A gnarly, satisfying caper set among moviemakers in Hollywood.


A key grip trying to write a script gets sucked into a strange conspiracy in this comic crime novel. 

Sam Agonistes does his own stunts. Not movie stunts, of course. Just the garden-variety, impulsive, middle-aged dude kind: “Like the time I got up on an overfilled recycling bin to stomp down the cardboard boxes and ended up flat on my back in the driveway....Or the time I decided the best way to get rid of the Christmas tree was to shove it in the fireplace and put a match to it.” A Hollywood grip–turned-screenwriter, Sam has the assurance that if he can simply compose the right script, superstar Shemahn will finance and star in the movie. The only problem? He hasn’t got the slightest idea of what to write. His writer’s block is interrupted by the appearance of a beautiful, much younger woman at his front door. Petunia Biggars tells him that she’s in danger and that he is too, though Sam—wary of a con job—sends her on her way. Sam is already distracted from dealing with his ex-wife and adult children, particularly his son, Atticus, whose anger is keeping him from professional and personal success. A few days later, some men in an SUV bearing Glocks show up, and Sam realizes that Petunia might have been correct. Luckily—or unluckily—Sam may be just the right kind of impulsive man to survive this outlandish Hollywood happening. Rowland’s (King Me, 2009) prose is laden with references to films and the people who make them—appropriate given the protagonist’s line of work. At one point, Sam muses: “Debbie Fisher practically potty-trained my daughter; Gregory Peck was an honorary godfather to our son….You get the picture. Sure, my Ex’s father wasn’t a Westmore—and her mother wasn’t a Salad Sister—but she had a hairstyling pedigree that predated Technicolor.” Some of the author’s stylistic choices, like the absence of quotation marks, make the plot a bit difficult to follow, but the beats will be recognizable to those familiar with fish-out-of-water crime novels. Similar to The Big Lebowski and Inherent Vice, Sam’s tale is a slacker detective story that will likely appeal the most to men of his same generation and cultural reference points.

A gnarly, satisfying caper set among moviemakers in Hollywood.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: 184

Publisher: Manuscript

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2020

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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.


Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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