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An engrossing mystery with a haunting and convincing conclusion.

In the Arab Abbasid caliphate of Harun al-Rashid in Baghdad, 14-year-old Nardeen Baramika seeks revenge on the man responsible for her family’s deaths in this novel from Algeria, translated from Arabic.

Having fallen out of favor, the once-powerful noble Baramika family, who are Muslims of Persian origin, are being hunted down and executed by al-Rashid. But when the caliph’s men discover the family’s new home, Nardeen’s nonpolitical father—a physician and transcriber of medical texts—sends a confused Nardeen outside to safety, promising to follow with the rest of the family. After returning to find Baba, Mama, and her three siblings murdered and branded as Zoroastrian apostates implicated in poisoning the caliph’s cousin, Nardeen is beaten unconscious by a servant of Al-Aasefi, a family friend turned accuser, who’s seeking a manuscript Nardeen saw in Baba’s library. After she comes to in the Bimaristan medical school, Nardeen learns she’s slated to be sold into slavery, but she impresses Muallim Ishaq, a respected and renowned Jewish medical professor, with her strong memory and medical knowledge. The professor, who respected Nardeen’s father and feels sorry for her plight, buys her and helps her prepare to seek vengeance. But as Nardeen grows in knowledge and cunning, she finds herself running out of time to untangle the complicated truth. Morani weaves a compact and compelling tale of revenge, intrigue, and moral ambiguity with a fascinating historical setting.

An engrossing mystery with a haunting and convincing conclusion. (map, glossary, historical notes) (Historical mystery. 13-18)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9781911107859

Page Count: 140

Publisher: Neem Tree Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

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Readers will be captivated by this twisty thriller and its uncompromising protagonist.

The mother Annabel Price thought was dead returns with a story about where she’s been—but 18-year-old Bel knows she’s lying.

Ever since Rachel Price’s unexplained disappearance 16 years ago, true-crime fans have come up with plentiful theories about what happened. Bel and her family members, who are white, cobbled together lives for themselves after a jury found Bel’s father, Charlie, not guilty of murdering his wife. Beset with medical bills for his elderly father, Charlie recently agreed to participate in a documentary about the unsolved mystery. Black British filmmaker Ramsey Lee is well into the process of interviewing the Prices when his project gets an unanticipated boost after an exhausted, disheveled Rachel staggers back into town. Rachel is eager to resume her role in the family, but the inconsistencies in her accounts raise alarms for Bel. With the help of the youngest member of the filmmaking team, Bel sets out to learn what really happened. Along the way, someone else disappears, and Bel uncovers a tangle of lies that make it impossible for her to trust people she thought she knew. When things come to a head the night of her grandfather’s 85th birthday party, Bel ends up in a race for her life. The last quarter of the novel tears along at a breakneck pace before arriving at a satisfying and unexpected conclusion.

Readers will be captivated by this twisty thriller and its uncompromising protagonist. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 2, 2024

ISBN: 9780593374207

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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From the Liar's Beach series , Vol. 1

This scorching glimpse of life (and death) among the moneyed classes hits its marks, if a bit mechanically.

A summertime stay on Martha’s Vineyard confirms everything Linden thinks about rich people.

Best known for emotional YA romances, Cotugno tries her hand at an emotional whodunit—and readers who can roll with the weird attraction her protagonist seems to exert on the two main young women here may find themselves caught up in an engrossing whirl of, as the title promises, lies, secrets, and louche living. Hardly has he arrived for a two-week stay at palatial August House than Michael Linden and his host and boarding school roommate Jasper’s twin sister, Eliza, are bedroom-bound; his ghosted former platonic friend Holiday turns up; and Greg, despised boyfriend of another houseguest, winds up in a coma after an apparent accident. Dragged along by Holiday, who, along with inexplicably letting bygones be bygones, turns out to be an enthusiastic amateur sleuth, scholarship student Linden finds plenty of fuel for his (supposedly) secret resentment of the privileged classes and the way they can get away with anything. Though not, as it turns out after a comfortably conventional denouement complete with surprise confession, murder. Also, as a tease at the end suggests, for all that he comes clean about several secrets of his own, Linden leads the pack in the “things to hide” department. Aside from one prominent supporting character—a brown-skinned lacrosse champion—the central cast reads White.

This scorching glimpse of life (and death) among the moneyed classes hits its marks, if a bit mechanically. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9780593433287

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023

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