A vivid account of one remarkable family’s role in shaping modern America.

THE LEHMAN TRILOGY

A fictional history of the immigrant family that built a great American financial institution.

Source for the eponymous stage production, Massini’s imposing novel in verse tells the story of Lehman Brothers, the venerable investment banking firm whose unimaginable collapse in 2008 helped trigger the Great Recession. Beginning with the arrival from Bavaria, in the mid-19th century, of brothers Henry, Emanuel, and Mayer and the establishment of first a grocery store and then a cotton trading business in Montgomery, Alabama, Massini follows three generations of this German Jewish family as it sinks its roots in unfamiliar soil and then, through shrewdness, daring, and tireless work, forges a worldwide financial empire. Expansive and intimate, sober and playful, Massini’s novel focuses less on arcane financial maneuvers and more on the outsized personalities of the Lehman family members who drove the company’s success. Among the most memorable are Sigmund, son of Mayer, who steels himself for leadership by memorizing a list of 120 draconian rules for ruthless business dealing, and Emanuel’s grandson Robert “Bobbie” Lehman, art collector and owner of racehorses, who shepherded the bank through the Depression and into the modern era, sowing the seeds of both its continuing prosperity and its ruin. Massini departs from the Lehman financial saga for a portrait of Herbert Lehman, Sigmund’s brother, the liberal reformer who challenged some of the excesses of capitalism displayed in the family business while serving as both governor of New York and senator from that state. With the aid of a vibrant translation from the Italian, the novel takes on an epic quality as the Lehmans relentlessly expand the scope of their business, accumulating vast wealth and economic power, while devoting themselves with equal single-mindedness to the acquisition of social status, the latter effort symbolized in their drive to shoulder aside rivals and move to the front row of their New York City synagogue.

A vivid account of one remarkable family’s role in shaping modern America.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-294044-5

Page Count: 720

Publisher: HarperVia/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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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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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

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THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE

In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8272-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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