A slow, but ultimately rewarding tale of a lonely psychologist and her poetic client.

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Marcel Malone

A novel examines a clinical psychologist, the healing power of verse, and a journey to self-discovery.

Life for Vera Lewis is unsatisfying. A typical evening begins with too many glasses of Chablis and ends with “clearing up dishes and misunderstandings with Raymond,” her egocentric Washington lobbyist spouse. After one client commits suicide and another is convicted of violent crimes, she questions her merit as a psychologist. She’s unable to connect with those around her, and conversations with friends and co-workers are brimming with thoughts unsaid. In short, Vera longs for more: “I would like to be filled with passion, for my work, my husband, to feel a constant tingle in my hands as though I were touching skin.” The only person who can break through the monotony is Marcel Malone, a painfully shy client who expresses himself through sonnets, haiku, and carefully metered speech. In an effort to better understand him, Vera, too, immerses herself in the world of poetry. Watts (Lessons for Tangueros, 2011) is a Ph.D., and this is where his background in academia bleeds through. Disappointed at the selections in a certain anthology or a dull chapter that she had to skim through, Vera embarks on one-sided arguments with scholars that read like a review of literature. In the midst of her adventures in verse, Vera is increasingly haunted by her past and disenchanted with her marriage, becoming dependent on sessions with Marcel. Jealous of his gradual recovery, she spirals into near-alcoholism, solitude, and self-doubt. At times, it can be hard to empathize with Vera. She is reserved, formal, and relentlessly analytical. Her world is one of white affluence—lunches at exclusive restaurants, bottles of expensive wine, showy dinner parties, and friends who are World Bank executives. But she is vindicated in the book’s final chapters, which offer a glimpse into life’s beauty and the opportunities for redemption. A dense and loaded work of fiction, this cerebral novel should certainly appeal to intellectuals and fans of feminist literature.

A slow, but ultimately rewarding tale of a lonely psychologist and her poetic client.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9973102-2-1

Page Count: 282

Publisher: Red Mountain Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 29, 2016

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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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THE POET

Connelly takes a break from his Harry Bosch police novels (The Last Coyote, p. 328, etc.) for something even more intense: a reporter's single-minded pursuit of the serial killer who murdered his twin. Even his buddies in the Denver PD thought Sean McEvoy's shooting in the backseat of his car looked like a classic cop suicide, right clown to the motive: his despondency over his failure to clear the murder of a University of Denver student. But as Sean's twin brother, Jack, of the Rocky Mountain News, notices tiny clues that marked Sean's death as murder, his suspicions about the dying message Sean scrawled inside his fogged windshield—"Out of space. Out of time"—alert him to a series of eerily similar killings stretching from Sarasota to Albuquerque. The pattern, Jack realizes, involves two sets of murders: a series of sex killings of children, and then the executions (duly camouflaged as suicides) of the investigating police officers. Armed with what he's dug up, Jack heads off to Washington, to the Law Enforcement Foundation and the FBI. The real fireworks begin as Jack trades his official silence for an inside role in the investigation, only to find himself shut out of both the case and the story. From then on in, Jack, falling hard for Rachel Walling, the FBI agent in charge of the case, rides his Bureau connections like a bucking bronco—even as one William Gladden, a pedophile picked up on a low-level charge in Santa Monica, schemes to make bail before the police can run his prints through the national computer, then waits with sick patience for his chance at his next victim. The long-awaited confrontation between Jack and Gladden comes at an LA video store; but even afterward, Jack's left with devastating questions about the case. Connelly wrings suspense out of every possible aspect of Jack's obsessive hunt for his brother's killer. Prepare to be played like a violin.

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 1996

ISBN: 0-316-15398-2

Page Count: 440

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1995

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