A spirited, diverting thriller that’s marred only by some narrative repetition.


Love and Mayhem on The Sunny Isle of Jamaica

In Tate’s debut romantic thriller, the way out for a woman being obsessively pursued by dangerous men may lie in uncovering her mother’s mysterious past.

Now that Drulietta Van Hamilton has inherited her late father’s vast estate, she’s getting noticed by a number of men. That’s not a problem when the attention’s coming from Chad, a doctor just hired at the nearby hospital who falls for the young woman. But most of the men are either aggressive or outright menaces: Her cousin, Justin, believes he’s entitled to the estate, where he also resides; Chad’s father, Beckley, chases Dru when she refuses his advances; and marijuana traffickers kidnap her for ransom. Dru realizes that they’re enchanted by her since she’s the spitting image of her mother, Caroline, who died after giving birth to Dru and her now-dead twin sister, Drucilla. Dru delves into Caroline’s history to reveal why the infatuated men refer to both mother and daughter by a word she’s unfamiliar with—“Willoweens”—and why Dru’s son, Delamar, is in the same amount of jeopardy as his mom. Tate spins a wickedly fun web in establishing her plot, with gleefully intricate links among the characters; upon hearing that his mother knew Caroline, an already-smitten Chad hilariously expresses a fear that he and Dru are related. There are indelible and often spooky settings, including Dru’s estate, which is so huge that she’s unaware of men growing marijuana on her property. Instant romance arrives too, when Chad, who has only just declared his love for Dru, asks her uncle Mercurio about “making her pregnant.” The introduction of an enigmatic group called Friends in High Places adds intrigue—both its membership and its reasons for being invested in Dru are hazy—as does an apparent clairvoyance shared by Dru and Delamar; each knows when the other is in peril. The story suffers when it hits a lull in the book’s second act, almost as if it’s hovering over the same plot devices: multiple trips to the hospital due to threats or attacks; more than one kidnapping; and interminable discussions about Chad and Dru’s potential marriage and its inexorable consummation. But the third act puts the story back on track with suspense and plenty of chances for Dru to display her self-defense training, though her signature move seems to be kneeing men in “the delicate anatomy.”

A spirited, diverting thriller that’s marred only by some narrative repetition.

Pub Date: Feb. 22, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4948-1987-3

Page Count: 326

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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Connelly takes a break from his Harry Bosch police novels (The Last Coyote, p. 328, etc.) for something even more intense: a reporter's single-minded pursuit of the serial killer who murdered his twin. Even his buddies in the Denver PD thought Sean McEvoy's shooting in the backseat of his car looked like a classic cop suicide, right clown to the motive: his despondency over his failure to clear the murder of a University of Denver student. But as Sean's twin brother, Jack, of the Rocky Mountain News, notices tiny clues that marked Sean's death as murder, his suspicions about the dying message Sean scrawled inside his fogged windshield—"Out of space. Out of time"—alert him to a series of eerily similar killings stretching from Sarasota to Albuquerque. The pattern, Jack realizes, involves two sets of murders: a series of sex killings of children, and then the executions (duly camouflaged as suicides) of the investigating police officers. Armed with what he's dug up, Jack heads off to Washington, to the Law Enforcement Foundation and the FBI. The real fireworks begin as Jack trades his official silence for an inside role in the investigation, only to find himself shut out of both the case and the story. From then on in, Jack, falling hard for Rachel Walling, the FBI agent in charge of the case, rides his Bureau connections like a bucking bronco—even as one William Gladden, a pedophile picked up on a low-level charge in Santa Monica, schemes to make bail before the police can run his prints through the national computer, then waits with sick patience for his chance at his next victim. The long-awaited confrontation between Jack and Gladden comes at an LA video store; but even afterward, Jack's left with devastating questions about the case. Connelly wrings suspense out of every possible aspect of Jack's obsessive hunt for his brother's killer. Prepare to be played like a violin.

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 1996

ISBN: 0-316-15398-2

Page Count: 440

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1995

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