateur smuggler, he jumps. As anyone who's ever seen a ’70s detective show or read the scores of similar novels knows, this is a Doomed Idea, drug-dealing thugs being what they are. Things quickly devolve. A narcotics detective starts snooping around, enlisting Martin's aid in a supposedly unrelated case; then Martin accidentally estranges himself from his wife, and she takes off with the kids (the half that's NOT an accident has less to do with Martin's needs than with the plot's; it won't do to have Martin's innocent family around when the mayhem begins). Soon thereafter, Val and his wife are brutally murdered, Martin finds himself with a big cache of drug money and we're set up for a bloody denouement. Where this book exceeds the expectations of its formula is in the finesse and wit with which Anthony handles both the setting and the swaggering, self-absorbed but often likable protagonist—he captures the ethos of the '70s and the soul of sad-sack Martin admirably, and the links to our own time are compelling. But the plot seems contrived and familiar.

Not nothing, but it could have really been something.

Pub Date: June 7, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-61620-022-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2011

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A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

GHOSTED

In Walsh’s American debut, a woman desperately tries to find out why the man she spent a whirlwind week with never called.

Sarah has just separated from her American husband and is visiting her hometown in England when she meets Eddie. He’s kind and charming, and although they only spend one week together, she falls in love. When he has to leave for a trip, she knows they’ll keep in touch—they’re already making plans for the rest of their lives. But then Eddie never calls, and Sarah’s increasingly frantic efforts to contact him are fruitless. Is he hurt? Is he dead? As her friends tell her, there’s a far greater likelihood that he’s just blowing her off—she’s been ghosted. After trying to track Eddie down at a football game, Sarah starts to become ashamed of herself—after all, she’s almost 40 years old and she’s essentially stalking a man who never called her. But as Sarah slowly learns, she and Eddie didn’t actually meet randomly—they both have a connection to an accident that happened years ago, and it may have something to do with why he disappeared. The tension quickly amps up as the secrets of Eddie’s and Sarah’s pasts are revealed, and the truth behind their connection is genuinely surprising and heartbreaking. The barriers between Sarah and Eddie seem insurmountable at times, and although their issues are resolved in a tidy manner, the emotions behind their actions are always believable. Walsh has created a deeply moving romance with an intriguing mystery and a touching portrait of grief at its heart.

A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-52277-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

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THE STARLESS SEA

A withdrawn graduate student embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world in this long-anticipated follow-up to The Night Circus (2011).

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, and Zachary must decide whether to trust the handsome stranger he meets at a highflying literary fundraiser in New York or to retreat back to his thesis and forget the whole affair. In a high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary's adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories. There are pirates and weary travelers, painters who can see the future, lovers torn asunder, a menacing Owl King, and safe harbors for all the stories of the world, far below the Earth on the golden shores of a Starless Sea. Clocking in at more than 500 pages, the novel requires patience as Morgenstern puts all the pieces in place, but it is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail, right down to the ballroom stairs "festooned with lanterns and garlands of paper dipped in gold" or a cloak carved from ice with "ships and sailors and sea monsters...lost in the drifting snow." This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call.

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54121-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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