A brutal political battle that may be too much for some readers.



Midden’s (One Voice Too Many, 2011, etc.) deeply disturbing novel about the fracturing of modern America opens with Joe Biden’s nightmare of Barack Obama’s assassination.

Coming out of the divisive real-life landscape of politics in the past decade, this macabre tale revolves around a U.S.-based insurrection, the likes of which has not been seen since the Civil War. In an attempt to gain power and enable the country to be remade, a handful of influential businessmen, clergymen and others—some of whom fit the M.O. of Donald Trump, Glenn Beck and Ann Coulter—plan the hostile takeover of several key government institutions, including Fort Knox and the Capitol, as well as dissenting men and women, such as some professors and elected officials. Rev. Abner Bellamy of Georgia, brothers George and David Blinder, and Daniel Keenan each undergo the same shirking of faith in government—supposedly emblematic of the real anger of the political right—and lead the rebellious Sovereign Citizens group. Harvey Winkelstein, a gunrunner and physics professor, provides the ammo. On the other side, a handful of valiant operatives under Max Grabel of the CIA, his contract worker Marie LeBrun, and her lover and PI/contract worker, Samantha Stranger, work diligently to find out just who’s leading the scheme and how it can be stopped. Interlaced with informative exposition designed to further detail the political context, the narrative can sometimes sound like a flat professor: “Ultimately, it was this group that determined that the time was ripe for an escalation of hostilities and an outright dismantling of the United States of America.” Overall, though, the plot moves with enough speed to keep readers engaged. With an abrupt cliffhanger, the story doesn’t quite come together in the end—it’s as though readers are watching Zero Dark Thirty without knowing the crucial outcome—but Midden’s underlying aim of establishing the angry, partisan undertones of the current political climate is remarkably effective. This battle isn’t for the faint of heart, however, as the surreal yet eerily plausible extension of current politics will elicits some chills.

A brutal political battle that may be too much for some readers.

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2012


Page Count: 313

Publisher: Wittmann Blair

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2013

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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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A flabby, fervid melodrama of a high-strung Southern family from Conroy (The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline), whose penchant for overwriting once again obscures a genuine talent. Tom Wingo is an unemployed South Carolinian football coach whose internist wife is having an affair with a pompous cardiac man. When he hears that his fierce, beautiful twin sister Savannah, a well-known New York poet, has once again attempted suicide, he escapes his present emasculation by flying north to meet Savannah's comely psychiatrist, Susan Lowenstein. Savannah, it turns out, is catatonic, and before the suicide attempt had completely assumed the identity of a dead friend—the implication being that she couldn't stand being a Wingo anymore. Susan (a shrink with a lot of time on her hands) says to Tom, "Will you stay in New York and tell me all you know?" and he does, for nearly 600 mostly-bloated pages of flashbacks depicting The Family Wingo of swampy Colleton County: a beautiful mother, a brutal shrimper father (the Great Santini alive and kicking), and Tom and Savannah's much-admired older brother, Luke. There are enough traumas here to fall an average-sized mental ward, but the biggie centers around Luke, who uses the skills learned as a Navy SEAL in Vietnam to fight a guerrilla war against the installation of a nuclear power plant in Colleton and is killed by the authorities. It's his death that precipitates the nervous breakdown that costs Tom his job, and Savannah, almost, her life. There may be a barely-glimpsed smaller novel buried in all this succotash (Tom's marriage and life as a football coach), but it's sadly overwhelmed by the book's clumsy central narrative device (flashback ad infinitum) and Conroy's pretentious prose style: ""There are no verdicts to childhood, only consequences, and the bright freight of memory. I speak now of the sun-struck, deeply lived-in days of my past.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1986

ISBN: 0553381547

Page Count: 686

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1986

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