Deft characterization, wry humor and quiet but momentous scenes of growing affection create a deep-down satisfying novel.


Diamonds in the Sky


Three people—a struggling artist, an unsuccessful writer and an elderly farmer—find an unexpected connection in this warmhearted novel.

Am I the only person on the planet who wants some MAGIC in her life?” wonders Caddy Keyhoe, who sells “earnest footwear” in New Orleans while trying to make it as an artist. She creates collages from discarded shiny materials (“broken mirrors and costume jewelry, colored glass, bicycle reflectors”) that she layers and covers with acrylic. “The point is to look down deep into things,” she writes in an artist’s statement. Alec Rix, with one published novel to his credit, runs a failing bookstore in Columbia, S.C., and writes a little-read blog, along with the occasional freelanced article. Both are nearly 40, feeling frustrated in their work and personal lives. That changes when Caddy dreams of a diamond-shaped UFO and then finds a diamond, “glittering at her feet like a fallen star,” as if just for her. Her art freshly inspired, she contacts Alec after reading his article about a possible UFO sighting over the land of 85-year-old retired farmer Hatchell T. Beckham. When Alec meets Caddy and tells her of a surprising connection between her and Hatch, all their lives are transformed. The magic here isn’t really UFOs but rather the kind that allows the right people to find each other. Harper (Ghost in the Bedroom, 2014, etc.) capably creates fully rounded portraits of her believable, scarred, sometimes-insecure, entirely lovable characters. Hatch, thinking of all he has survived, sometimes kneels and prays when no one can see him: “Humble. Not only out of restrained Presbyterianism, but also because no man making his living by planting seeds in the earth can ever be anything but.” Minor characters also come alive; Caddy’s shoe-store boss and his girlfriend “believe in taking no more from the Earth than what’s strictly necessary: iPhones, mountain bikes, all-natural raw chicken from Whole Foods for their hypothyroid border collie.” The romantic plot is sweet, hot and well-paced.

Deft characterization, wry humor and quiet but momentous scenes of growing affection create a deep-down satisfying novel.

Pub Date: Jan. 25, 2014


Page Count: 259

Publisher: booksBnimble

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.


Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.


Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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