A novel that combines romance and suspense in an unexpected but credible way.

A SERIES OF EVENTS

In Crapo’s debut novel, two therapists fall for each other in Paris and meet with hostility—and maybe something more sinister—after they return home.

Romantic sparks fly when the male psychologist Carson Arrowsmith and the female psychiatrist Morgan Alar meet through friends in Paris. They continue their affair after they return to the U.S., but seemingly random developments impede it: a psychologist named Gloria’s near-fanatical envy of Carson’s relationship with Morgan; the sudden appearance of an old friend of Morgan’s long-missing father; and a strange man who makes an evening appointment with Morgan and asks personal questions instead of answering them. These events spiral into violence that endangers the couple in a story that, despite its mystery/thriller elements, works best as a romance. Crapo defines the main characters convincingly and treats their professions realistically, if sometimes with tongue in cheek; the couple psychoanalyzes everything and diagnoses Gloria’s meddling personality before Morgan decides, “I don’t like her.” Their relationship unfolds naturally and believably, particularly in a scene of buoyant anticipation, when Carson patiently waits for Morgan at a cafe, though she’s nearly 30 minutes late. They refer often to their Paris liaison, even in the name of their practice. If the story’s antagonistic forces arrive at a crawl, the measured pace remains effective. Tensions rise as Morgan’s history emerges, and Omar, her father’s former acquaintance, turns out to have a link both to the bizarre patient who made an appointment with her and to a man who’s a stranger to both doctors—“Mister X.” The more romantic interludes give way to Morgan’s making the “rounds,” ensuring each night that the house is secure and the alarm is set. But the relationship keeps its feet planted in the foreground, and the story becomes one of a couple struggling to maintain harmony. The ending, for a romance, is atypical, but it succeeds and rounds out a solid book.

A novel that combines romance and suspense in an unexpected but credible way.

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-1466245242

Page Count: 366

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2012

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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

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THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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A welcome literary resurrection that deserves a place alongside Wright’s best-known work.

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THE MAN WHO LIVED UNDERGROUND

A falsely accused Black man goes into hiding in this masterful novella by Wright (1908-1960), finally published in full.

Written in 1941 and '42, between Wright’s classics Native Son and Black Boy, this short novel concerns Fred Daniels, a modest laborer who’s arrested by police officers and bullied into signing a false confession that he killed the residents of a house near where he was working. In a brief unsupervised moment, he escapes through a manhole and goes into hiding in a sewer. A series of allegorical, surrealistic set pieces ensues as Fred explores the nether reaches of a church, a real estate firm, and a jewelry store. Each stop is an opportunity for Wright to explore themes of hope, greed, and exploitation; the real estate firm, Wright notes, “collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in rent from poor colored folks.” But Fred’s deepening existential crisis and growing distance from society keep the scenes from feeling like potted commentaries. As he wallpapers his underground warren with cash, mocking and invalidating the currency, he registers a surrealistic but engrossing protest against divisive social norms. The novel, rejected by Wright’s publisher, has only appeared as a substantially truncated short story until now, without the opening setup and with a different ending. Wright's take on racial injustice seems to have unsettled his publisher: A note reveals that an editor found reading about Fred’s treatment by the police “unbearable.” That may explain why Wright, in an essay included here, says its focus on race is “rather muted,” emphasizing broader existential themes. Regardless, as an afterword by Wright’s grandson Malcolm attests, the story now serves as an allegory both of Wright (he moved to France, an “exile beyond the reach of Jim Crow and American bigotry”) and American life. Today, it resonates deeply as a story about race and the struggle to envision a different, better world.

A welcome literary resurrection that deserves a place alongside Wright’s best-known work.

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-59853-676-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Library of America

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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