A commendable procedural, with a superlative protagonist and supporting cast.

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A DEADLY RECOLLECTION

BULLETS FROM BROOKLYN

The case of a murdered professional killer prompts a Massachusetts cop to focus his investigation on the individuals who hired the assassin in this thriller.

Detective Lt. Bill Coine’s boss, John Desmond, sends him to Quincy Memorial Cemetery, the site of an apparent body dump. Lying in an open grave is an unidentified male victim. Based on the man’s gloves and accompanying high-quality gun with a silencer, Coine determines the victim was a professional hit man. Furthermore, there’s evidence he had been shooting at someone in the cemetery. Police later ID the man as Joe Buscada, a well-known, mob-affiliated assassin working out of Brooklyn. Coine suspects a link to another individual with mob ties: Boston bookie Harold “Smokey” Goldman, who recently died in a car wreck. The hunch pays off: A medical examiner’s discovery of a bullet hole indicates murder. It seems Buscada killed Goldman before his subsequent target managed to off the hit man. Interestingly, Coine finds a bevy of connections between Goldman and Dan Riley, an attorney who tried to prevent the medical examiner’s autopsy of the bookie. Riley may have been the other target, but he stays mum, even after he miraculously survives a second assassin’s bullet. While Desmond is dead set on proving Riley is Buscada’s killer, Coine starts looking for whoever hired the assassins. This is especially vital once it’s clear that hit man No. 2 still has Riley in his sights. With help from an old Army buddy at the FBI, Coine goes after the baddies he believes are calling the shots in Brooklyn. A prequel to Hanrahan’s (Downsized, 2017) preceding novel featuring Coine, this story follows his last case before retirement. As in the earlier book, the author excels at moving the perspective among an assortment of characters. Coine is a noteworthy protagonist; his deductions are quick (and believable) and he mentors novice trooper John Neiberg. But other characters stand out as well, from antagonistic and rather incompetent Lt. George Petruska to Dr. Rebecca White, who eventually befriends Riley. Hanrahan distinguishes the myriad characters primarily through memorable dialogue: Coine has a catchword (“Bingo!”) and the Brooklyn villains sport a discernible lilt (“Hey walyo, dat’s no way to tawk to your big brudder”). Regarding plot, there isn’t much mystery, at least for readers. For example, an early scene reveals Goldman’s death as murder while the assassination attempt at the cemetery is likewise no secret. But Coine’s meticulous investigation is engrossing, including steps such as the detective fighting for a judge to pass a Motion for Autopsy. It aptly displays the cop’s resolve, which never wavers. The story is furthered enhanced by Riley’s part in the case; he employs legal wrangling in a bid to ensnare the at-large hit man. That villain is an unmitigated menace who, following his failed assassination attempt, continues to target Riley more for “a score to settle” than financial compensation. The denouement, though not entirely surprising, entails a satisfying wrap-up. While readers will surely keep their eyes out for a Coine sequel (or another prequel), the return of other characters would be just as welcome.

A commendable procedural, with a superlative protagonist and supporting cast.

Pub Date: March 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5432-4925-5

Page Count: 328

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

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A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

A WEEK AT THE SHORE

A middle-aged woman returns to her childhood home to care for her ailing father, confronting many painful secrets from her past.

When Mallory Aldiss gets a call from a long-ago boyfriend telling her that her elderly father has been gallivanting around town with a gun in his hand, Mallory decides it’s time to return to the small Rhode Island town that she’s been avoiding for more than a decade. Mallory’s precocious 13-year-old daughter, Joy, is thrilled that she'll get to meet her grandfather at long last, and an aunt, too, and she'll finally see the place where her mother grew up. When they arrive in Bay Bluff, it’s barely a few hours before Mallory bumps into her old flame, Jack, the only man she’s ever really loved. Gone is the rebellious young person she remembers, and in his place stands a compassionate, accomplished adult. As they try to reconnect, Mallory realizes that the same obstacle that pushed them apart decades earlier is still standing in their way: Jack blames Mallory’s father for his mother’s death. No one knows exactly how Jack’s mother died, but Jack thinks a love affair between her and Mallory’s father had something to do with it. As Jack and Mallory chase down answers, Mallory also tries to repair her rocky relationships with her two sisters and determine why her father has always been so hard on her. Told entirely from Mallory’s perspective, the novel has a haunting, nostalgic quality. Despite the complex and overlapping layers to the history of Bay Bluff and its inhabitants, the book at times trudges too slowly through Mallory’s meanderings down Memory Lane. Even so, Delinsky sometimes manages to pick up the pace, and in those moments the beauty and nuance of this complicated family tale shine through. Readers who don’t mind skimming past details that do little to advance the plot may find that the juicier nuggets and realistically rendered human connections are worth the effort.

A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11951-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

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THE GIVER OF STARS

Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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