A measured but engrossing story overloaded with religious discourse.

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A TWINKLE IN THE EYES OF GOD

From the Monk Buttman Mystery series , Vol. 2

Helping his daughter track down her missing husband, a California man revisits his complicated past in Pearce’s (Where Fools Dare To Tread, 2019) second installment of his thriller series. 

Monk Buttman has strained relationships with multiple family members, including his nearly 30-year-old daughter, Rebekah. So he’s surprised when she calls him, concerned about her husband, Farrell. Monk flies to Virginia with his girlfriend, Agnes, and quickly learns that Farrell is gone. Evidently, he wanted to join a mysterious church. The father-and-daughter team learn that a couple of congregation members who had wanted to leave committed suicide. Rebekah questions their deaths and cryptically mentions someone called “the Angel,” who may have scared Farrell into fleeing. Monk’s search for Farrell leads him, Agnes, and Rebekah west through various states. Along the way, Monk encounters some of his estranged family: his religious mother; his commune-running father; and his ex-wife (and Rebekah’s mom), Astral. The trip ultimately prompts scrutiny—primarily from Rebekah—about Monk’s Christian faith, or lack thereof. As the hunt for Farrell continues, it turns dangerous. Ties to a murder-suicide lead to more homicides and threats against Monk, Agnes, and Rebekah. Pearce proficiently manages abundant characters, whose relationships anchor the story. They often argue at length about religion, which has the unfortunate effect of sidelining the storytelling. These recurrent discussions, however, astutely connect Monk’s past with his current task of finding Farrell. The flawed hero earns some points by admitting his mistakes. His disloyalty to Agnes, however, makes him nearly unlikable. There’s not much on the mystery front, and when Monk stumbles upon several bodies, he remains peculiarly blasé. Nevertheless, the thriller conveys a general sense of dread, as readers know from the opening scene, that one character is doomed.

A measured but engrossing story overloaded with religious discourse.

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68433-413-1

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2020

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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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