An action-packed and refreshingly innovative take on a popular genre.

END TIMES

In this theological thriller, a veteran police officer attempts to track down a peculiarly talented man suffering from amnesia who may be the key to the fate of the world. 

Sgt. Alex Randall sees an “impossibly good looking” man meandering about aimlessly down a dead-end road. When he stops to check on his well-being, Randall discovers the man is suffering from radical amnesia. Not only does he not remember his own name, he seems to know virtually nothing about the world—he has to inquire what an ID is when asked to produce one. Randall decides to take him to Templeton Hall, a local psychiatric institute, where the stranger immediately charms the entire nursing staff—he’s so handsome, they name him Rex, Latin for king. Rex is visited at the hospital by an old man who warns him to flee—evil is fast approaching—and the next day, he’s disappeared and everyone at the facility, more than two dozen people, is found tortured and dead. Meanwhile, a man named Camael visits Randall and requests his help to find Rex—he’s willing to pay extravagant sums of money. He claims that Rex’s life is somehow wrapped up in the destiny of humanity, and despite the utter implausibility of his view, Randall is inclined to believe him and suspects he is an angel. Rex is preternaturally gifted at all things, and is recruited to become some kind of star—maybe a musician or a baseball player or actor—and is represented by Molly Simon, a photographer eager to capitalize on his infinite skills and marquee good looks. In his energetic novel, Carroll (The Horror Writer, 2017, etc.), a bestselling author and former journalist twice nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, artfully combines two genres—a hard-boiled detective mystery and a religion-infused tale about the end of the world. He blends the inventive with the stale, creating an unpredictable adventure within an all-too-familiar formula. But Randall’s character is a notable point of weakness—it’s hard to square his history as a policeman and soldier with his quick credulity. It’s remarkably early in the story when he confidently claims to Molly: “Make up your own mind…but to me it’s looking like a good versus evil thing.”

An action-packed and refreshingly innovative take on a popular genre.

Pub Date: Jan. 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9898269-6-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Swaggering Press

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2019

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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