While it features some stock characters, this multicultural tale creates a complex web of relationships.

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TATIANA AND THE RUSSIAN WOLVES

A debut novel set in the 1980s follows a young banker.

Alexander Andreivich Romanovsky is the vice president and Eastern European area manager at Universal Bank, based in San Francisco. Alexander is of Russian descent, though he was born in France and raised in California. His life in America was aided greatly by his mother’s wealthy friend Fiona Sinclair. Alexander even developed a relationship with Fiona’s son, Drew Faircloth. Tragically, Alexander’s father died when the boy was only 17 years old, and his mother eventually committed suicide. Despite such a dark family history, Alexander finds his career as a banker going well. But it is the mid-’80s, and the AIDS epidemic is in full force. Drew contracts the disease and is adamant that Alexander take over his art-dealing business after he dies. But Alexander faces his own problems. Not only does he become involved in the affairs of a troubled British secretary named Philippa Tate-Palmer, but aspects of his family’s life in Europe come to haunt him as well. What is a cosmopolitan yet conflicted banker to do? In short, there is no telling if and when all the complications in Alexander’s life will get sorted out. Jordan’s book shines when offering intriguing facets of the cultures and characters that Alexander encounters. Lively details include Russian traditions such as an Eastern Orthodox Easter and the inherently odd juxtaposition of a boy with Russian roots growing up in California. Of course, some developments are blaringly obvious. In an early scene, Alexander is blackmailed while on a trip to Russia. But the crime is orchestrated so smoothly by a stereotypical brute named Ivan Alexinsky that readers will be left wondering if it couldn’t have been conducted in a more thrilling, or at least memorable, fashion. Then there is Philippa, who, when not reminding cohorts of how British she is (how she longs for a decent cup of tea in America), goes so far as to collapse on a sofa in a fit of crying. Despite such melodramatic choices, the narrative should leave readers curious about the fates of the people Alexander meets on his serpentine journey, even if none of them are particularly endearing.

While it features some stock characters, this multicultural tale creates a complex web of relationships.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-948484-10-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Clovercroft Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2018

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Another success for the publishing phenom.

UNDER CURRENTS

An abused boy fights back, escapes, then returns as an attorney to his beloved hometown, but just as he’s falling in love with a transplanted landscaper, a series of attacks from shadowy enemies jeopardizes their happiness.

“From the outside, the house in Lakeview Terrace looked perfect.” Which of course means that it wasn't. We're introduced to the horrifying Dr. Graham Bigelow, who beats his wife and, increasingly as the boy gets older, his son, Zane. On the night of Zane’s prom, a particularly savage attack puts him and his sister in the hospital, and his father blames Zane, landing him in jail. Then his sister stands up for him, enlisting the aid of their aunt, and everything changes, mainly due to Zane’s secret diaries. Nearly 20 years later, Zane leaves a successful career as a lawyer to return to Lakeview, where his aunt and sister live with their families, deciding to hang a shingle as a small-town lawyer. Then he meets Darby McCray, the landscaper who’s recently relocated and taken the town by storm, starting with the transformation of his family’s rental bungalows. The two are instantly intrigued by each other, but they move slowly into a relationship neither is looking for. Darby has a violent past of her own, so she is more than willing to take on the risk of antagonizing a boorish local family when she and Zane help an abused wife. Suddenly Zane and Darby face one attack after another, and even as they grow ever closer under the pressure, the dangers become more insidious. Roberts’ latest title feels a little long and the story is slightly cumbersome, but her greatest strength is in making the reader feel connected to her characters, so “unnecessary details” can also charm and engage.

Another success for the publishing phenom.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-20709-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

OUTFOX

An FBI agent is determined to catch a man who bilks and murders wealthy women, but the chase goes slowly.

Brown (Tailspin, 2018, etc.) has published 70 bestsellers, and this one employs her usual template of thriller spiked with romance. Its main character, Drex Easton, is an FBI agent in pursuit of a serial killer, but for him it’s personal. When he was a boy, his mother left him and his father for another man, Weston Graham. Drex believes Graham murdered her and that he has killed at least seven more women after emptying their bank accounts. Now he thinks he has the clever Graham—current alias Jasper Ford—in his sights, and he’s willing to put his career at risk to catch him. The women Ford targets are wealthy, and his new prey is no exception—except that, uncharacteristically, he has married her. Talia Ford proves to be a complication for Drex, who instantly falls in lust with her even though he’s not at all sure she isn’t her husband's accomplice. Posing as a would-be novelist, Drex moves into an apartment next door to the Fords’ posh home and tries to ingratiate himself, but tensions rise immediately—Jasper is suspicious, and Talia has mixed feelings about Drex's flirtatious behavior. When Talia’s fun-loving friend Elaine Conner turns up dead after a cruise on her yacht and Jasper disappears, Drex and Talia become allies. There are a few action sequences and fewer sex scenes, but the novel’s pace bogs down repeatedly in long, mundane conversations. Drex's two FBI agent sidekicks are more interesting characters than he is; Drex himself is such a caricature of a macho man, so heedless of ethics, and so aggressive toward women that it’s tough to see him as a good guy. Brown adds a couple of implausible twists at the very end that make him seem almost as untrustworthy as Graham.

This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4555-7219-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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