Fernández is emerging as a major voice in South American letters, and this slender but rich story shows why.


Chilean actor and novelist Fernández continues her project of lifting the veil on the dark years of Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship.

As in Fernández’s previous novel, Space Invaders (2019)—note the two pop-culture titles—the story moves about in great leaps from decade to decade. It opens in 1984, when a man enters the Santiago office of a magazine and asks to speak to the author of a story that centers on him. “Andrés Antonio Valenzuela Morales, Soldier First Class, ID #39432, district of La Ligua,” wants to speak about what he has done on behalf of the regime, “about making people disappear.” He has a dossier running page after page, giving names, recounting how they were tortured, his victims now denizens of “some parallel reality” that suggests to the narrator an extended episode of the old creature-feature series The Twilight Zone. A quarter-century passes, and now the narrator encounters the killer again, this time as she is writing a television series about the era, one of the characters based on him. He recounts watching the protest marches by the mothers of los desaparecidos, who hoist poster-sized photographs of their loved ones: “They don’t realize that I know where that person is,” he says, “I know what happened to him.” Enumerating the victims is a process that absorbs both characters, moving between past and present, when the state-sponsored murderer escapes to rural France: “Will he be able to change the shadows of things to come? He wants to believe he will, that he has the right to a change of skin.” Fernández’s story has shades of the cat-and-mouse mystery, her touchstones emblems of mass global culture: episodes of The Twilight Zone, to be sure, but also old movies and, of course, the video games of the era: “On the same television screen where we used to play Space Invaders, we now saw the national police agents responsible for the murders.”

Fernández is emerging as a major voice in South American letters, and this slender but rich story shows why.

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64445-047-5

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Graywolf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.


An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.


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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