SUPPORTING THE SKY

The author of The World Around Midnight (1991), etc., earnestly chronicles the trials of a well-meaning liberal mother who has an out-of-control adolescent daughter. Rosemary Kenny lives in downtown D.C. with 16-year-old Shelly, whose father long since suffered a breakdown and retreated to Texas. When Shelly brings home Dee, a handsome, gold-chain-sporting rapper, Rosemary worries that his red sweatsuit means that he's in a gang. But then the young man moves in when his grandmother loses her apartment, and he disproves Rosemary's fears by starting diligently to look for work. Meanwhile, Rosemary has only a tenuous hold on her own job at a p.r. firm, a company perfectly typified by the piranhas the managing director keeps in a tank in his office. The company has just won the account of a violence-torn Caribbean nation, and Rosemary goes about organizing an art show of an island painter. One night, while patrolling with her Neighborhood Watch group, she gets knocked down by Viktor, a Czech journalist chasing a robber. Viktor later sends flowers and seems romantically interested—a terrifying prospect for Rosemary, who hasn't dated in years. Then Dee is arrested for murder. Shooting erupts at Rosemary's art opening. And Viktor persists, offering both sex and solace. The catastrophes, however, only multiply: Rosemary is fired, while Dee is exonerated but falls into smuggling guns. Finally, Rosemary kicks him out, Shelly follows after, and Viktor gets an irresistible job offer in Prague. Although Rosemary's grit and humor are offered up as ballast, and there are hints that she's wise about choosing her battles, there's also something enervating about her response to disaster: She keeps her pain secret, snipes at Shelly, and crawls into bed with a newspaper. While beleaguered mothers of teens may experience multiple twinges of recognition, this litany of urban and parenting tribulations—without the benefit of a compelling protagonist—is more exhausting than moving.

Pub Date: July 2, 1996

ISBN: 0-399-14128-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1996

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Another success for the publishing phenom.

UNDER CURRENTS

An abused boy fights back, escapes, then returns as an attorney to his beloved hometown, but just as he’s falling in love with a transplanted landscaper, a series of attacks from shadowy enemies jeopardizes their happiness.

“From the outside, the house in Lakeview Terrace looked perfect.” Which of course means that it wasn't. We're introduced to the horrifying Dr. Graham Bigelow, who beats his wife and, increasingly as the boy gets older, his son, Zane. On the night of Zane’s prom, a particularly savage attack puts him and his sister in the hospital, and his father blames Zane, landing him in jail. Then his sister stands up for him, enlisting the aid of their aunt, and everything changes, mainly due to Zane’s secret diaries. Nearly 20 years later, Zane leaves a successful career as a lawyer to return to Lakeview, where his aunt and sister live with their families, deciding to hang a shingle as a small-town lawyer. Then he meets Darby McCray, the landscaper who’s recently relocated and taken the town by storm, starting with the transformation of his family’s rental bungalows. The two are instantly intrigued by each other, but they move slowly into a relationship neither is looking for. Darby has a violent past of her own, so she is more than willing to take on the risk of antagonizing a boorish local family when she and Zane help an abused wife. Suddenly Zane and Darby face one attack after another, and even as they grow ever closer under the pressure, the dangers become more insidious. Roberts’ latest title feels a little long and the story is slightly cumbersome, but her greatest strength is in making the reader feel connected to her characters, so “unnecessary details” can also charm and engage.

Another success for the publishing phenom.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-20709-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

OUTFOX

An FBI agent is determined to catch a man who bilks and murders wealthy women, but the chase goes slowly.

Brown (Tailspin, 2018, etc.) has published 70 bestsellers, and this one employs her usual template of thriller spiked with romance. Its main character, Drex Easton, is an FBI agent in pursuit of a serial killer, but for him it’s personal. When he was a boy, his mother left him and his father for another man, Weston Graham. Drex believes Graham murdered her and that he has killed at least seven more women after emptying their bank accounts. Now he thinks he has the clever Graham—current alias Jasper Ford—in his sights, and he’s willing to put his career at risk to catch him. The women Ford targets are wealthy, and his new prey is no exception—except that, uncharacteristically, he has married her. Talia Ford proves to be a complication for Drex, who instantly falls in lust with her even though he’s not at all sure she isn’t her husband's accomplice. Posing as a would-be novelist, Drex moves into an apartment next door to the Fords’ posh home and tries to ingratiate himself, but tensions rise immediately—Jasper is suspicious, and Talia has mixed feelings about Drex's flirtatious behavior. When Talia’s fun-loving friend Elaine Conner turns up dead after a cruise on her yacht and Jasper disappears, Drex and Talia become allies. There are a few action sequences and fewer sex scenes, but the novel’s pace bogs down repeatedly in long, mundane conversations. Drex's two FBI agent sidekicks are more interesting characters than he is; Drex himself is such a caricature of a macho man, so heedless of ethics, and so aggressive toward women that it’s tough to see him as a good guy. Brown adds a couple of implausible twists at the very end that make him seem almost as untrustworthy as Graham.

This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4555-7219-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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