A smart, well-composed study of the perilous nature of survival.



Tragedy and redemption, sorrow and longing: the motifs of extinction are woven together in this thoughtful third novel from Deaner (The Body Spoken, 1999, etc.).

A passive, detached voice works well in this tale of New Yorker Will Mendelsohn, a scientist writing a book on the extinction of species. How he comes to this interest is of little surprise: his mother, a Holocaust survivor, crowded his childhood with stories of death, tales of the fragility of life. When his wife accidentally burns his nearly completed manuscript (they decide to part ways afterward), Will takes to the road, traveling the world to record the process of species disappearing forever. Peppered throughout are excerpts from Will’s new work-in-progress, weirdly charming anecdotes as to how a particular species makes the shift from health to destruction. When he arrives in India to study the one-horned rhino, he obligingly agrees to spend a few days with Mim, euphemistically referred to as his mother’s childhood friend, though really a girl she knew in the camps. He soon meets Stella, a bombastic though charming New York actress who is staying in India with her friend Grace Tagore. And it’s Grace, an American married to a wealthy Indian tea farmer, who keeps Will in India; days stretch into months as the two begin an affair. Grace’s husband is dying from a mysterious illness; Grace herself is hiding a terrible past; Mim fears that political groups extolling Indian purity will oust her from her home; and Stella has naïvely involved herself with a rebel group—plot elements that one way or another allude to extinction. Will, largely an unsympathetic character, confronts the subject of his life’s work on a personal scale: through a mix-up, he is arrested and beaten senseless. When he awakes, unable to move, he finds himself the prisoner of a small boy. This strange turn of events transforms Will into a true expert in his field and a deserving recipient of what comes next.

A smart, well-composed study of the perilous nature of survival.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2001

ISBN: 0-525-94415-X

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2001

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Another success for the publishing phenom.


An abused boy fights back, escapes, then returns as an attorney to his beloved hometown, but just as he’s falling in love with a transplanted landscaper, a series of attacks from shadowy enemies jeopardizes their happiness.

“From the outside, the house in Lakeview Terrace looked perfect.” Which of course means that it wasn't. We're introduced to the horrifying Dr. Graham Bigelow, who beats his wife and, increasingly as the boy gets older, his son, Zane. On the night of Zane’s prom, a particularly savage attack puts him and his sister in the hospital, and his father blames Zane, landing him in jail. Then his sister stands up for him, enlisting the aid of their aunt, and everything changes, mainly due to Zane’s secret diaries. Nearly 20 years later, Zane leaves a successful career as a lawyer to return to Lakeview, where his aunt and sister live with their families, deciding to hang a shingle as a small-town lawyer. Then he meets Darby McCray, the landscaper who’s recently relocated and taken the town by storm, starting with the transformation of his family’s rental bungalows. The two are instantly intrigued by each other, but they move slowly into a relationship neither is looking for. Darby has a violent past of her own, so she is more than willing to take on the risk of antagonizing a boorish local family when she and Zane help an abused wife. Suddenly Zane and Darby face one attack after another, and even as they grow ever closer under the pressure, the dangers become more insidious. Roberts’ latest title feels a little long and the story is slightly cumbersome, but her greatest strength is in making the reader feel connected to her characters, so “unnecessary details” can also charm and engage.

Another success for the publishing phenom.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-20709-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.


An FBI agent is determined to catch a man who bilks and murders wealthy women, but the chase goes slowly.

Brown (Tailspin, 2018, etc.) has published 70 bestsellers, and this one employs her usual template of thriller spiked with romance. Its main character, Drex Easton, is an FBI agent in pursuit of a serial killer, but for him it’s personal. When he was a boy, his mother left him and his father for another man, Weston Graham. Drex believes Graham murdered her and that he has killed at least seven more women after emptying their bank accounts. Now he thinks he has the clever Graham—current alias Jasper Ford—in his sights, and he’s willing to put his career at risk to catch him. The women Ford targets are wealthy, and his new prey is no exception—except that, uncharacteristically, he has married her. Talia Ford proves to be a complication for Drex, who instantly falls in lust with her even though he’s not at all sure she isn’t her husband's accomplice. Posing as a would-be novelist, Drex moves into an apartment next door to the Fords’ posh home and tries to ingratiate himself, but tensions rise immediately—Jasper is suspicious, and Talia has mixed feelings about Drex's flirtatious behavior. When Talia’s fun-loving friend Elaine Conner turns up dead after a cruise on her yacht and Jasper disappears, Drex and Talia become allies. There are a few action sequences and fewer sex scenes, but the novel’s pace bogs down repeatedly in long, mundane conversations. Drex's two FBI agent sidekicks are more interesting characters than he is; Drex himself is such a caricature of a macho man, so heedless of ethics, and so aggressive toward women that it’s tough to see him as a good guy. Brown adds a couple of implausible twists at the very end that make him seem almost as untrustworthy as Graham.

This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4555-7219-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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