An unhurried tale that makes its enthralling characters the biggest mystery of all.



A small-town journalist digs into an old assault case, in which the mayor’s improper conduct may prove detrimental to her gubernatorial run, in this third installment of a series.

Reporter/editor Nathan Hawke may have something juicy for the Weekly Clarion, the Vermont newspaper he manages. An anonymous caller tells him that nine years ago Mayor Martha Bennett convinced two witnesses not to testify against an assailant in custody. The attacker was (allegedly) Garth Egan, whom cops recently arrested for rape and murder. As the source won’t even tell Nathan the victim’s name from the older case, the reporter turns to Egan’s defense lawyer back then: the journalist’s now-retired father, Jonas. But Jonas maintains his vow of confidentiality, which includes not disclosing the identities of the victim or her brother, the witness who stopped the attack. Nathan wants something more substantial before confronting Bennett, whose bid for governor and the upcoming election will likely keep her mum. As Nathan searches for the siblings, Jonas’ uncertainty over helping his son is compounded by the fact that an attorney from his old firm is representing Egan in the murder trial. Nathan knows his potential story could affect the election’s outcome—and also hurt a few people along the way. Though a reporter investigating political deceit has all the makings of a mystery, Willen (Hawke’s Return, 2017, etc.) zeros in on the characters. Melodrama reigns: Jonas and his friend Mary Louise, a live-in cook/former prostitute, care for young Max while the boy’s father, Dylan Walker, works as Bennett’s press secretary. Relationships are complicated and some characters are flawed; Jonas, who lost his wife and a son, has battled alcoholism. But even if Nathan’s investigation spawns few surprises, characters traverse a dense and intriguing morally gray area. Nathan, for example, tries changing the mind of someone who doesn’t want the case dredged up again. Nevertheless, characters sharing so many qualities results in some redundancies: pregnancies, widowers whose wives succumbed to cancer, and quite a number of extramarital affairs.

An unhurried tale that makes its enthralling characters the biggest mystery of all.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68313-162-5

Page Count: 310

Publisher: Pen-L Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2018

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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