An engrossing story about a clash of cultures and the extremities of faith.

TRULY LIKE LIGHTNING

A deeply religious and pious family of Latter-day Saints finds their world upended when a corrupt real estate company targets their land.

Duchovny is best known for his idiosyncratic roles in The X-Files and Californication, and he has a wildly unpredictable voice as a writer. Here he offers a dramatic parable involving trespasses against others and the dire consequences that follow. The patriarch of the family is Bronson Powers, who, two decades earlier, was an over-the-hill stuntman with a growing opioid addiction. His fortune changes when a relative dies, leaving him a huge but desolate property in the desert near Joshua Tree—with one caveat: Bronson must convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Now, in the present, Powers is deeply devout, with two wives, Mary and Yalulah, 10 children, and a few members of the clan already in the ground. The family is completely cut off from civilization, living primarily off the land. The triggering conflict comes when 27-year-old Maya Abbadessa, an ambitious executive with a deeply corrupt investment firm, stumbles across the property and realizes it’s worth millions. To nudge Bronson into selling, the firm recruits Child Protective Services to force the family to send the older children to public school. It’s a troublesome but interesting journey for Deuce, Hyrum, and Pearl. Deuce becomes an ace student, Pearl vacillates between drug-fueled rebellion and a burgeoning interest in theater, and Hyrum furiously fights everybody and anybody who messes with him or his siblings. It’s a lot to take in: Bronson not only feels invaded, but his struggle with his faith and his relationships with his wives and children are unsettling. Maya grapples with her conscience while the kids find themselves strangers in a strange land. It’s a heady mix of philosophy, faith, family drama, and violence, but Duchovny’s characteristically nimble prose not only connects the various narratives, but exposes the complicated humanity of his multifarious cast.

An engrossing story about a clash of cultures and the extremities of faith.

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-3742-7774-1

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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