An energetic novel featuring an antagonistic public figure.

THE SWITCH

Reichwein’s (A Different Kind of Fire & Fury, 2018) fictional thriller features real-life conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer as a character who teams up with an FBI agent.

FBI Agent Maria Quintana-Deon is on the scene after a devastating explosion at Cellular Telecom &Telephone Communications in Santa Fe, New Mexico. “Comrade Angela,” the military commander of the Peruvian terrorist group Shining Path, takes credit for the bombing on the group’s behalf in an email to Laura, adding that they have also abducted CT&T CEO Tom Yust. For Yust’s safe return, the group demands $100 million and the head of the Los Lobos drug cartel. For good measure, Shining Path’s operatives free their incarcerated member Sandra Ochoa Ramos from her prison transport. After tracking the group to Peru, Maria gets help from Laura, Drug Enforcement Administration agent Don Lopez, and Maria’s trained German shepherd, Lucky. Maria soon learns of her surprising link to Sandra, which also connects to Maria’s estranged father, DEA agent Juan Quintana. Unfortunately, Comrade Angela, Sandra, and others are well aware that Maria is chasing them. It turns out that Shining Path has a U.S. agent on its side, and they may target someone Maria loves, such as her mother, Jeannie, in Santa Fe. Although Reichwein’s tale appears intended to launch a Laura-centric series, Laura shares lead duties with Maria here. The book’s cast includes some memorable players, such as the ferocious Sandra, who totes a pink AK-47. The story keeps up a rapid pace with succinct chapters told from the first-person perspectives of myriad characters, although these sometimes confusingly drift into third-person. There’s also occasional far-right social commentary, as when Laura fights her ban from social-networking service Jitter; this mirrors the real-life Loomer’s permanent Twitter ban, which occurred in 2018 after she directed a series of anti-Islamic tweets at U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar. (In the book, Jitter is said to be “partially owned by members of the Muslim Brotherhood.”) According to Reichwein’s website, “part of the proceeds of the novel will be donated to [Loomer’s] journalistic work.”

An energetic novel featuring an antagonistic public figure.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5136-5425-6

Page Count: 257

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2020

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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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