A bestseller in France and Spain, the publishers tell us, but the deluge of religious discourse is likely to swamp most US...


Theological thriller about a beautiful young archaeologist chasing a dream at Mont-Saint-Michel.

Johanna thinks of herself as a scientist—her credentials support that—but she is, as her colleagues suggest from time to time, rather off the wall in the matter of . . . the headless monk. He’s been her dream visitor for some 26 years, and it used to be that he scared the daylights out of her. Not anymore, her perspective having undergone a sudden shift, leading to a rosier view. Johanna and Headless connected first when, at the age of seven, her parents took her to see the famous church and abbey on that unlovely, rock-strewn isle off the French coast. Years later, once again at Mont-Saint-Michel, Johanna, brilliant medievalist that she is, begins to cobble together a scenario that will alter the direction of her life. Sketchy though the evidence may seem, it persuades Johanna that the dream figure is more than a dream, more than a ghost, less than human perhaps, but in some sense, real. Enter Brother Roman, a Benedictine monk who happens to have lived a thousand years ago. It’s he who has appeared to her, asking desperately for help, claims Johanna. You’re at war with your own unconscious, a skeptical lover insists, irritating her to no end. But to those who know her best, she seems obsessed at the very least—an obsession that has unhappy consequences, inciting some to violence and placing Johanna herself in a metaphysical pickle.

A bestseller in France and Spain, the publishers tell us, but the deluge of religious discourse is likely to swamp most US readers.

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2006

ISBN: 1-933648-06-6

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2006

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An engaging, well-researched, and sometimes thought-provoking art mystery.


A tale of two artists, living 78 years apart in a small Southern town, and the third artist who links them.

The fates of two white painters in Edenton, North Carolina, intertwine with the legacy of a third, that of Jesse Jameson Williams, a prominent African American artist with Edenton roots. In 2018, the recently deceased Jesse has left a very unusual will. In life, Jesse paid his success forward by helping underdog artists. Morgan Christopher, the last, posthumous recipient of Jesse’s largesse, can’t imagine why he chose her, a complete stranger who is doing time for an alcohol-related crash that left another driver paralyzed. Released on an early parole engineered by Jesse’s daughter, Lisa, Morgan will receive $50,000 to restore a mural painted by one Anna Dale in 1940 in time for a gallery opening on Aug. 5, 2018. If Morgan misses this deadline, not only is her deal off, but Lisa will, due to a puzzling, thinly motivated condition of Jesse’s will, lose her childhood home. In an alternating narrative, Anna, winner of a U.S. Treasury Department competition, has been sent from her native New Jersey to paint a mural for the Edenton post office. Anna has zero familiarity with the South, particularly with Jim Crow. She recognizes Jesse’s exceptional talent and mentors him, to the ire of Edenton’s white establishment. Martin Drapple, a local portraitist rejected in the competition, is at first a good sport, when he’s sober, until, somewhat too suddenly, he’s neither. Issues of addiction and mental illness are foremost in both past and present. Anna’s late mother had manic episodes. Morgan’s estranged parents are unrepentant boozers. And Anna’s mural of civic pride is decidedly strange. One of the strengths here is the creditable depiction of the painter’s process, in Anna’s case, and the restorer’s art, in Morgan’s. Despite the fraught circumstances challenging all three painters, conflict is lacking. The 1940 racial tensions are unrealistically mild, and Jesse’s testamentary testiness is not mined for its full stakes-raising potential.

An engaging, well-researched, and sometimes thought-provoking art mystery.

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-08733-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Nearly as many recipes as Joy of Cooking, and about as much narrative.


A baker helps solve her sister’s boyfriend’s classmate’s murder.

Hannah Swensen is suffering from stress due to a trauma incurred in her last adventure (Chocolate Cream Pie Murder, 2019) but alluded to only in the most elliptical terms in her current entry. Hannah’s stepfather, Doc Knight, is adamant: She must leave at once for vacation. He sends Hannah and her mom off to California for a stress-free holiday helping Hannah’s college friend Lynne Larchmont pack up her palatial home and move back to Lake Eden, Minnesota, where Hannah’s shop, The Cookie Jar, provides sweet treats for all. A New York minute after she arrives in Los Angeles, Hannah receives a hysterical call from her sister, Michelle. Michelle’s boyfriend, Lonnie, is the main suspect in the murder of Darcy Hicks, an old friend from high school. Since Lonnie is one of Lake Eden’s handful of police detectives, everyone else on the force is deemed ineligible to conduct the investigation, leaving only amateur sleuth Hannah to crack the case. Hannah moves back in, platonically of course, with her old flame Norman Rhodes, since her Lake Eden condo was the scene of that unspecified trauma and her husband, Ross Barton, has disappeared, or died, or maybe killed somebody—it’s not quite clear which. Hannah begins her investigation by checking out Brian and Cassie Polinski, who were with Darcy and Lonnie at the Double Eagle, a dive bar, the night of her death. But it’s hard for her inquiry to build up any steam because almost every chapter ends with copious directions for making another nifty treat, complete with tips on which brands to use, advice about where to buy the ingredients, and little anecdotes about the people who feast on the finished products.

Nearly as many recipes as Joy of Cooking, and about as much narrative.

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4967-1889-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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