A thriller with estimable lead characters and engrossing villains that make up for an occasionally muddled plot.

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RESURRECTION OF EVIL

A STEVE LANDAU MYSTERY

Espionage agencies again call upon a forensic dentist’s expertise when it appears that Adolf Hitler may have fathered two sons in Woods-Frankel’s (False Impressions, 2012) second book in his historical mystery series.

In 1992, Dr. Steve Landau, in Israel to give a lecture at the Mossad Forensic Institute, is enjoying vacation time with his girlfriend, forensic psychologist Nita Lazar. But his plans change when CIA agent Herb Robinson and KGB Col. Mischa Kovalyov tell him that they need his help. They need him to confirm recent intel that the buried body of Hitler isn’t actually the dictator at all. Steve’s forensic dental skills validate the suspicion, and additional information suggests that the late Soviet leader Josef Stalin, who was sterile, may have used Hitler’s semen to impregnate two women, who each had a son. With the FBI’s assistance, Steve and his colleagues track down one of the sons in America, a wealthy, dangerous arms dealer. This mystery/thriller revels in its alternative history, spending a large part of the book in a flashback focusing on Hitler at the end of World War II. Later, the story moves into the 1960s to focus on his sons, Josif and Iliyich, who take notably different paths in life. Initially, this section doesn’t move much beyond what Steve, Nita and Herb have already learned, but it’s enthralling nonetheless. Steve and Nita are engaging protagonists, adept with weapons and close-quarters combat, and they stubbornly refuse to abandon the investigation. But that investigation can be confusing at times; for example, it’s initially unclear why the search for Josif is so urgent, although it becomes clearer when they realize he may be planning an attack on the United States. The plot also sometimes relies on coincidence, such as the brothers’ convenient reunion in America. However, Woods-Frankel keeps the tension high by taking his heroes through a gunfight, a kidnapping, and a tragic death or two.

A thriller with estimable lead characters and engrossing villains that make up for an occasionally muddled plot.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-1910105092

Page Count: 276

Publisher: Netherworld Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2014

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A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

GHOSTED

In Walsh’s American debut, a woman desperately tries to find out why the man she spent a whirlwind week with never called.

Sarah has just separated from her American husband and is visiting her hometown in England when she meets Eddie. He’s kind and charming, and although they only spend one week together, she falls in love. When he has to leave for a trip, she knows they’ll keep in touch—they’re already making plans for the rest of their lives. But then Eddie never calls, and Sarah’s increasingly frantic efforts to contact him are fruitless. Is he hurt? Is he dead? As her friends tell her, there’s a far greater likelihood that he’s just blowing her off—she’s been ghosted. After trying to track Eddie down at a football game, Sarah starts to become ashamed of herself—after all, she’s almost 40 years old and she’s essentially stalking a man who never called her. But as Sarah slowly learns, she and Eddie didn’t actually meet randomly—they both have a connection to an accident that happened years ago, and it may have something to do with why he disappeared. The tension quickly amps up as the secrets of Eddie’s and Sarah’s pasts are revealed, and the truth behind their connection is genuinely surprising and heartbreaking. The barriers between Sarah and Eddie seem insurmountable at times, and although their issues are resolved in a tidy manner, the emotions behind their actions are always believable. Walsh has created a deeply moving romance with an intriguing mystery and a touching portrait of grief at its heart.

A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-52277-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

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THE STARLESS SEA

A withdrawn graduate student embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world in this long-anticipated follow-up to The Night Circus (2011).

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, and Zachary must decide whether to trust the handsome stranger he meets at a highflying literary fundraiser in New York or to retreat back to his thesis and forget the whole affair. In a high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary's adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories. There are pirates and weary travelers, painters who can see the future, lovers torn asunder, a menacing Owl King, and safe harbors for all the stories of the world, far below the Earth on the golden shores of a Starless Sea. Clocking in at more than 500 pages, the novel requires patience as Morgenstern puts all the pieces in place, but it is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail, right down to the ballroom stairs "festooned with lanterns and garlands of paper dipped in gold" or a cloak carved from ice with "ships and sailors and sea monsters...lost in the drifting snow." This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call.

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54121-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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