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MURDER YOUR EMPLOYER

THE MCMASTERS GUIDE TO HOMICIDE

Fun for readers who think that murder is cute.

A new novel from the man who wrote Swing (2005), Where the Truth Lies (2003), and “Escape (The Piña Colada Song).”

When Cliff Iverson tries—and fails—to murder his toxic boss, he is apprehended almost instantly. But instead of taking him down to the station, the “cops” who catch him whisk him away to the McMasters Conservatory for the Applied Arts. Set in a secret location, this very exclusive institution boasts a bucolic campus, three (unpublished) Michelin stars, and a comprehensive education in assassination. Cliff is there as a scholarship student, and much of the novel is addressed to the benefactor who made it possible for him to become a more effective murderer. There are also entries written by faculty and administrators as well as scenes following the educations of Dulcie Mown and Gemma Lindley, two other students. Once Cliff, Dulcie, and Gemma graduate, we follow them into the world as they scheme to complete their thesis projects—that is, as they attempt to “delete” their targets. There are a lot of genres happening at once in this novel. The debt to British boarding school stories is obvious, although the vibe is very different when the students aren’t adolescents finding themselves and their places in the world but, rather, full-grown adults playing water polo and enjoying sumptuous meals as they learn best practices for taking lives without getting caught. The journeys of Cliff, Dulcie, and Gemma unfold like mysteries in reverse. And, while the story is set in the 1950s, the plot and dialogue are much indebted to the screwball comedies of the 1930s. If this sounds like a lot, that’s because it is a lot. Everything about this book is a lot—if not too much. Holmes asks readers to suspend disbelief from the get-go, and he just keeps asking for more blind credulity as the narrative advances. Maybe more significantly, Holmes seems incapable of passing up an opportunity to be cute or clever. There are so many puns. This tendency slows the narrative in a way that almost invites readers to look for plot holes, of which there are many.

Fun for readers who think that murder is cute.

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-451648-21-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2023

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THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

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A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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IT STARTS WITH US

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

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The sequel to It Ends With Us (2016) shows the aftermath of domestic violence through the eyes of a single mother.

Lily Bloom is still running a flower shop; her abusive ex-husband, Ryle Kincaid, is still a surgeon. But now they’re co-parenting a daughter, Emerson, who's almost a year old. Lily won’t send Emerson to her father’s house overnight until she’s old enough to talk—“So she can tell me if something happens”—but she doesn’t want to fight for full custody lest it become an expensive legal drama or, worse, a physical fight. When Lily runs into Atlas Corrigan, a childhood friend who also came from an abusive family, she hopes their friendship can blossom into love. (For new readers, their history unfolds in heartfelt diary entries that Lily addresses to Finding Nemo star Ellen DeGeneres as she considers how Atlas was a calming presence during her turbulent childhood.) Atlas, who is single and running a restaurant, feels the same way. But even though she’s divorced, Lily isn’t exactly free. Behind Ryle’s veneer of civility are his jealousy and resentment. Lily has to plan her dates carefully to avoid a confrontation. Meanwhile, Atlas’ mother returns with shocking news. In between, Lily and Atlas steal away for romantic moments that are even sweeter for their authenticity as Lily struggles with child care, breastfeeding, and running a business while trying to find time for herself.

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-668-00122-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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