Numerous exotic locales can’t bring heat to this long-simmering thriller.

READ REVIEW

HUNTED

A man finds himself on the wrong side of an unhinged thief in this thriller by the author of Superheat (2012).

In 1970, Randy Capra is an unemployed chemical engineer from Ohio. With the Vietnam War slowing down, he’s been laid off by Numex Chemicals. He and his girlfriend, Sally Sohlar, have moved to San Francisco to start their lives over. At a New Year's Eve party, Randy encounters a friend from Kent State University named “Cousin” Stoner. Through Stoner, Randy meets Uncle Buzz and Casimir “Captain Courageous” Kapowski, who invite him to make “a couple of extra bucks.” The job, about which Randy knows little, is to steal a new Porsche 911 from a dealership. The theft goes smoothly, but when Captain Courageous is later arrested, he assumes Randy ratted him out to the police. Cap has zero tolerance for snitches and plans to eliminate Randy as soon as he makes bail. Meanwhile, Sally and Randy's relationship has deteriorated because only she makes honest, consistent money. Luckily, Randy meets Monique Minet on Pacifica Beach. Her marriage is falling apart, and she takes to Randy immediately. When Randy decides to hop the Capetown Queen passenger ship to Australia, Monique, who has become romantically obsessed with him—and the vengeful Captain Courageous—are in pursuit. Wood’s latest thriller begins strongly as a transporting glimpse into President Richard Nixon's reign: “Economics had trumped peace and love.” California’s beauty steps onstage, as when “the distant Caliente Mountains looked like pink teeth biting into a deep blue sky.” Once Wood’s overseas chase starts, however, drab travel logistics keep the narrative from truly revving up (“She began punching numbers into a mechanical calculator, which clacked each time she pulled the handle”). The aptly named Randy likewise becomes distracting, with women constantly throwing themselves at him. Cap’s criminal origins as a bullied child are well wrought, and San Francisco street races feel like cuts from the action film Bullitt (1968), but Wood’s protagonist isn’t interesting enough to sustain interest for as long as the plot requires.

Numerous exotic locales can’t bring heat to this long-simmering thriller.

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-387-27346-1

Page Count: 278

Publisher: Lulu

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE GLASS HOTEL

A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

When a book has such great comic timing, it's easy to finish the story in one sitting.

THE HONEY-DON'T LIST

A toxic workplace nurtures an intoxicating romance in Lauren’s (The Unhoneymooners, 2019, etc.) latest.

Rusty and Melissa Tripp are the married co-hosts of a successful home-makeover show and have even published a book on marriage. After catching Rusty cheating on Melissa, their assistants, James McCann and Carey Duncan, are forced to give up long-scheduled vacations to go along on their employers' book tour to make sure their marriage doesn’t implode. And the awkwardness is just getting started. Stuck in close quarters with no one to complain to but each other, James and Carey find that the life they dreamed of having might be found at work after all. James learns that Carey has worked for the Tripps since they owned a humble home décor shop in Jackson, Wyoming. Now that the couple is successful, Carey has no time for herself, and she doesn’t get nearly enough credit for her creative contribution to their media empire. Carey also has regular doctor’s appointments for dystonia, a movement disorder, which motivates her to keep her job but doesn’t stop her from doing it well. James was hired to work on engineering and design for the show, but Rusty treats him like his personal assistant. He’d quit, too, but it’s the only job he can get since his former employer was shut down in a scandal. Using a framing device similar to that of Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, the story flashes forward to interview transcripts with the police that hint at a dramatic ending to come, and the chapters often end with gossip in the form of online comments, adding intrigue. Bonding over bad bosses allows James and Carey to stick up for each other while supplying readers with all the drama and wit of the enemies-to-lovers trope.

When a book has such great comic timing, it's easy to finish the story in one sitting.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3864-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more