A brisk and entertaining read; less a mystery than an affecting character study and rumination on letting go of the past.

ON GROVE STREET

A NOVELLA

An investigation into two murders in California leads to a house on the titular street, where both victims once lived, in this novella.

The year is 1991. On a San Francisco street, Ian Christian Hamilton is cut down by two bullets. Two days later, in Sonoma, popular musician Edward Hayes is found brutally murdered in his home recording studio. Sonoma County Deputy Sheriff Ben Hyatt comes across a journal that indicates that Hayes and Hamilton were roommates 22 years earlier. He contacts San Francisco Detective Joe D’Alessandro, who is weeks away from mandatory retirement. “Maybe you and I are looking for the same somebody,” Hyatt clues him in. As they track down leads, events unfold through Hayes’ journal entries, which include love letters and magazine clippings, and time shifts that reveal the who and why. One acquaintance refers to the victims as “harmless oddballs.” They are anything but. Hamilton was a wealthy sociopath (notes his ex-wife: “I once asked him where he got the idea he could do whatever he wanted. He said, ‘Where do you get the idea I can’t’ ”). Hayes, disowned by his own wealthy father after being outed as gay, was a prodigious musical talent and seemed poised for stardom after teaming with David Copeland, another Grove Street roommate and a gifted songwriter. (Rolling Stone magazine compares Copeland to James Taylor.) Copeland, much to Hayes’ distress, is focused on teaching and his girlfriend, Kate Anderson. In his enjoyable tale, Mayfield (In the Driver’s Seat, 2011) has an engaging, crisp, spare style when it comes to dialogue that drives the story forward, as in this introductory exchange between “crusty old-timer” D’Alessandro and Hyatt: “You married?” “Not anymore.” “Veteran?” “Army. Vietnam. Infantry.” “Army. Korea. Infantry.” This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship, and if they are teamed up again, one hopes they are given more to do. Readers—privy to information they don’t have—will be mostly one step ahead of them.

A brisk and entertaining read; less a mystery than an affecting character study and rumination on letting go of the past.

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5449-8467-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 25, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE GIVER OF STARS

Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

MAGIC HOUR

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more