A gripping, psychologically nuanced thriller set along the fault lines of a marriage.

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BINDS THAT TIE

A married couple covers up a murder, kicking off an engaging, literary suspense novel.

When Maggie kills an intruder in the home she shares with her husband, Chris, they face a seemingly untenable dilemma. It’s complicated by the fact that she publicly flirted with the murder victim before he began stalking her. Chris, irreparably scarred by events in his past, insists that they can’t trust the police and must conceal the body. But detectives zero in on them almost immediately, arriving at their home to question them the very next day. The ensuing investigation will test Maggie and Chris’ bonds of love and loyalty more than they could have ever imagined. How far will they go to protect each other when the police narrow their investigation further? Debut author Moretti’s prose is taut and elegant, with some passages that are positively lyrical (“[B]efore Maggie, his life had nothing….After, well, after was a love seismograph—sharp, ecstatic peaks and equally deep, despairing valleys, all intermingled with the apathetic flat line of the everyday”). The deft pacing allows time for plot complications to develop while also keeping readers turning pages. The author vividly portrays the sharp sting of infidelity, the abiding ache of infertility and the amorphous discontent of a love past its luster—all while moving the murder investigation swiftly forward. The foreshadowing is so skillful that plot twists feel surprising yet somehow inevitable. Other subtle touches (such as Maggie’s cracking the skull of the intruder with a Lenox vase, a wedding present) will further enhance readers’ pleasure. The dialogue is natural and authentic, and the story builds steadily to a satisfying, emotionally resonant conclusion.

A gripping, psychologically nuanced thriller set along the fault lines of a marriage.

Pub Date: March 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1940215266

Page Count: 306

Publisher: Red Adept Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2014

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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THE GLASS HOTEL

A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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