A thought-provoking novel with a clergyman who evolves into an intriguing hero.


A philosophical bishop gets dragged into a dangerous world in this thriller.

Meyer, the author of A Call to China (2017), cleverly models his story on the famous 16th-century Chinese narrative Journey to the West, in which a monk, accompanied by three colorful companions, takes a lengthy pilgrimage to India to recover Buddhist sutras. In this novel, set in the near future, that monk becomes Brendan Donovan, the kindly but naïve Catholic bishop of Charlotte, North Carolina.He wakes up one day, after two months in a coma, as the only survivor of a terrorist car bombing. As he recovers his memory, he realizes all is not as it seems—as indicated by the presence of secretive government agent Clyde Reese. Brendan had taken part in the UNESCO-sponsored Project 28, whose final, unpublished report condemned the actions of authoritarian governments and warned about climate change. He’s also one of only two survivors from that group. So, aided by his faithful vicar, Monsignor Finney, Brendan goes on the run. He ultimately hides among a group of homeless people, eventually meeting Hog Molly and Monk,who become his traveling companions. He decides to travel to the sacred site of Iona off the coast of Scotland to unveil the Project 28 report. All the trio has to do is avoid the sophisticated global surveillance network—and find a way to get to Iona. Meyer serves up an enjoyable cautionary tale that makes an ancient story plausible for the modern era. Using Brendan’s plight, the author examines how difficult it would be to go completely off the grid and how well-meaning people can unintentionally put themselves in danger. Meyer also provides a well-rounded cast of characters: Brendan goes from doughy idealist to rawboned realist, and ex–football player Molly and monk-in-exile Monk deserve much of the credit for that transition. Even the hardcore Reese, who longs for the strict old days of the Catholic Church, starts to question the choices he’s made. Indeed, the result is as much a character study as it is a suspenseful thriller—and it’s one that will make readers think twice about those in power.

A thought-provoking novel with a clergyman who evolves into an intriguing hero.

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-952961-00-7

Page Count: 290

Publisher: IngramElliott, Inc.

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2020

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A young man has been stabbed to death on a houseboat...that much is clear.

Hawkins' third novel, after her smash debut with The Girl on the Train (2015) and a weak follow-up with Into the Water (2017), gets off to a confusing start. A series of vignettes introduce numerous characters—Irene, Deidre, Laura, Miriam, Daniel (dead), Carla, Theo, Angela (dead)—all of whom live or lived in a very small geographical area and have overlapping connections and reasons to be furious at each other. We can all agree that the main question is who killed Daniel, the 23-year-old on the houseboat, but it is soon revealed that his estranged mother had died just a few weeks earlier—a drunk who probably fell, but maybe was pushed, down the stairs—and his cousin also fell to his death some years back. Untimely demise runs in the family. The highlight of these goings-on is Laura, a tiny but ferocious young woman who was seen running from Daniel's boat with blood on her mouth and clothes the last night he was alive. Physically and mentally disabled by an accident in her childhood, Laura is so used to being accused and wronged (and actually she is quite the sticky fingers) that she's not surprised when she's hauled in for Daniel's murder, though she's pretty sure she didn't do it. The secondary crimes and subplots include abduction, sexual assault, hit-and-run, petty larceny, plagiarism, bar brawling, breaking and entering, incest, and criminal negligence, and on top of all this there's a novel within a novel that mirrors events recalled in flashback by one of the characters. When Irene reads it, she's infuriated by "all the to-ing and fro-ing, all that jumping around in the timeline....Just start at the beginning, for god's sake. Why couldn't people just tell a story straight any longer, start to finish?" Hmmmmm.


Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7352-1123-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

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When a devoted husband and father disappears, his wife and daughter set out to find him.

Hannah Hall is deeply in love with her husband of one year, Owen Michaels. She’s also determined to win over his 16-year-old daughter, Bailey, who has made it very clear that she’s not thrilled with her new stepmother. Despite the drama, the family is mostly a happy one. They live in a lovely houseboat in Sausalito; Hannah is a woodturner whose handmade furniture brings in high-dollar clientele; and Owen works for The Shop, a successful tech firm. Their lives are shattered, however, when Hannah receives a note saying “Protect her” and can’t reach Owen by phone. Then there’s the bag full of cash Bailey finds in her school locker and the shocking news that The Shop’s CEO has been taken into custody. Hannah learns that the FBI has been investigating the firm for about a year regarding some hot new software they took to market before it was fully functional, falsifying their financial statements. Hannah refuses to believe her husband is involved in the fraud, and a U.S. marshal assigned to the case claims Owen isn’t a suspect. Hannah doesn’t know whom to trust, though, and she and Bailey resolve to root out the clues that might lead to Owen. They must also learn to trust one another. Hannah’s narrative alternates past and present, detailing her early days with Owen alongside her current hunt for him, and author Dave throws in a touch of danger and a few surprises. But what really drives the story is the evolving nature of Hannah and Bailey’s relationship, which is by turns poignant and frustrating but always realistic.

Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7134-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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