This promising first novel takes readers onto the catwalk while skillfully maintaining suspense.

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SHADOW CRIMES

A debut thriller examines the dark underside of the glamorous modeling world.

This tale, set in 1978, introduces readers to naïve Anna McKenna. Anna lost both of her parents at an early age. When Anna was 7, her Italian American mother, Gina, was fatally hit by a truck. Anna’s hard-drinking, Irish American father, Patrick, died of a heart attack two years later. She ends up living with her mother’s parents, Maria and Carmelo Gallo, along with her younger brother, Joey, born prematurely on the day of Gina’s death. Joey suffers from numerous medical problems, including “learning issues” and bad eyesight. Then Natasha Burns, owner of Top Form Management, pulls into the Gallos’ farm stand. She is taken by lovely 18-year-old Anna, with her red hair and emerald eyes. Natasha returns to recruit Anna as a model for her agency. Anna moves into Natasha’s New York City town house, where she lives with other fledgling models. But while Anna is learning the ups and downs of modeling in New York, then Milan, something sinister is happening in the background. A killer is stalking models, including Anna’s friend Petra. Anna’s Uncle Mickey, a detective, inserts himself in to the case. Even though modeling seems glitzy and alluring, the novel deftly describes its downside through Anna: “Many days were spent schlepping around New York City” with a heavy bag “filled with her portfolio, makeup, shoes, and sometimes even a wardrobe.” The protagonist’s work ethic serves her well when it comes to avoiding the pitfalls of her industry. A model’s social life then offered many obstacles, including predatory men and free-flowing drugs and alcohol, especially at clubs like the famed disco Studio 54. A former model, Moran draws on her own experiences to create a likable protagonist. The author does a masterful job illustrating how short-lived models’ careers are, during which beautiful people must make a name and a fortune quickly before their “look” goes out of fashion. Unfortunately, the whodunit portion of the thriller gets shorter shrift: Mickey and New York City Detective Frank Tansey lock onto a suspect fairly early. But Moran does throw in a nifty twist in the end. Still, there’s plenty here that will please mystery and modeling fans alike.

This promising first novel takes readers onto the catwalk while skillfully maintaining suspense.

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9995235-0-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Tree Lane Press

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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