A mild-mannered mystery with a moral quagmire at its heart.


Chamberlain’s tale of mid-1960s freedom fighters intersects with contemporary tragedy.

This is a novel of alternating timelines, each unspooling in or near Round Hill, a small town in North Carolina. In 2010, architect Kayla Carter is visited by Ann Smith, a “sixty-five or seventy”-year-old woman in mirrored sunglasses, who comes to her office seemingly intent on scaring her. Ann, a stranger, knows too much about Kayla, including that she has a small daughter, that she’s about to move into a new house in an upscale but isolated new development, and that it's a house she had intended to share with her husband, Jackson, who died of an accidental fall at the construction site. In 1965, 20-year-old Ellie Hockley, a student at the University of North Carolina, joins SCOPE, a summer project recruiting mostly White, Northern college students to help Black Southerners register to vote in anticipation of the passage of the Voting Rights Act. Ellie is the rare White Southern volunteer. Her father and mother are vehemently opposed, her brother, Buddy, somewhat less vehemently. Fatefully, Ellie is assigned to work with a SCOPE contingent operating in her home county. Early on, we learn Kayla’s new house is on Hockley Street, where Buddy still lives in the family home that once was the only house in this wooded area. It’s not long before past wrongs come home to roost. Ellie, now 65, returns after decades in San Francisco to care for her ailing brother and mother. The moment when Ellie, who at first warms to her new neighbor, realizes that Kayla is the daughter of Reed, the beau she forsook for the Civil Rights movement, is a classic Chamberlain complication. The plot will only get more complicated because, in contrast to a White rescue story, we find even well-meaning Whites endangering Black people. The forbidding, kudzu-choked forest, complete with a treehouse, a murky pond, and an ominous clearing, is ideal for a coverup that compromises even the most irreproachable characters.

A mild-mannered mystery with a moral quagmire at its heart.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-2502-6796-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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An alternately farcical and poignant look at family bonds.


When a family convenes at their Cape Cod summer home for a wedding, old secrets threaten to ruin everything.

Sarah Danhauser is shocked when her beloved stepdaughter announces her engagement to her boyfriend, Gabe. After all, Ruby’s only 22, and Sarah suspects that their relationship was fast-tracked because of the time they spent together in quarantine during the early days of the pandemic. Sarah’s mother, Veronica, is thrilled, mostly because she longs to have the entire family together for one last celebration before she puts their Cape Cod summer house on the market. But getting to Ruby and Gabe’s wedding might prove more difficult than anyone thought. Sarah can’t figure out why her husband, Eli, has been so distant and distracted ever since Ruby moved home to Park Slope (bringing Gabe with her), and she's afraid he may be having an affair. Veronica is afraid that a long-ago dalliance might come back to bite her. Ruby isn’t sure how to process the conflicting feelings she’s having about her upcoming nuptials. And Sam, Sarah’s twin brother, is a recent widower who’s dealing with some pretty big romantic confusion. As the entire extended family, along with Gabe’s relatives, converges on the summer house, secrets become impossible to keep, and it quickly becomes clear that this might not be the perfect gathering Veronica was envisioning. If they make it to the wedding, will their family survive the aftermath? Weiner creates a story with all the misunderstandings and miscommunications of a screwball comedy or a Shakespeare play (think A Midsummer Night’s Dream). But the surprising, over-the-top actions of the characters are grounded by a realistic and moving look at grief and ambition (particularly for Sarah and Veronica, both of whom give up demanding creative careers early on). At times the flashbacks can slow down the story, but even when the characters are lying, cheating, and hiding from each other, they still seem like a real and loving family.

An alternately farcical and poignant look at family bonds.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5011-3357-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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