The first in a proposed series, readers will welcome the time spent with the enigmatic Mona Baker.

READ REVIEW

WHAT'S DONE IN THE DARK

A MONA BAKER NOVEL

In Batts’ thriller, a woman learns whom to trust (or not) after her husband is arrested for drug trafficking and she becomes a target for murder.

When cops find a kilo of cocaine in the Bakers’ house, they arrest Exxon-Mobil VP Aaron and pressure his wife, Mona, into giving them proof of a secret bank account where Aaron’s stashed his drug money. And the police have leverage: They’ve found Mona’s sister, Simone, who disappeared nearly a decade ago and was presumed dead, and will keep her out of prison (for killing her rapist uncle) if Mona helps. Mona, however, knows nothing about Aaron’s drug trafficking, let alone any hidden money. She soon realizes that she’s being followed, and when she survives more than one attempt on her life, it’s clear that someone sees Mona as a loose end. Batts’ (Walls Fall Down, 2003) novel is a fascinating tale of a woman rediscovering her lost identity: Mona’s mother was a strict disciplinarian and raised her girls in a crime-riddled neighborhood, but the adult Mona, who admits to marrying Aaron for his money, has embraced an indulgent lifestyle. She finds her strength again, thanks to Simone, a sublime character who has made her own way without a rich husband. Mona is deeply flawed: She claims that the cops are using her to secure a case against Aaron, but Mona is likewise using numerous people, namely her various lovers—men and women whom she’s strung along with no intention of forging any emotional connection. What makes Mona a resounding protagonist is her acknowledgement of her weaknesses and her love for her 7-year-old daughter, Sophie. The story reads like a mystery; it begins by almost immediately asking questions: Is there a foreign bank account? Was the cocaine Aaron’s or, as he maintains, part of a frame-up? But, though answers eventually surface, it’s a bit disappointing that Mona doesn’t act as amateur sleuth or initiate her own investigation. Notwithstanding, there’s definitely suspense—Mona’s distrust of police is derived from Aaron’s friendship with the mayor and the possibility of corrupt cops.

The first in a proposed series, readers will welcome the time spent with the enigmatic Mona Baker.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-0692226377

Page Count: 276

Publisher: The Real Ideal, LLC

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2014

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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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Cheerfully engaging.

WHAT ALICE FORGOT

From Australian Moriarty (The Last Anniversary, 2006, etc.), domestic escapism about a woman whose temporary amnesia makes her re-examine what really matters to her.

Alice wakes from what she thinks is a dream, assuming she is a recently married 29-year-old expecting her first child. Actually she is 39, the mother of three and in the middle of an acrimonious custody battle with her soon-to-be ex-husband Nick. She’s fallen off her exercise bike, and the resulting bump on her head has not only erased her memory of the last 10 years but has also taken her psychologically back to a younger, more easygoing self at odds with the woman she gathers she has become. While Alice-at-29 is loving and playful if lacking ambition or self-confidence, Alice-at-39 is a highly efficient if too tightly wound supermom. She is also thin and rich since Nick now heads the company where she remembers him struggling in an entry-level position. Alice-at-29 cannot conceive that she and Nick would no longer be rapturously in love or that she and her adored older sister Elisabeth could be estranged, and she is shocked that her shy mother has married Nick’s bumptious father and taken up salsa dancing. She neither remembers nor recognizes her three children, each given a distinct if slightly too cute personality. Nor does she know what to make of the perfectly nice boyfriend Alice-at-39 has acquired. As memory gradually returns, Alice-at-29 initially misinterprets the scattered images and flashes of emotion, especially those concerning Gina, a woman who evidently caused the rift with Nick. Alice-at-29 assumes Gina was Nick’s mistress, only to discover that Gina was her best friend. Gina died in a freak car accident and in her honor, Alice-at-39 has organized mothers from the kids’ school to bake the largest lemon meringue pie on record. But Alice-at-29 senses that Gina may not have been a completely positive influence. Moriarty handles the two Alice consciousnesses with finesse and also delves into infertility issues through Elizabeth’s diary.

Cheerfully engaging.

Pub Date: June 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-15718-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Amy Einhorn/Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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