THE LAW OF LOVE

An exuberant, hectic, ultimately exhausting novel about (among other things) time travel, true love, and reincarnation, by the author of the hugely best-selling Like Water for Chocolate (1992). Set in Mexico City in the 23rd century, Esquivel's latest focuses on the determined and increasingly frantic attempts of Azucena, an ``astroanalyst'' (a therapist who helps people come to grips with the unfinished business of their past lives), to track down Rodrigo, her ``twin soul.'' (After a soul has died and been reincarnated thousands of times, it seems, it finally attains sufficient wisdom to locate its true companion, the missing half of its true and essential being.) Rodrigo and Azucena have been abruptly, inexplicably parted after just one night of supreme love, during which they have formed a single being that ``danced through space to the rhythm of the music of the spheres.'' It turns out that they have been swept into a bloody conspiracy by a deeply evil spirit to corrupt the largely blissful world of the future. Rodrigo has been dumped onto a hellish planet, and faces an unpleasant death unless Azucena can rescue him. After a series of increasingly broad and sketchy adventures (in which Azucena's guardian spirit, a variety of gods, and some truly weird technology are brought into play), all comes right. Whenever Esquivel is celebrating ``the hidden order of the world,'' the salvational possibilities of love, she's engaging and persuasive. But the novel, which comes with a CD featuring arias and Mexican danzones (presumably to foster the right mood in the reader), and which includes several gaudy, comic- book-like sections illustrated by the artist Miguelanxo Prado, finally seems too anxious to overwhelm, too determined to entertain at any cost. There's enough here to demonstrate that Esquivel can write, and that she possesses considerable originality. Next time out, though, she needs to try a little less hard to astonish. (First printing of 500,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-517-70681-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1996

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Another success for the publishing phenom.

UNDER CURRENTS

An abused boy fights back, escapes, then returns as an attorney to his beloved hometown, but just as he’s falling in love with a transplanted landscaper, a series of attacks from shadowy enemies jeopardizes their happiness.

“From the outside, the house in Lakeview Terrace looked perfect.” Which of course means that it wasn't. We're introduced to the horrifying Dr. Graham Bigelow, who beats his wife and, increasingly as the boy gets older, his son, Zane. On the night of Zane’s prom, a particularly savage attack puts him and his sister in the hospital, and his father blames Zane, landing him in jail. Then his sister stands up for him, enlisting the aid of their aunt, and everything changes, mainly due to Zane’s secret diaries. Nearly 20 years later, Zane leaves a successful career as a lawyer to return to Lakeview, where his aunt and sister live with their families, deciding to hang a shingle as a small-town lawyer. Then he meets Darby McCray, the landscaper who’s recently relocated and taken the town by storm, starting with the transformation of his family’s rental bungalows. The two are instantly intrigued by each other, but they move slowly into a relationship neither is looking for. Darby has a violent past of her own, so she is more than willing to take on the risk of antagonizing a boorish local family when she and Zane help an abused wife. Suddenly Zane and Darby face one attack after another, and even as they grow ever closer under the pressure, the dangers become more insidious. Roberts’ latest title feels a little long and the story is slightly cumbersome, but her greatest strength is in making the reader feel connected to her characters, so “unnecessary details” can also charm and engage.

Another success for the publishing phenom.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-20709-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

OUTFOX

An FBI agent is determined to catch a man who bilks and murders wealthy women, but the chase goes slowly.

Brown (Tailspin, 2018, etc.) has published 70 bestsellers, and this one employs her usual template of thriller spiked with romance. Its main character, Drex Easton, is an FBI agent in pursuit of a serial killer, but for him it’s personal. When he was a boy, his mother left him and his father for another man, Weston Graham. Drex believes Graham murdered her and that he has killed at least seven more women after emptying their bank accounts. Now he thinks he has the clever Graham—current alias Jasper Ford—in his sights, and he’s willing to put his career at risk to catch him. The women Ford targets are wealthy, and his new prey is no exception—except that, uncharacteristically, he has married her. Talia Ford proves to be a complication for Drex, who instantly falls in lust with her even though he’s not at all sure she isn’t her husband's accomplice. Posing as a would-be novelist, Drex moves into an apartment next door to the Fords’ posh home and tries to ingratiate himself, but tensions rise immediately—Jasper is suspicious, and Talia has mixed feelings about Drex's flirtatious behavior. When Talia’s fun-loving friend Elaine Conner turns up dead after a cruise on her yacht and Jasper disappears, Drex and Talia become allies. There are a few action sequences and fewer sex scenes, but the novel’s pace bogs down repeatedly in long, mundane conversations. Drex's two FBI agent sidekicks are more interesting characters than he is; Drex himself is such a caricature of a macho man, so heedless of ethics, and so aggressive toward women that it’s tough to see him as a good guy. Brown adds a couple of implausible twists at the very end that make him seem almost as untrustworthy as Graham.

This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4555-7219-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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