Great fun from a masterful writer.

APRIL IN SPAIN

A literary period piece featuring colorful characters and a mysterious crime.

In postwar Ireland, “Terry Tice liked killing people,”  and he offs his gay friend Percy on a whim. Meanwhile, in Donostia in the Basque region of Spain, a semihappy couple named Quirke and Evelyn are visiting for an April holiday. He’s an Irish pathologist—hero of earlier mysteries Banville published under the name Benjamin Black—and she’s an Austrian psychiatrist who survived the Holocaust. Quirke is the perfect name for the husband, who “could never say the word ‘love’ without flinching.” And he “made love deftly, in an exploratory sort of way, like a doctor searching for the source of an obscure malady.” Evelyn loves to tease him: “You love to be miserable,” she says. “It’s your version of being happy.” Meanwhile, a young woman named April Latimer is dead, murdered by her brother, but her body has never been found. April is the catalyst who eventually brings the storylines together—but well before that, readers will savor the author’s imagery and playful language. After doing in his pal, Terry finds Percy’s photos of nude “fellows with enormous how’s-your-fathers.” In a restaurant, Quirke and Evelyn’s “waiter looked like a superannuated toreador.” Earlier, the odors in a fish stall made Quirke think of sex. They buy oysters, an innocent act that lands Quirke in the hospital, where Doctor  Angela Lawless haunts his thoughts but he doesn’t know why.  Meanwhile, Doctor Cruz demands to know why the couple is really in Spain. Are they poking into the April Latimer business? The bulk of the story focuses on the two vacationers, but Tice may have the last word on whether they can ever return to the Emerald Isle. The plot is good, but the prose—ah, the prose: A woman watches fat raindrops fall, and she “imagined them to be tiny ballerinas making super-quick curtseys and then dropping through little trapdoors hidden in the stage.” And who can’t smile at a woman’s observation that a fellow may be “inclined to the leeward side of Cape Perineum”?

Great fun from a masterful writer.

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-335-47140-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Hanover Square Press

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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Not the best of Connelly’s procedurals, but nobody else does them better than his second-best.

DESERT STAR

A snap of the yo-yo string yanks Harry Bosch out of retirement yet again.

Los Angeles Councilman Jake Pearlman has resurrected the LAPD’s Open-Unsolved Unit in order to reopen the case of his kid sister, Sarah, whose 1994 murder was instantly eclipsed in the press by the O.J. Simpson case when it broke a day later. Since not even a councilor can reconstitute a police unit for a single favored case, Det. Renée Ballard and her mostly volunteer (read: unpaid) crew are expected to reopen some other cold cases as well, giving Bosch a fresh opportunity to gather evidence against Finbar McShane, the crooked manager he’s convinced executed industrial contractor Stephen Gallagher, his wife, and their two children in 2013 and buried them in a single desert grave. The case has haunted Bosch more than any other he failed to close, and he’s fine to work the Pearlman homicide if it’ll give him another crack at McShane. As it turns out, the Pearlman case is considerably more interesting—partly because the break that leads the unit to a surprising new suspect turns out to be both fraught and misleading, partly because identifying the killer is only the beginning of Bosch’s problems. The windup of the Gallagher murders, a testament to sweating every detail and following every lead wherever it goes, is more heartfelt but less wily and dramatic. Fans of the aging detective who fear that he might be mellowing will be happy to hear that “putting him on a team did not make him a team player.”

Not the best of Connelly’s procedurals, but nobody else does them better than his second-best.

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-48565-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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Underscores that the stories we tell about our lives and those of others can change hearts, minds, and history.

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OUR MISSING HEARTS

In a dystopian near future, art battles back against fear.

Ng’s first two novels—her arresting debut, Everything I Never Told You (2014), and devastating follow-up, Little Fires Everywhere (2017)—provided an insightful, empathetic perspective on America as it is. Her equally sensitive, nuanced, and vividly drawn latest effort, set in a dystopian near future in which Asian Americans are regarded with scorn and mistrust by the government and their neighbors, offers a frightening portrait of what it might become. The novel’s young protagonist, Bird, was 9 when his mother—without explanation—left him and his father; his father destroyed every sign of her. Now, when Bird is 12, a letter arrives. Because it is addressed to “Bird,” he knows it's from his mother. For three years, he has had to answer to his given name, Noah; repeat that he and his father no longer have anything to do with his mother; try not to attract attention; and endure classmates calling his mother a traitor. None of it makes sense to Bird until his one friend, Sadie, fills him in: His mother, the child of Chinese immigrants, wrote a poem that had improbably become a rallying cry for those protesting PACT—the Preserving American Culture and Traditions Act—a law that had helped end the Crisis 10 years before, ushering in an era in which violent economic protests had become vanishingly rare, but fear and suspicion, especially for persons of Asian origin, reigned. One of the Pillars of PACT—“Protects children from environments espousing harmful views”—had been the pretext for Sadie’s removal from her parents, who had sought to expose PACT’s cruelties and, Bird begins to understand, had prompted his own mother’s decision to leave. His mother's letter launches him on an odyssey to locate her, to listen and to learn. From the very first page of this thoroughly engrossing and deeply moving novel, Bird’s story takes wing. Taut and terrifying, Ng’s cautionary tale transports us into an American tomorrow that is all too easy to imagine—and persuasively posits that the antidotes to fear and suspicion are empathy and love.

Underscores that the stories we tell about our lives and those of others can change hearts, minds, and history.

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-49254-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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