A dirty, chatty, and sometimes-brutal love story for the rap-rock set.

BROKEN MIRRORS AND BURNING BUSHES

A young, reckless couple in Southern California deals with increasingly disastrous situations in Rubinstein’s debut novel.

Drug dealer and aspiring rap-rocker Paul Koval has been in love with his wife, Alice, since he first met her in his community college chemistry class: “The way she seemed to look right through me into my soul. It was that familiar, Hey, don’t I know you from somewhere type feeling. It was the fact that her IQ was probably off the charts. She’s off the chain on every way.” Theirs is a relationship meant for adventure—although when it finds them, it’s not always fun. Both come from traumatic childhoods, and their adult lives are a combustive mix of love, drugs, and violence. They dislike their dead-end service jobs, so Alice encourages Paul to expand his drug business to include meth. She gives birth to their first daughter, Hannah, while Paul is in surgery after being shot by robbers dressed as the Three Stooges on Halloween. Later, after a shootout in the parking lot of a Barnes & Noble, the couple decide that they “need to get out of California for a while,” so they set off on a drug-fueled cross-country restaurant-robbing crime spree. Rubinstein’s prose is frenetic and gritty, capturing the increasing pressure under which Paul finds himself: “I shook my head, trying to clear it. Come on, what are you gonna do? You say it’ll work out, right? How? Go get a job? Where? And looking the way you do? With your work history?…Your daughter’s hungry now.” However, the book is far too long—in part because it spends too much time laying out a comprehensive history of the couple’s relationship. Even so, Rubinstein manages to create characters whom readers can truly feel for, despite their poor decision-making skills and generally grungy ethos. Paul inevitably compares himself and Alice to infamous criminals Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, and it’s a comparison that’s not too far off the mark. Buried within this methed-out epic is a very old story about vicious cycles—and the young Americans who lack the resources to find their way out of them.

A dirty, chatty, and sometimes-brutal love story for the rap-rock set.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-578-60927-0

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: June 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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

THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

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.

THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE

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: N/A

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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