A promising series debut that will make readers eagerly await the next volume.



From the A Mariah Garrett: Nifty 50s Mystery series

Russell (November in New Orleans, 2018) offers a fantasy mystery in which a woman discovers that you can go home again—if you’re willing to travel through time.

Mariah Garrett is in a bit of a rut. Four years after being shot by a college classmate, she’s become an agoraphobe, unable to leave Gull Cottage, her family’s vacation home in Surfside Beach, Texas. She also struggles with panic attacks, which she personifies as “the Caveman.” One day, Mariah finds a way out of her routine after she removes a wood panel in her attic, revealing a previously unknown set of stairs. She descends the staircase and ends up in the kitchen of her great-grandmother Mama Foss and great-grandfather Poppa B—in 1957. Back in the present, a mummified body, estimated to have died in the ’50s, is unearthed at the town pier. Mariah decides to solve the present-day mystery by investigating it in the past. However, her impulsive, present-day best friend, Phoebe Gilliam, steals the corpse’s head, hoping for a cash windfall from the National Enquirer. Then the body itself disappears, and Phoebe stashes the head in Mariah’s pantry. Mariah finds herself drawn to the simpler times of the Sputnik era, and especially a handsome fellow named James Dean (no relation to the actor); they soon develop a mutual attraction. Time literally flies in this fast-paced first volume of a planned series. Along the way, Russell crafts a clever blend of whodunit and social commentary. Mariah is a likable lead who’s smart and sassy, able to think quickly on her feet. The secondary cast members of both eras are similarly engaging—the teen version of Mariah’s savvy Great Aunt Mae, a wise young skateboarder named Paul Henle, and Shirley Raft, Mae’s oddball best friend. Readers may think that Mariah should stand out more in the ’50s, but thanks to her knowledge of history (and her use of present-day Google), she makes minimal slips—other than trying to pass her cellphone off as a compact.

A promising series debut that will make readers eagerly await the next volume.

Pub Date: April 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-980611-85-1

Page Count: 235

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2018

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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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.


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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