An emotional portrait of three women dealing with unexpected change.

THE LOCKHART WOMEN

A family is thrown into chaos in 1990s Southern California in Camarillo’s debut historical novel.

On June 17, 1994—the same day that O.J. Simpson fled police in a white Ford Bronco—Brenda Lockhart attends a party and learns that her husband, Frank, is having an affair. He soon moves out of their house, leaving Brenda to care for their two teenage daughters, Allison and Peggy, a task for which she isn’t very skilled—particularly as the household takes a financial hit. Practical, organized Peggy wants to be an accountant but ends up working with her father at the post office after she turns 18. She has an affair with an older co-worker who’s uninterested in commitment, and the fallout from the relationship further complicates her plans. Flighty Allison is dating a surfer named Kevin Nelsonthat none of her family members like, but that only seems to increase his appeal in her eyes. She lives with his family for a time, but Kevin is abusive, and Allison blames herself for his behavior. She also shoplifts and gets mixed up with Kevin’s family’s drug business—all of which eventually catches up with her. Throughout, Brenda obsesses over every detail of the Simpson case as more details are revealed, neglecting to shower or do household chores. All three women must find ways to navigate themselves out of difficult situations. Brenda comes off as judgmental and unwilling to compromise at first, and as a result, readers may find her cold and unsympathetic. However, as the novel progresses, she matures as a character, moving to a more affordable place to live, finding a job, and becoming a more attentive mother. The author uses the Simpson trial as an indicator for Brenda’s growth; by the time the verdict is rendered, she’s doing better for herself than when the legal proceedings began, and she’s less consumed by them. Peggy and Allison aren’t always likable, either, but they also learn to make better decisions, and the novel’s ending is a satisfying one.

An emotional portrait of three women dealing with unexpected change.

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64742-100-7

Page Count: 342

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2021

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The most comforting of comfort-food reading—with a few chills for fun.

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LEGACY

Roberts sticks to formula in this romantic thriller—which should please fans and newcomers alike.

The only daughter of a woman with a wildly successful fitness company, 7-year-old Adrian Rizzo is used to traveling with her mother for videos and photo shoots, the child star of the brand. But everything changes one night when a man breaks into their house, confronts her mother for destroying his marriage, and then dies in a fall down the stairs. Adrian spends the summer with her beloved grandparents, enjoying the idyllic pace of small-town life and making some strong connections. Several years later, teenage Adrian gains the confidence to start her own business with the help of some high school misfits who become her best friends. Fast-forward a few years: Adrian’s grandmother dies in an accident followed by the death of a friend's wife. Adrian decides to move in with her grandfather and to finally make a home. As frequently happens in Roberts’ novels, Adrian's friends all end up living nearby, and they create a loyal, loving network that sees them all through marriage, birth, loss, success, and the other touchstones of maturity. In the background lurks a threat, though: For years, Adrian has been receiving disturbing letters signed only "The Poet," and they begin to arrive more frequently. Adrian’s perfect, messy, successful life—and blossoming relationship—may be in danger from this psychopath, but her friends and family will be there to support and protect her to the happiest of endings. If you're a fan of Roberts’ thrillers, the structure of this novel will bring few surprises, but the familiarity is comforting. Roberts’ strength has always been her ability to create likable, complex characters, and this crew is even more appealing than most—they are never whiny in insecurity or snobbish in success; rather, they provide unwavering support for each other’s ups and downs.

The most comforting of comfort-food reading—with a few chills for fun.

Pub Date: May 25, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2502-7293-5

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

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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