Fine writing, memorable characters, depth of feeling, and gripping drama—a real keeper.


In Arch’s thoughtful novel, the past comes back to haunt three prep school friends.

Stewart “Goody” Goodman, Sandy “Pick” Piccolo, and Laura Appleby were fast friends—and a love triangle—at Pocono Prep in the 1970s. Seconds before a stroke erases his consciousness, their mentor, Dean Henry Griffin, calls out for Pick and Goody, setting everything in motion. (And then there is the Griffins’ adopted son, Chip.) Pick is now a very successful attorney married to Laura. They lost a child, which put extra strain on their shaky marriage. Goody literally fled the school after discovering Pick and Laura in bed, wrote a blockbuster book about the three of them, and then disappeared again. Eventually Goody, now a Zen Buddhist priest, is tracked down. The whole cast is assembled, and it’s clear that this “reveal” is what Dean Griffin desperately wanted in that last moment of consciousness. (Pick’s precocious son says it’s like the last scene in an Agatha Christie novel.) We’ll have to stop here, because any more would spoil a really clever plot. This is Arch’s first novel in a long writing career that began with his breakthrough, the screenplay Sleepless in Seattle. The characters are wonderfully drawn. Henry Griffin is the wise father figure that any troubled teen would kill for. Pick is a take-no-prisoners litigator in lifelong rebellion against his mobster father. Goody is a saintly figure but unbelievably believable (you have to be there). How they sort out their relationships with one another after the big reveal is worth the price of admission. These are all good, if flawed and complex, people. The narrative is from several shifting points of view (Laura, Pick, Chip, etc.) and goes back and forth in time between the ’70s and the present—and Arch works it like a maestro.

Fine writing, memorable characters, depth of feeling, and gripping drama—a real keeper.

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68463-082-0

Page Count: 337

Publisher: SparkPress

Review Posted Online: March 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.


An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.


In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8272-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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