A sharp, edgy caper with a final surprise.

A MISTAKE INCOMPLETE

A dark novel brings together a collection of emotionally compromised characters whose lives unfortunately intersect in Italy.

Stefano Orso, who is beginning to age out of the escort market, is in Berlin when readers meet him. He is there to steal a wooden box. Now supplementing his dwindling income by moving into the burglary business, he is carrying out an assignment for a dangerous man known only as Flavio. But things go very wrong, and Stef barely escapes, empty-handed. Thus begins a series of misadventures. Stef flies home to Milan. There, he runs into Beatrice at a gathering, where she mistakenly thought she was going to hook up with a man named Paolo she had been flirting with online. As it turns out, Paolo is there with Elena, a beautiful, elegant designer who travels with a coterie of admirers. When Stef—with whom Beatrice had enjoyed a short, ill-fated affair years ago—unexpectedly joins the group, she decides to renew their acquaintance. There is an instant magnetism between the two, an attraction she will have reason to rue. Petruzziello’s narrative is a meandering, vicarious, touristy escapade through Milan featuring the city’s architectural and artistic highlights as well as upscale eateries, quirky nightclubs, and one local bar where Beatrice waitresses. In the restroom of this bar, Stef discovers an apparently dead patron, who fell and hit his head on the washroom sink. Afraid of calling the police, Stef convinces Beatrice to help him dispose of the corpse, involving her in a twisty plot in which nothing goes as planned—especially after the body reappears at the bar. With a talent for piercing the vainglorious veneer of his hapless protagonists, the author lightens the murder-and-mayhem action with biting humor. Readers know who Stef is from the first page, when, in the middle of the Berlin burglary, he pauses to gaze at his satisfying reflection in the mirror: “He just couldn’t help himself.” Morose secondary character Kevin Benton, an American unwittingly ensnared by Flavio, serves as the vehicle for the moody tale’s one serious message.

A sharp, edgy caper with a final surprise.

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73506-542-7

Page Count: 344

Publisher: Magnusmade

Review Posted Online: Dec. 31, 2020

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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE

In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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