A Crazy Rich Asians for West Africa, with a healthy splash of feminism.

HIS ONLY WIFE

A Cinderella story set in Ghana.

“I think I would have been less apprehensive if Eli himself had been present.” Probably so, since this is Afi’s wedding and Elikem is the groom, whom she has barely met. This delightful debut novel from Medie, who was born in Liberia, educated in Ghana and the U.S., and teaches at the University of Bristol in England, is anything but academic. As it begins, Afi—gorgeous, talented at sewing, dirt poor, and very country—is being married in a traditional ceremony to an absent young man whose wealthy and powerful family, the Ganyos, will do anything to separate him from his Liberian mistress. An aging woman known as Aunty is the Don Corleone of the clan, obeyed and feared by all—or almost all. Her selection of Afi as designated daughter-in-law immediately improves the desperate straits of Afi’s widowed mother and a whole slew of other relatives, who begin receiving deliveries of rice and other supplies as part of her bride price. Eli’s brother, Richard, sets Afi up in a fancy apartment in Accra and his sister Yaya helps her enroll in fashion design school. Now…if only Eli would show up. By the time he does, Afi is so lonely and miserable that she might have fallen in love with him even if he weren’t incredibly good looking, generous, and sweet. Unfortunately, he is also completely unwilling to break things off with his other woman, who lives in his primary residence with their daughter. Medie subtly develops Afi’s character as she—mentored by her brother-in-law’s mistress, who lives down the hall—goes from being an innocent, awestruck village girl to a sophisticated, confident woman, accustomed to privilege and luxury, set on a creative career...and mad as hell. She gradually pieces together the scoop on her rival, who “moved to Ghana reluctantly, her cigarettes and booze clutched in one hand and her baby in the other” and now has Eli so wrapped around her little finger that she takes off on a solo vacation to Spain while he’s out of town on business. Afi deserves better. This is war.

A Crazy Rich Asians for West Africa, with a healthy splash of feminism.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61620-915-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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Funny, sad, astute, occasionally creepy, and slyly irresistible.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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APPLES NEVER FALL

Australian novelist Moriarty combines domestic realism and noirish mystery in this story about the events surrounding a 69-year-old Sydney woman’s disappearance.

Joy and Stan Delaney met as champion tennis players more than 50 years ago and ran a well-regarded tennis academy until their recent retirement. Their long, complicated marriage has been filled with perhaps as much passion for the game of tennis as for each other or their children. When Joy disappears on Feb. 14, 2020 (note the date), the last text she sends to her now-grown kids—bohemian Amy, passive Logan, flashy Troy, and migraine-suffering Brooke—is too garbled by autocorrect to decipher and stubborn Stan refuses to accept that there might be a problem. But days pass and Joy remains missing and uncharacteristically silent. As worrisome details come to light, the police become involved. The structure follows the pattern of Big Little Lies (2014) by setting up a mystery and then jumping months into the past to unravel it. Here, Moriarty returns to the day a stranger named Savannah turned up bleeding on the Delaneys’ doorstep and Joy welcomed her to stay for an extended visit. Who is Savannah? Whether she’s innocent, scamming, or something else remains unclear on many levels. Moriarty is a master of ambiguity and also of the small, telling detail like a tossed tennis racket or the repeated appearance of apple crumble. Starting with the abandoned bike that's found by a passing motorist on the first page, the evidence that accumulates around what happened to Joy constantly challenges the reader both to notice which minor details (and characters) matter and to distinguish between red herrings and buried clues. The ultimate reveal is satisfying, if troubling. But Moriarty’s main focus, which she approaches from countless familiar and unexpected angles, is the mystery of family and what it means to be a parent, child, or sibling in the Delaney family—or in any family, for that matter.

Funny, sad, astute, occasionally creepy, and slyly irresistible.

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-22025-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

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THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME

When a devoted husband and father disappears, his wife and daughter set out to find him.

Hannah Hall is deeply in love with her husband of one year, Owen Michaels. She’s also determined to win over his 16-year-old daughter, Bailey, who has made it very clear that she’s not thrilled with her new stepmother. Despite the drama, the family is mostly a happy one. They live in a lovely houseboat in Sausalito; Hannah is a woodturner whose handmade furniture brings in high-dollar clientele; and Owen works for The Shop, a successful tech firm. Their lives are shattered, however, when Hannah receives a note saying “Protect her” and can’t reach Owen by phone. Then there’s the bag full of cash Bailey finds in her school locker and the shocking news that The Shop’s CEO has been taken into custody. Hannah learns that the FBI has been investigating the firm for about a year regarding some hot new software they took to market before it was fully functional, falsifying their financial statements. Hannah refuses to believe her husband is involved in the fraud, and a U.S. marshal assigned to the case claims Owen isn’t a suspect. Hannah doesn’t know whom to trust, though, and she and Bailey resolve to root out the clues that might lead to Owen. They must also learn to trust one another. Hannah’s narrative alternates past and present, detailing her early days with Owen alongside her current hunt for him, and author Dave throws in a touch of danger and a few surprises. But what really drives the story is the evolving nature of Hannah and Bailey’s relationship, which is by turns poignant and frustrating but always realistic.

Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7134-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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