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NICKED

An always entertaining and unexpectedly poignant adventure as rare and gleaming as a reliquary.

A cloistered monk and a relic hunter must work together to steal St. Nicholas’ bones in this enthralling work of historical fiction based on true events.

In the midst of a 1087 pox outbreak in Bari, Italy, the terminally honest Brother Nicephorus dreams of St. Nicholas. While Nicephorus interprets the vision as an exhortation to leave the abbey and minister to the sick, his abbott and other town leaders see it as a saintly cry for help: Nicholas is clearly unhappy with his current resting place in Myra and wishes for his mystically healing bones to be brought to Bari. After a speedy vetting process, the sly Tartar Tyun is hired to relocate the holy corpse, with Nicephorus supervising to make sure the treasure hunter holds up his end of the bargain. On a ship teeming with odd and imposing crew members from across Europe and Asia, the unlikely pair sets out to burgle St. Nicholas Church. Mishaps and acts of derring-do, interspersed with tales of St. Nicholas’ miracles, ensue. In a novel this funny, it would be all too easy to let an omniscient, present-day narrator earn laughs at the expense of its characters’ outdated beliefs, but Anderson instead approaches the medieval with curiosity and compassion. Here is a world where spiritual scammers might live alongside genuine dog-men and where devotion to the body—living or dead—can be serious, sensual, and irreverent. This, plus rich prose (“the company of relic thieves appeared like this to him, scattered, tenuous; for the victory feast of one creature, he knew well, was always the corpse of another”) and a queer slowest-of-slow burns, should shoot this to the top of a heist lover’s to-read list.

An always entertaining and unexpectedly poignant adventure as rare and gleaming as a reliquary.

Pub Date: July 23, 2024

ISBN: 9780593701607

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2024

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THE GOD OF THE WOODS

"Don't go into the woods" takes on unsettling new meaning in Moore's blend of domestic drama and crime novel.

Many years after her older brother, Bear, went missing, Barbara Van Laar vanishes from the same sleepaway camp he did, leading to dark, bitter truths about her wealthy family.

One morning in 1975 at Camp Emerson—an Adirondacks summer camp owned by her family—it's discovered that 13-year-old Barbara isn't in her bed. A problem case whose unhappily married parents disdain her goth appearance and "stormy" temperament, Barbara is secretly known by one bunkmate to have slipped out every night after bedtime. But no one has a clue where's she permanently disappeared to, firing speculation that she was taken by a local serial killer known as Slitter. As Jacob Sluiter, he was convicted of 11 murders in the 1960s and recently broke out of prison. He's the one, people say, who should have been prosecuted for Bear's abduction, not a gardener who was framed. Leave it to the young and unproven assistant investigator, Judy Luptack, to press forward in uncovering the truth, unswayed by her bullying father and male colleagues who question whether women are "cut out for this work." An unsavory group portrait of the Van Laars emerges in which the children's father cruelly abuses their submissive mother, who is so traumatized by the loss of Bear—and the possible role she played in it—that she has no love left for her daughter. Picking up on the themes of families in search of themselves she explored in Long Bright River (2020), Moore draws sympathy to characters who have been subjected to spousal, parental, psychological, and physical abuse. As rich in background detail and secondary mysteries as it is, this ever-expansive, intricate, emotionally engaging novel never seems overplotted. Every piece falls skillfully into place and every character, major and minor, leaves an imprint.

"Don't go into the woods" takes on unsettling new meaning in Moore's blend of domestic drama and crime novel.

Pub Date: July 2, 2024

ISBN: 9780593418918

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2024

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SANDWICH

A moving, hilarious reminder that parenthood, just like life, means constant change.

During an annual beach vacation, a mother confronts her past and learns to move forward.

Her family’s annual trip to Cape Cod is always the highlight of Rocky’s year—even more so now that her children are grown and she cherishes what little time she gets with them. Rocky is deep in the throes of menopause, picking fights with her loving husband and occasionally throwing off her clothes during a hot flash, much to the chagrin of her family. She’s also dealing with her parents, who are crammed into the same small summer house (with one toilet that only occasionally spews sewage everywhere) and who are aging at an alarmingly rapid rate. Rocky’s life is full of change, from her body to her identity—she frequently flashes back to the vacations of years past, when her children were tiny. Although she’s grateful for the family she has, she mourns what she’s lost. Newman (author of the equally wonderful We All Want Impossible Things, 2022) imbues Rocky’s internal struggles with importance and gravity, all while showcasing her very funny observations about life and parenting. She examines motherhood with a raw honesty that few others manage—she remembers the hard parts, the depths of despair, panic, and anxiety that can happen with young children, and she also recounts the joy in a way that never feels saccharine. She has a gift for exploring the real, messy contradictions in human emotions. As Rocky puts it, “This may be the only reason we were put on this earth. To say to each other, I know how you feel.”

A moving, hilarious reminder that parenthood, just like life, means constant change.

Pub Date: June 18, 2024

ISBN: 9780063345164

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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