Art history buffs will be elated with this gem, but the bold prose and devotion to the genre is all-inclusive.


As an art curator gets close to finally proving the existence of a long-lost painting, he must fend off accusations of theft and a greedy, dangerous man in Stephano’s debut historical mystery.

Daniel Bradley, curator at the Pitman Art Museum, is traveling to Italy as courier for the Donatello’s Christus, a $50-million statue being loaned for a Donatello exhibit. Daniel is also meeting with his old art history professor, Paolo Bertolini, who relays shocking news—two German brothers claim to have a tondo (circular painting) from Botticelli, one that Daniel, who’d written a book on the artist, surmised was lost more than 500 years ago. But Daniel’s troubles have already started: The Christus is gone from its crate upon arrival in Milan, replaced by a cheap bronze statue, and someone may be framing him for the hefty loss. His situation worsens when Werner, one of the brothers, who’s incurred gambling debts, enters the picture. Werner wants to sell the Botticelli painting for personal gain, and that means threatening Daniel, Paolo and art restorer (and Daniel’s old flame) Laura to expedite the authentication process. The novel brims with art history, including details of Botticelli’s past, and hops back in time to the late 15th century, prior to the tondo’s creation, and its history beyond the artist’s death. But the rich historical background never overwhelms the story, thanks to a remarkable mystery, including damning evidence found on Daniel’s computer; comic relief from Daniel’s cynical and flamboyant friend (and fellow art curator) Jeremy; and a startling death, as well as a kidnapping. Pictures of Botticelli’s art are inserted into the book, which should help readers visualize or remember his paintings. Similarly, Daniel’s metaphors are appropriately (and amusingly) art-inspired; some may be lost on the average reader, but most are literarily visual: Sleep eludes Daniel “like a nymph fleeing a satyr in a Renaissance painting.” The novel’s latter pages are noticeably more intense; thugs are actively looking for Daniel and others, and Stephano neatly resolves both the Christus and Botticelli storylines. There are elements, however, left open; Daniel’s relationship with his minister brother, given only a few details, begs for a sequel, while the unsettling ending stands on its own.

Art history buffs will be elated with this gem, but the bold prose and devotion to the genre is all-inclusive.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-1926847504

Page Count: 352

Publisher: High Interest Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2014

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...


Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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