A bold, largely successful launch of a series about family secrets and criminal enterprises.

ELEMENT OF SECRECY

A woman decides to get answers to the questions that have haunted her since childhood in this debut mystery.

When Jenny O’Rourke was just 10 years old, she heard her father leading a strange chant in the barn behind their small Pennsylvania farmhouse. Not long after, her brother, Danny, was dead, and her family escaped into the night. Twenty years later, she’s in the witness protection program, living under the name Tricia Keller. She’s finally put something of a life together—after a brief career in law and a short marriage, she’s now single and works as a pharmaceutical rep—but she’s risking it all by doing the thing she’s not supposed to do: “I’m absolutely forbidden to be sitting here in front of my childhood home. But here I am with two important mysteries to solve and a shit ton of minor league ones. First, who killed my brother? And why? Second, who—and what—the hell is my father?” She knows that before he moved his family to the obscure town of Brandtville, Pennsylvania, Sean O’Rourke was one of the top defense attorneys in Manhattan, a partner at a firm well known for representing embezzlers and mob bosses. Jenny assumes this job has something to do with the murder of Danny, but there are all sorts of strange things about her childhood in Brandtville: pictures of missing mobsters in the woods, odd symbols and graffiti, and her father’s former law partner, who wound up dead in a swimming hole. To conduct her investigation, Jenny will have to elude her witness protection escorts as well as the bodyguard her father keeps on her at all times. As she digs into the past, a few things soon become clear. First, Danny is still alive. Second, the story of what really happened back in Brandtville is far stranger than Jenny could ever have imagined—and it isn’t over yet.

Slawecki keeps the plot racing forward at full speed, and her prose is taut and gripping. At one point, Jenny muses: “What’s also disturbing is this whole modern-day vigilante thing. My father was a defense attorney. He knew his clients were bad people, especially those who went to that firm. No one forced him to get into that line of work. It’s why I stopped practicing after three cases.” The plot is booby-trapped with some pretty wonderful twists that will likely take even seasoned readers of the mystery genre by surprise. The book’s primary flaw is that its characters’ psychologies and personalities do not seem to match their personal histories. Jenny comes off as more devil-may-care than haunted, and her rapport with her now-living brother (whom she hasn’t seen since they were small children) is a bit too Hollywood smooth. Even so, the tale is fun and highly readable, making great use of its woodsy Bucks County setting. This is only the first installment of a series following Jenny, and readers will be excited to find out just how much weirder things will get.

A bold, largely successful launch of a series about family secrets and criminal enterprises.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Manuscript

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 100

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

IT ENDS WITH US

Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

more