A seamless weave of historical investigation and fictional drama starring an African-American hero.




A debut historical novel chronicles the struggle of a slave to win his freedom in the antebellum South.

Maule’s book focuses on a real-life hero, Robert Smalls. Smalls was born in South Carolina in 1839, the result of his mother—a slave—being raped by her master, Henry McKee. McKee’s wife discovered the truth about Smalls’ parentage and ensured his treatment was superior to other slaves’ and that he received additional training. But he was denied a real education, including literacy, and Smalls chafed at his double status, privileged but still imprisoned. Due to chronic displays of defiance, he was sent away to work at the Baines Hotel in Charleston, a move that promised greater opportunity but potential danger, too. Smalls, always infatuated with water, eventually found work at the Atlantic Wharf and landed a job on the Lone Kestrel, where he achieved his dream of becoming a full sailor. He also met Hannah Jones, the woman who became his wife after he brokered a deal with her owner to gradually purchase her freedom. But the dark storms of war gathered, and Smalls decided it was necessary—however perilous—to escape. He orchestrated a daring plan that involved the theft of the boat on which he had been working, the CSS Planter—at the time in the employ of the Confederate cause. Smalls became the captain, the first African-American to achieve such status in the U.S. Navy, and distinguished himself for his valor during the Civil War. He later became a successful businessman and purchased the mansion he once served in as a slave. Maule skillfully renders Smalls’ life through fictional embellishment, powerfully portraying his indomitable longing for liberty. The narrative covers Smalls’ life up until his final escape, and the remainder, including his time as a congressman, is quickly cataloged in a bullet-point epilogue. If Maule’s account of Smalls’ early years had been more concise, the author could have devoted more time to the full fruition of the protagonist’s labors and risks. Nonetheless, this is a riveting story and a sadly neglected sliver of American history.

A seamless weave of historical investigation and fictional drama starring an African-American hero.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9984937-0-1

Page Count: 374

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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Connelly takes a break from his Harry Bosch police novels (The Last Coyote, p. 328, etc.) for something even more intense: a reporter's single-minded pursuit of the serial killer who murdered his twin. Even his buddies in the Denver PD thought Sean McEvoy's shooting in the backseat of his car looked like a classic cop suicide, right clown to the motive: his despondency over his failure to clear the murder of a University of Denver student. But as Sean's twin brother, Jack, of the Rocky Mountain News, notices tiny clues that marked Sean's death as murder, his suspicions about the dying message Sean scrawled inside his fogged windshield—"Out of space. Out of time"—alert him to a series of eerily similar killings stretching from Sarasota to Albuquerque. The pattern, Jack realizes, involves two sets of murders: a series of sex killings of children, and then the executions (duly camouflaged as suicides) of the investigating police officers. Armed with what he's dug up, Jack heads off to Washington, to the Law Enforcement Foundation and the FBI. The real fireworks begin as Jack trades his official silence for an inside role in the investigation, only to find himself shut out of both the case and the story. From then on in, Jack, falling hard for Rachel Walling, the FBI agent in charge of the case, rides his Bureau connections like a bucking bronco—even as one William Gladden, a pedophile picked up on a low-level charge in Santa Monica, schemes to make bail before the police can run his prints through the national computer, then waits with sick patience for his chance at his next victim. The long-awaited confrontation between Jack and Gladden comes at an LA video store; but even afterward, Jack's left with devastating questions about the case. Connelly wrings suspense out of every possible aspect of Jack's obsessive hunt for his brother's killer. Prepare to be played like a violin.

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 1996

ISBN: 0-316-15398-2

Page Count: 440

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1995

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