For all these dire portents, Traxler conscientiously prevents the hints of full-throated melodrama from ever taking flight....

BLOOD

Poet and storyteller Traxler packs the heroine of her first novel off to Cambridge for a fellowship whose turbulent course will be anything but academic.

All her life, from her childhood with her widowed mother in Santa Monica to her work as the head of the Aperçu Press’s design department, Honora Blume’s painting has taken a backseat to something else. Now that she’s approaching midlife, her yearlong appointment as a Larkin fellow at Radcliffe has finally made it possible for her to spend the days at the Larkin center with other gifted women and her nights in her Brattle Street apartment painting. For better or worse, she’ll also be close to Michael Sullivan, a rising author for whose novel she provided the cover illustration—and with whom she’s been carrying on a secret romance for over a year. Norrie’s continuing affair with Michael, who insists that he’s going to tell his investment-banker wife of 25 years that he’s leaving her and their two teenaged children as soon as the time is right, offers both inspiration for and distraction from her painting, which Traxler details with darkly glowing precision. But despite her passionate, imaginatively varied interludes with Michael—presented in equally absorbing detail—it’s her Larkin neighbors in Brattle Street, especially Chilean journalist Clara Brava and Nobel Prize nominee Devi Bhujander, who’ll have the decisive impact on her. Early hints of violent death to come insure a frisson whenever there’s a rustling at the door, and Norrie wonders whether it’s the men responsible for a rash of burglaries or the clinging-vine Clara, who may be even more dangerous.

For all these dire portents, Traxler conscientiously prevents the hints of full-throated melodrama from ever taking flight. Her deeper evocation of the ecstatic waking nightmare of love, friendship, and artistic creation, however, rings true to the end.

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2001

ISBN: 0-312-27484-X

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

The characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once...

DELIVER US FROM EVIL

In Baldacci’s 19th (True Blue, 2009, etc.), boy and girl monster-hunters meet cute.

Evan Waller, aka Fadir Kuchin, aka “the Butcher of Kiev,” aka “the Ukrainian psychopath,” is one of those deep-dyed villains a certain kind of fiction can’t do without. Serving with distinction as part of the Soviet Union’s KGB, he joyfully and indiscriminately killed thousands. Now, many years later, posing as a successful businessman, he’s vacationing in Provence where, unbeknownst to him, two separate clandestine operations are being mounted by people who do not regard him with favor. Reggie Campion—28 and gorgeous—spearheads the first, an ad hoc group of monster-hunting vigilantes. Studly, tall Shaw (no first name supplied) is point guard for a rival team, shadowy enough to leave the matter of its origin ambiguous. While their respective teams reconnoiter and jockey for position, studly boy meets gorgeous girl. Monster-hunters are famous for having trust issues, but clearly these are drawn to each other in the time-honored Hollywood fashion. Shaw saves Reggie’s life. She returns the favor. The attraction deepens and heats up to the point where team-members on both sides grow unsettled by the loss of focus, singularly inopportune since, as monsters go, Waller rises to the second coming of Caligula—ample testimony furnished by a six-page, unsparingly detailed torture scene. In the end, the stalkers strike, bullets fly, screams curdle the blood, love has its innings and a monster does what a monster’s got to do.

The characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once again show the stuff it’s made of.

Pub Date: April 20, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-446-56408-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Avon A/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2010

Did you like this book?

more