A great read, full of local color, from an author to watch.

READ REVIEW

THE OLD NIGHT OF YOUR NAME

In Leahy’s intriguing debut mystery, an officer searches for a missing hunting guide in the wilderness of southeastern Alaska and uncovers secrets and lies among a village’s residents.

Life isn’t easy in the tiny village of Yakutuk. For starters, there’s the unforgiving Alaskan wilderness and its dark, frigid winters. There are multigenerational racial conflicts festering between the native people and non-natives, as well as conflicts between the poor and the not-as-poor. Add an abundance of alcohol and guns, many more men than women and an American West mythology. Men are definitely men in Yakutuk, but Norma Faunce, this novel’s female main character, refuses to be pushed around. Faunce, Yakutuk’s newly named peace officer, leads an investigation to find out what happened to the fearless, skilled hunter Ward Hubble. In a village where everyone has enemies, ex-Marine Norma is universally liked. She’s always been able to navigate the uncertain territory between the Yakutuk’s Tlingit residents and the whites and between its most unsavory elements and its upstanding citizens. But is Norma up to the task of solving a murder case? The author confidently portrays harsh Alaskan village life with verisimilitude, offering a sort of noir version of Cicely, Alaska—the charming fictional town in the 1990s TV show Northern Exposure. (For the record, Yakutuk, Alaska, doesn’t exist; however, Yakutat, in the same region, is a real place.) The village’s quirky, eccentric characters harbor burning resentments and hatreds, but many band together when the need arises. First-person narrator Norma takes readers along on her uneasy quest to solve Hubble’s disappearance as she unearths layers of family secrets, infidelities and blood feuds. She harbors her own contradictions and surprises but remains consistently well-drawn and believable throughout the novel. The book’s poetic title and its acknowledgement to poet Rainer Maria Rilke are a bit odd and the only discordant notes in an otherwise well-balanced narrative. Overall, the story’s steady pacing, complex characters and suspense will likely draw readers in.

A great read, full of local color, from an author to watch.

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-1478259695

Page Count: 234

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Slow moving and richly layered.

THE SEARCHER

A retired cop takes one last case in this stand-alone novel from the creator of the Dublin Murder Squad.

Originally from North Carolina, Cal Hooper has spent the last 30 years in Chicago. “A small place. A small town in a small country”: That’s what he’s searching for when he moves to the West of Ireland. His daughter is grown, his wife has left him, so Cal is on his own—until a kid named Trey starts hanging around. Trey’s brother is missing. Everyone believes that Brendan has run off just like his father did, but Trey thinks there’s more to the story than just another young man leaving his family behind in search of money and excitement in the city. Trey wants the police detective who just emigrated from America to find out what’s really happened to Brendan. French is deploying a well-worn trope here—in fact, she’s deploying a few. Cal is a new arrival to an insular community, and he’s about to discover that he didn’t leave crime and violence behind when he left the big city. Cal is a complex enough character, though, and it turns out that the mystery he’s trying to solve is less shocking than what he ultimately discovers. French's latest is neither fast-paced nor action-packed, and it has as much to do with Cal’s inner life as it does with finding Brendan. Much of what mystery readers are looking for in terms of action is squeezed into the last third of the novel, and the morally ambiguous ending may be unsatisfying for some. But French’s fans have surely come to expect imperfect allegiance to genre conventions, and the author does, ultimately, deliver plenty of twists, shocking revelations, and truly chilling moments.

Slow moving and richly layered.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-73-522465-0

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Addressing race, risk, retreat, and the ripple effects of a national emergency, Alam's novel is just in time for this moment.

LEAVE THE WORLD BEHIND

An interrupted family vacation, unexpected visitors, a mysterious blackout—something is happening, and the world may never be the same.

On a reassuringly sunny summer day, Amanda, an account director in advertising; Clay, a college professor; and their children, Archie, 15, and Rose, 13, make their way from Brooklyn to a luxury home (swimming pool! hot tub! marble countertops!) in a remote area of Long Island they’ve rented for a family vacation. Shortly after they arrive, however, the family’s holiday is interrupted by a knock on the door: The house’s owners, a prosperous older Black couple—George Washington and his wife, Ruth—have shown up unannounced because New York City has been plunged into a blackout and their Park Avenue high-rise apartment didn’t feel safe. Soon it becomes clear that the blackout is a symptom (or is it a cause?) of something larger—and nothing is safe. Has there been a nuclear or climate disaster, a war, a terrorist act, a bomb? Alam’s story unfolds like a dystopian fever dream cloaked in the trappings of a dream vacation: Why do hundreds of deer show up in the house’s well-maintained backyard or a flock of bright-pink flamingos frolic in the family pool and then fly away? What is the noise, loud enough to crack glass, that comes, without warning, once and then, later, repeatedly? Is it safer to go back to the city, to civilization, or to remain away, in a world apart? As they search for answers and adjust to what increasingly appears to be a confusing new normal, the two families—one Black, one White; one older, one younger; one rich, one middle-class—are compelled to find community amid calamity, to come together to support each other and survive. As he did in his previous novels, Rich and Pretty (2016) and That Kind of Mother (2018), Alam shows an impressive facility for getting into his characters’ heads and an enviable empathy for their moral shortcomings, emotional limitations, and failures of imagination. The result is a riveting novel that thrums with suspense yet ultimately offers no easy answers—disappointing those who crave them even as it fittingly reflects our time.

Addressing race, risk, retreat, and the ripple effects of a national emergency, Alam's novel is just in time for this moment.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-266763-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more