A quick, satisfying romantic mystery.

THE DOCTOR, THE CHEF OR THE FIREMAN

Fleeing an untrustworthy boyfriend, a woman moves from Richmond to Cory City, Virginia, and finds herself with new suitors and a small-town mystery on her hands in Lum’s (Plebeian Reborn, 2016, etc.) novel.

Kendra King, 26, is fearless and kindhearted, with a good moral compass. After discovering that her doctor boyfriend, Christopher Randall, has been involved in illegal activity, she leaves the city and rents an apartment in a small town an hour away. She moves to the same building as her good friends, engaged couple Davis Perkins and Susan Porter, and soon becomes acquainted with a third tenant—an irresistible firefighter named Matt Livingston who offers a welcome distraction from her troubles. He’s the perfect gentleman, but Nolan Ford, the chef at Seven Spoons Restaurant, is awfully charismatic as well, and he makes a mean blueberry pancake. Meanwhile, Lum seamlessly weaves in an account of the town’s underlying problems. For example, old man Ellis, Cory City’s beloved World War II veteran, has been uncharacteristically ill, and his visit to the local hospital reveals a waiting room overflowing with patients. Matt has been run ragged fixing the town’s busted fire hydrants, and the vines at the winery where Davis and Susan later swap vows are bone dry. Kendra and her friends suspect that the town’s elite, including the fire chief and mayor, are to blame for these issues, but only time and Kendra’s detective work will tell. Romance is at the forefront of this compact novel, but its mystery elements make it multidimensional. Lum is adept at creating suspense (What did Christopher do? Why is the town falling apart?) and maintains a rapid pace, culminating in an exciting night of undercover operations. Although the author relies on a few familiar tropes—Matt is late to a first date because he was rescuing a cat from a tree, for instance—she creates a fully believable world with fun inhabitants, such as Glen and Marvin, bickering middle-aged brothers with a permanent booth at Seven Spoons. Overall, readers will enjoy the novel’s lighthearted, funny narration, engaging plot, and likable characters.

A quick, satisfying romantic mystery.

Pub Date: April 17, 2017

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 172

Publisher: DKLit

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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