A dark, stylish tale that revels in its ambiguity.

THE SUN CASTS NO SHADOW

A lowly man searches for a way out of a seemingly inescapable City in this dystopian noir.

Wellington Thorneycroft makes his money from stealing, mostly pickpocketing. Many others survive in the enigmatic City by becoming Factory workers. But Thorneycroft is a loner who frequently partakes of alcohol and Ambrosia (a variety of psychoactive pills). One day, he’s taken aback by a strange woman he encounters whose voice he hears in his head: “We’ll escape together.” His friend Dempsey suggests the woman is a nymph called Lilith, one of the compassionate beings whose apparent expulsion from the City coincided with the construction of the Wall. When Felix, the thuggish individual who runs the City, later offers Thorneycroft a job, Lilith’s voice tells him to take it. The gig is nothing new to Thorneycroft, since it involves burglary, until Lilith directs him to a blueprint. He has to hide it from Felix, who quickly discovers he’s stashing it. The blueprint may hold the key to escaping outside the Wall, as scaling it is evidently impossible. With help from Lilith, Thorneycroft undertakes the perilous task of infiltrating the Factory, where the City’s exit ostensibly resides. Richardson coats his short, engaging novel in a gleefully dense atmosphere. Thorneycroft, for example, is periodically in a hazy state, either Ambrosia-induced or involving dreams that sometimes seem more real than not. Likewise, the bleak story is deliberately vague, including the mysterious past event known as the Transformation and Lilith’s evasive responses to Thorneycroft’s questions. But the author gives the City a strong pulse, particularly in the vivid descriptions of its relentless heat: “The room had no windows or air conditioning or even a fan. The air was heavy and hellishly hot, so hot it burned my throat to breathe it.” The indelible ending, despite the resolution, is open to interpretation.

A dark, stylish tale that revels in its ambiguity. (about the author)

Pub Date: June 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-951150-31-0

Page Count: 178

Publisher: New Pulp Press

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2020

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

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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: 978-1-4926-8272-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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

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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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