A compelling tale of revolutionary times with charming main characters.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

A romance-tinged espionage adventure set during the American Revolutionary War.

Philip Parcell was spying for England before he realized that he could make more money selling the names of his fellow spies to Gen. George Washington of the colonial army. Caught by British soldiers in the middle of this endeavor, Philip dies aboard the British ship Jersey, but not before he beseeches fellow prisoner Daniel Alloway to locate Philip’s wife, Becca, and the list of spies’ names. Daniel cleverly escapes the Jersey and heads to Morristown, New Jersey, in search of Becca—more out of a desire for money than any moral obligation. Becca, meanwhile, is living with her mother-in-law, Lady Augusta, when rumors that she ratted out her husband begin to spread through town. This, in turn, leads Washington to ask her to spy for him in New York in exchange for protection. Soon, Daniel agrees to help under the condition that he receive free passage to make “a fresh start somewhere far from here.” Becca and Daniel travel to New York City, where they resume their search for the list—and maybe find some romance along the way; they’re accompanied by Lady Augusta and Annie, the Parcells’ servant. In her debut novel, Becker’s shining prose (“The skulls of the ship’s dead lined the beaches as thick as pumpkins in an autumn field”) pairs well with historical details, such as how New York City became an epicenter for Loyalists due to its British occupation. Familiar figures, such as Washington and Alexander Hamilton, appear alongside fictional players. The relationship between Daniel and Becca has plenty of charm; Becca is shown to be a fierce, smart, and often brave woman who never fit into the society into which she married, while Daniel is painted as clever and humorous even as he grapples with a traumatic past. Becker’s secondary characters are also distinctively portrayed, such as gang leader John Mason, who has ears “shaped like pitcher handles.” Overall, Becker’s thrilling, romantic story will appeal to lovers of early American history.

A compelling tale of revolutionary times with charming main characters.

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-953789-28-0

Page Count: 308

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Sept. 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021


It's hard to read but hard to look away from.

When two women who share a birthday meet, a journalist becomes the subject of her own true-crime mystery.

On their 45th birthdays, Josie Fair and Alix Summer meet at a pub and discover they were born not only on the same day, but in the same hospital. Alix is a successful journalist, and Josie convinces Alix that her story is worth telling: Josie met her husband when she was 13 and he was 40. “I can see that maybe I was being used, that maybe I was even being groomed?” she confesses to Alix. “But that feeling of being powerful, right at the start, when I was still in control. I miss that sometimes. I really do. And what I’d like, more than anything, is to get it back.” From this premise Alix creates a Netflix series, Hi! I’m Your Birthday Twin! which investigates Josie’s life as she reconciles what happened to her as a teen and seeks a new path. With the story unfinished, the narrative unfolds in the present tense, with prose that jingles like song lyrics: “He turns to see if the girl is behind him, and sees her wishy-washy, wavy-wavy, in double vision through the glass windows of the hotel.” Alix is both intrigued and repulsed by Josie, but she initially gives her the benefit of the doubt. After all, Alix’s husband, Nathan, has a drinking problem, and Alix knows what it’s like to be reluctant to leave a bad situation. But Josie seems more interested in being part of Alix’s seemingly glamorous life than she is in fixing her own, and when three people end up dead and Alix’s life is turned upside down, the evidence points to Josie—and turns the TV series into a murder mystery. Transcripts from Alix’s interviews alternate with the narrative, offering increasingly varied perspectives on Josie’s story as told by her neighbors, friends, and family members. With so many versions of events, the ending shatters, leaving readers to decide whose is the truth.

It's hard to read but hard to look away from.

Pub Date: Aug. 8, 2023

ISBN: 9781982179007

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2023


Fascinating main characters and a clever plot add up to an exciting read.

A thriller with bloody murders and plenty of suspects and featuring an unlikely partnership between two FBI investigators.

FBI consultant Amos Decker has a lot on his mind. The huge fellow once played for the Cleveland Browns in the NFL until he received a catastrophic brain injury, leaving him with synesthesia; he sees death as electric blue. More pertinent to the plot, he also has hyperthymesia, or spontaneous and highly accurate recall. On the one hand, his memories can be horrible. He’d once come home to find his wife and daughter murdered, dead in pools of blood. Later, he listens helplessly on the telephone while his ex-partner shoots herself in the mouth. On the other hand, his memory helps him solve every case he's given. Now he's sent to Florida with a brand-new partner, Special Agent Frederica White, to investigate the murder of a federal judge. Both partners are pissed at their last-minute pairing, and they immediately see themselves as a bad fit. White is a diminutive Black single mother of two who has a double black belt in karate “because I hate getting my ass kicked.” (The author doesn't mention Decker's race, but since he's being contrasted with his new partner in every way, perhaps readers are expected to see him as White. Clarity would be nice.) Their case is strange: Judge Julia Cummins was stabbed 10 times and her face covered with a mask, while her bodyguard was shot to death. Decker and White puzzle over the “very contrarian crime scene” where two murders seem to have been committed by two different people in the same place. The plot gets complex, with suspects galore. But the interpersonal dynamic between Decker and White is just as interesting as the solution to the murders, which doesn't come easily. At first, they’d like to be done with each other and go their separate ways. But as they work together, their mutual respect rises and—alas—the tension between them fades almost completely. The pair will make a great series duo, especially if a bit of that initial tension between them returns. And Baldacci shouldn’t give Decker a pass on his tortured memories, because readers enjoy suffering heroes. It's not enough that his near-perfect recall helps him in his job.

Fascinating main characters and a clever plot add up to an exciting read.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5387-1982-4

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2022

Close Quickview