Lights From Monadnock

Coey’s (Exit Stage Left, 2012, etc.) historical fiction involves murder in a small New Hampshire community during World War I and the possible connection to an act of espionage by an alleged German sympathizer.
Drawing on the 1918 murder of Dr. William Dean of East Jaffrey, New Hampshire, Coey fictionalizes events and proposes a solution to the crime, which has remained unsolved. Coey’s tale revolves around the attempts of two agents working for the Department of Justice to determine whether reports of mysterious lights coming from Mount Monadnock are the work of German agents signaling German submarines off Boston Harbor. Suspicion points to Lawrence Colfelt, a tenant on Dean’s farm who is believed by the locals to be a German sympathizer. After an altercation with Colfelt, Dean indicates to authorities that he has information regarding the investigation into the mysterious signals. Before authorities can speak to him, however, Dean is found murdered in the cistern on his farm. Justice Department agents Brendan Shaughnessey, a working class Bostonian with a drinking problem, and Nathaniel Nash, an academic attorney and family man, find themselves in a morass of ineptitude and conspiracy when it emerges that Colfelt has an alibi and a prominent local Freemason begins to look like the most likely culprit. With some eagerly pointing the finger at Dean’s frail, senile wife, tensions flare between Protestants and Catholics as a Masonic coverup is suspected. Highlights include the flamboyant Dr. DeKerlor, a European experimental psychologist and psychic who relishes the spotlight. Also compelling is the relationship that flourishes between Shaughnessey and a local widow. While the case is intriguing, Coey relies too heavily on official documents and newspaper articles. Wholesale adherence to historical material stifles the story; only toward the end of the novel, once Coey undertakes his hypothetical solution, do his characters begin to breathe.
An interesting case that’s too thinly fictionalized.

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2010

ISBN: 978-0979506796

Page Count: 198

Publisher: Fifth and Center Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2014

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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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

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