An uneven but engrossing page-turner.

PARIS NEVER LEAVES YOU

Nothing is quite what it seems in this historical novel set in occupied Paris during World War II and the New York publishing world of the 1950s.

Charlotte Foret, a young widow with an 18-month-old daughter, runs a bookstore in Nazi-controlled Paris. Her husband has been killed in the war; her father, a left-wing publisher, is on the run. Food is scarce while the fear of arrest and deportation to a concentration camp is constant. A polite German officer becomes a regular at the store, browsing and occasionally buying a volume. Charlotte is disturbed by his presence and tries to ignore him. But when he turns up one day with an orange for her hungry child, things begin to change. Intercut throughout are scenes from Charlotte’s life in Manhattan a decade later. With the help of Horace Field—a prominent publisher who knew her father—and Horace’s wife, Hannah, Charlotte and daughter Vivi have made a fresh start. Charlotte works as an editor for Horace while Vivi, now 14, is a lively, inquisitive scholarship student. Horace is confined to a wheelchair from wounds suffered in the war; nonetheless, he begins to display a more than mentorlike interest in Charlotte. Complications ensue. It’s hard to get your bearings in the novel’s awkward beginning pages. But author Feldman soon regains control, and the narrative proceeds at a brisk pace. There are multiple revelations: All the major players have something to hide. Though some of their secrets are a bit improbable—leaving the reader feeling intentionally misled—it doesn’t much matter. The story is involving, and the big-ticket themes—having to do with loyalty, betrayal, and what it takes to survive—are mostly handled in a graceful, nuanced way (though Charlotte’s guilt does feel overblown). Wartime Paris is described in vivid, sometimes harrowing, detail.

An uneven but engrossing page-turner.

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-62277-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

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THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME

When a devoted husband and father disappears, his wife and daughter set out to find him.

Hannah Hall is deeply in love with her husband of one year, Owen Michaels. She’s also determined to win over his 16-year-old daughter, Bailey, who has made it very clear that she’s not thrilled with her new stepmother. Despite the drama, the family is mostly a happy one. They live in a lovely houseboat in Sausalito; Hannah is a woodturner whose handmade furniture brings in high-dollar clientele; and Owen works for The Shop, a successful tech firm. Their lives are shattered, however, when Hannah receives a note saying “Protect her” and can’t reach Owen by phone. Then there’s the bag full of cash Bailey finds in her school locker and the shocking news that The Shop’s CEO has been taken into custody. Hannah learns that the FBI has been investigating the firm for about a year regarding some hot new software they took to market before it was fully functional, falsifying their financial statements. Hannah refuses to believe her husband is involved in the fraud, and a U.S. marshal assigned to the case claims Owen isn’t a suspect. Hannah doesn’t know whom to trust, though, and she and Bailey resolve to root out the clues that might lead to Owen. They must also learn to trust one another. Hannah’s narrative alternates past and present, detailing her early days with Owen alongside her current hunt for him, and author Dave throws in a touch of danger and a few surprises. But what really drives the story is the evolving nature of Hannah and Bailey’s relationship, which is by turns poignant and frustrating but always realistic.

Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7134-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

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THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE

In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8272-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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