A passionate and timely political tale that will appeal to the anti-Trump choir but likely won’t create many converts.




From the Imogen & Isaiah series , Vol. 1

The murder of a “third-rate hack of a political consultant” triggers the plot of this debut novel.

Isaiah Whitman, a political activist, recalls the events that led him to a holding room at the Modesto, California, police department. He’s awaiting questioning regarding the death of Corey Strutsky, who was found shot in Whitman’s office. Whitman, who was once known as one of Silicon Valley’s “Rising Stars,” sold his business a while ago. Donald Trump’s election deeply concerned him and his twin sister, causing them to seek out “volunteer opportunities, and a path back to the nation we thought we knew.” They focused their attention on a California congressional race between Republican, white evangelical Mike Reed, and Latina community activist Sylvia Delgado, a Democrat. But they weren’t satisfied with simply making phone calls for Delgado. Whitman, a biracial man who’s long been “passing” for white, hatched an elaborate plot to pose as a supporter of Reed. He formed a political-action committee and targeted white, working-class voters who once voted for Barack Obama but swung to Trump. However, he didn’t want to win them over to Reed’s side; instead, he used deliberately racist rhetoric in order to horrify them into abandoning their Republican-voting ways. He hired Strutsky as a consultant who would “take messaging where others fear to tread.” But was Whitman using Strutsky, or was Strutsky using him? Although Hunt-Logan’s novel is billed as a “political mystery,” it reads more like an anti-Trump polemic—complete with citations to support arguments and data points. It may effectively serve as a call-to-action to non-voters who sat out the 2016 election; one character, for example, “excoriated friends who had told her they weren’t volunteering, as they ‘just weren’t that excited about Hillary.’ She said, ‘I hope they’re excited now.’ ” Still, many readers may find that the book displays more passion than it does nuance. Still, Hunt-Logan’s message is keenly felt, clearly urging readers to get politically engaged in the upcoming midterms—and beyond.

A passionate and timely political tale that will appeal to the anti-Trump choir but likely won’t create many converts.

Pub Date: July 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-73247-680-6

Page Count: 292

Publisher: Skyline Ridge Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2018

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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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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


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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