Keen comedy redeems an overly congested—albeit, briskly paced—murder plot.

Deadly as Angels

A debut novel offers a hard-boiled detective story, punched up with some witty repartee—and sexual tension—between investigative partners.

Helene Stoner, a young, troubled girl, turns up dead at the Port Authority Terminal in New York City, mysteriously murdered. Her estranged father, Harcourt T. Stoner, an affluent baron of business, recruits two private investigators, Jessica Horowitz and Matt Redman, to find the killer. Autopsy results reveal that Helene gave birth to a child, and Harcourt wants them to track the kid down as well, if he or she remains alive. Meanwhile, Redman, a computer security expert, helps the IRS determine the source of a corrosive virus running rampant through its technology. The pair uncover a connection between Helene and Estella Malkin, a psychologically unhinged contract killer, who unfortunately dies before she can disclose any useful information. But Horowitz and Redman discover that Estella had donated significant sums of money to a charitable organization called Helping Hand Home, which provides assistance to erstwhile prostitutes and wayward girls. This leads them to a cultish organization in New Hampshire run by a charismatic leader, whose mission in life seems to be to prey upon vulnerable young women. The two parallel stories—the murder of Helene and the virus decimating IRS computers—finally converge in an unpredictable twist. It’s remarkable how much is packed into what is essentially a novella, but the price of unpredictability is a plot riddled with convolution and implausibility. The banter between the two protagonists can be genuinely sharp and funny, highlighting the barely suppressed romantic magnetism. They form an unlikely pair—she’s a Jewish ex-cop and he’s a black military veteran—but their chemistry is palpable. The dialogue sometimes reads like a parody of old pulp fiction mysteries, overwritten and excessively cute: “ ‘Freeze,’ Boris snapped. Matt was still trying to look up her tank top. ‘Or do you vant to choin your spirit friend, Zimru?’ Boris’ face did not inspire chumminess. Neither did the gun in his hand. She froze.” The pace is unyielding, and the authors manage to turn grim topics—murder and the systematic exploitation of young women—into fodder for comedy. This is a fun, if uninspired, iteration of a shopworn genre.

Keen comedy redeems an overly congested—albeit, briskly paced—murder plot.

Pub Date: March 8, 2016


Page Count: 225

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2016

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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.


Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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