Thrills aplenty as readers await the next installment of this well-researched series.

THE CITY OF TEARS

In this follow-up to The Burning Chambers, (2019) Mosse’s characters endure the horrors of the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre, in which the Huguenots—members of the French Protestant minority—were attacked by Catholics.

Minou Reydon, the Huguenot protagonist of Chambers, and her husband, Piet, are now, in 1572, the nobility in residence at Château de Puivert in Languedoc after having wrested it from a usurper. Minou’s entire extended family lives in the castle, including her brother, Aimeric, sister, Alis, and her Aunt Salvadora. Minou and Piet have two children, precocious 7-year-old Marta and toddler Jean-Jacques. The family’s idyll is about to be interrupted, though. Piet’s former friend Vidal, now a Catholic cardinal, is scheming to carry out grudges against both Minou and Piet, one long-standing and one very recent: Vidal has suspicions about Piet’s lineage that he is determined to both confirm and conceal. The Reydons’ troubles begin when they leave Puivert to attend a royal wedding in Paris. Marguerite, the Catholic daughter of Catherine de’ Medici, is to marry Henri, the Huguenot king of Navarre, who will one day accede to the throne of France. Many hope that the match will signal a truce in the religious strife that has rocked France for decades. However, certain renegade Catholics, led by the Duke of Guise and abetted by Vidal, plan a limited strike on key Huguenots in town for the wedding. But the violence spreads until a mob has murdered thousands. Minou, Piet, their son, and Salvadora manage to escape but, through a profoundly unlucky turn of events, leave Marta behind. This act will test Minou and Piet’s marital bond as, in exile from France, they establish a new life in Amsterdam. Mosse keeps a firm grip on the extremely complex Reformation history in which her characters are enmeshed. The role of Vidal in the plot is less successfully executed. The aging and ailing prelate appears too overtly crazy to fulfill his intended role as mastermind and nemesis. And there may be too many minutely described stabbings for some tastes.

Thrills aplenty as readers await the next installment of this well-researched series.

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-20218-5

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

THE FOUR WINDS

The miseries of the Depression and Dust Bowl years shape the destiny of a Texas family.

“Hope is a coin I carry: an American penny, given to me by a man I came to love. There were times in my journey when I felt as if that penny and the hope it represented were the only things that kept me going.” We meet Elsa Wolcott in Dalhart, Texas, in 1921, on the eve of her 25th birthday, and wind up with her in California in 1936 in a saga of almost unrelieved woe. Despised by her shallow parents and sisters for being sickly and unattractive—“too tall, too thin, too pale, too unsure of herself”—Elsa escapes their cruelty when a single night of abandon leads to pregnancy and forced marriage to the son of Italian immigrant farmers. Though she finds some joy working the land, tending the animals, and learning her way around Mama Rose's kitchen, her marriage is never happy, the pleasures of early motherhood are brief, and soon the disastrous droughts of the 1930s drive all the farmers of the area to despair and starvation. Elsa's search for a better life for her children takes them out west to California, where things turn out to be even worse. While she never overcomes her low self-esteem about her looks, Elsa displays an iron core of character and courage as she faces dust storms, floods, hunger riots, homelessness, poverty, the misery of migrant labor, bigotry, union busting, violent goons, and more. The pedantic aims of the novel are hard to ignore as Hannah embodies her history lesson in what feels like a series of sepia-toned postcards depicting melodramatic scenes and clichéd emotions.

For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2501-7860-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE

In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8272-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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