A historic page-turner that promises to bring fans new and old to the table.

THE DEADLIEST FEVER

A MIRIAM BAT ISAAC MYSTERY IN ANCIENT ALEXANDRIA

Trop (The Deadliest Sport, 2017, etc.) lends depth and familiarity to an ancient world and adds modern thriller sensibilities in this latest historical mystery novel, the fourth in the series.

Miriam bat Isaac, an aspiring alchemist in first-century C.E. Alexandria, has had a complex life. Having dealt with the dangers of alchemical techniques themselves and people competing with or acting against the Jewish alchemists working on such research, she finds herself in the rare position of both being an expert in alchemical science and in unraveling the conspiracies and threats that beset her and those around her. So it’s all the more surprising when she’s faced with her most puzzling challenge yet—an attack on Alexandria’s Great Synagogue that leaves its Torah mantle damaged. That alone would be a mystery worth tackling, but when her alchemist colleague (and the longtime object of her affections) Judah repairs the mantle, he finds that none of the gems embedded in the sacred object were stolen, leaving the culprit’s motives all the more uncertain. When a missive warning of a veiled need for additional guards at the synagogue appears, Miriam’s concerns only deepen. As she investigates, she finds more and more doubt and confusion about this particularly twisted piece of intrigue, and it’s dark and dangerous enough that it could very well be her last. As in previous books, Trop’s prose is strong, with clean, natural dialogue and a particular flair for the kinetic details of action scenes and the dramatics of disguise and investigation. The complex cultural dynamics of Jewish people in this society are well-researched, a welcome facet of the series. What’s more, even new readers will find themselves caught up in the setting via effective description and a liberal application of culture- and setting-specific terms. Fans of the series may be interested to note that, while this book brings with it the tension and quick pacing of previous entries, it does feature fewer scenes of violence and action-fueled drama. Certainly this is unsurprising, because the previous book focused on Miriam’s brother, Binyamin, and his fellow gladiators, but it’s worth noting this installment’s shift to a greater focus on investigation, questions, and uncertainty.

A historic page-turner that promises to bring fans new and old to the table.

Pub Date: April 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62694-875-4

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Black Opal Books

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.

THE CHASE

From the Briar U series

In this opener to Kennedy’s (Hot & Bothered, 2017, etc.) Briar U romance series, two likable students keep getting their signals crossed.

Twenty-one-year-old Summer Heyward-Di Laurentis is expelled from Brown University in the middle of her junior year because she was responsible for a fire at the Kappa Beta Nu sorority house. Fortunately, her father has connections, so she’s now enrolled in Briar University, a prestigious institution about an hour outside Boston. But as she’s about to move into Briar’s Kappa Beta Nu house, she’s asked to leave by the sisters, who don’t want her besmirching their reputation. Her older brother Dean, who’s a former Briar hockey star, comes to her rescue; his buddies, who are still on the hockey team, need a fourth roommate for their townhouse. Three good-looking hockey jocks and a very rich, gorgeous fashion major under the same roof—what could go wrong? Summer becomes quickly infatuated with one of her housemates: Dean’s best friend Colin “Fitzy” Fitzgerald. There’s a definite spark between them, and they exchange smoldering looks, but the tattooed Fitzy, who’s also a video game reviewer and designer, is an introvert who prefers no “drama” in his life. Summer, however, is a charming extrovert, although she has an inferiority complex about her flagging scholastic acumen. As the story goes on, the pair seem to misinterpret each other’s every move. Meanwhile, another roommate and potential suitor, Hunter Davenport, is waiting in the wings. Kennedy’s novel is full of sex, alcohol, and college-level profanity, but it never becomes formulaic. The author adroitly employs snappy dialogue, steady pacing, and humor, as in a scene at a runway fashion show featuring Briar jocks parading in Summer-designed swimwear. The book also manages to touch on some serious subjects, including learning disabilities and abusive behavior by faculty members. Summer and Fitzy’s repeated stumbles propel the plot through engaging twists and turns; the characters trade off narrating the story, which gives each of them a chance to reveal some substance.

A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.    

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-72482-199-7

Page Count: 372

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

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LAST ORDERS

Britisher Swift's sixth novel (Ever After, 1992 etc.) and fourth to appear here is a slow-to-start but then captivating tale of English working-class families in the four decades following WW II. When Jack Dodds dies suddenly of cancer after years of running a butcher shop in London, he leaves a strange request—namely, that his ashes be scattered off Margate pier into the sea. And who could better be suited to fulfill this wish than his three oldest drinking buddies—insurance man Ray, vegetable seller Lenny, and undertaker Vic, all of whom, like Jack himself, fought also as soldiers or sailors in the long-ago world war. Swift's narrative start, with its potential for the melodramatic, is developed instead with an economy, heart, and eye that release (through the characters' own voices, one after another) the story's humanity and depth instead of its schmaltz. The jokes may be weak and self- conscious when the three old friends meet at their local pub in the company of the urn holding Jack's ashes; but once the group gets on the road, in an expensive car driven by Jack's adoptive son, Vince, the story starts gradually to move forward, cohere, and deepen. The reader learns in time why it is that no wife comes along, why three marriages out of three broke apart, and why Vince always hated his stepfather Jack and still does—or so he thinks. There will be stories of innocent youth, suffering wives, early loves, lost daughters, secret affairs, and old antagonisms—including a fistfight over the dead on an English hilltop, and a strewing of Jack's ashes into roiling seawaves that will draw up feelings perhaps unexpectedly strong. Without affectation, Swift listens closely to the lives that are his subject and creates a songbook of voices part lyric, part epic, part working-class social realism—with, in all, the ring to it of the honest, human, and true.

Pub Date: April 5, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-41224-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1996

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