A debut novel that follows the ups and downs of a British rock band, on the charts and in their lives.
Astrid, just a teenager, has already done enough jet setting. Raised in Canada and whisked to Australia, she’s later dragged back home by her overbearing father after her mother dies. She makes a host of friends, and the center of this new family is Dandy, a beautiful free spirit who meets a group of young musicians in London. Dandy falls in love with guitarist Mac, while Astrid falls for Kenny, a soulful singer who’s also wild about her. Mac’s already a successful solo musician when he decides to form a new band, The Midnight All Stars, with Kenny and several others. Dandy and Mac marry and struggle to start a family despite Mac’s hectic tour schedule. Astrid and Kenny also have a child but eschew marriage. The band’s popularity soars, and a tour stop in Germany turns into a dangerous mob scene. As the drama of the band continues—a drummer in rehab, a useless tour manager—their dramatic personal lives keep pace. Astrid pursues filmmaking and is seduced by movie mogul Alister, whom she marries in what her loved ones fear is a fit of insanity. Dandy, meanwhile, is torn among her blossoming career as a novelist, the demands of her children and the constant loneliness of having a husband on the road. The novel’s greatest distraction is its sheer population, as readers meet 23 characters in the first 50 pages, with dozens more to follow. Readers may find themselves constantly flipping back to remember, for example, who Julia’s husband is or how many sisters Dandy has. The plot’s many twists, including the introduction of a long-lost nephew, only adds to the confusion. The strongest relationship in the book is Dandy and Mac’s, whose deep love and affection comes through clearly on every page; it would be satisfying to follow their marriage alone, but the chapters switch between Dandy’s and Kenny’s points of view, making for an overwhelming tale. Determined readers, however, will be rewarded with warm portraits of love—between friends, lovers, partners, parents, children and band mates.
A sprawling novel that, despite its huge cast, may charm fans of contemporary romance.
A highly organized, informative discussion of the immigration system in the United States.
In this politically charged environment, Afrasiabi manages to broach the volatile issue of immigration in a well-rounded, surprisingly effective framework that combines case studies, historical research, statistical analysis and personal anecdotes to detail the current issues and propose solutions. Invocations of Kafka, “The Twilight Zone” and “Alice in Wonderland” prove warranted as illustrations of the often surreal circumstances that confront immigrants facing deportation. Immigrants usually lack access to quality legal representation, while their situation can be made doubly difficult due to language barriers and significant cultural differences. Afrasiabi incorporates his work with colleagues and students at the Chapman University School of Law to deftly weave together the facts of several compelling cases and their underlying legal issues, with a genuine sense of suspense as readers wonder if justice will be truly be served. Occasionally, though, the narrative becomes overwrought—two federal laws passed in 1996 are “dark storm clouds depositing their sleet”—although, considering the life-changing effects of court decisions, it’s difficult to overstate the ramifications: extralegal rendition of individuals with pending cases and the de facto deportation of native-born children whose parents are deported. Afrasiabi also addresses the legacy of various anti-alien laws in California, as well as marriage equality for same-sex couples when one partner is a noncitizen. As the subtitle asserts, Afrasiabi employs his additional experience in the field of property law to contrast the stark differences between immigration judges and constitutional judges, like their qualifications, vetting processes and even the oaths they take. His arguments culminate in seven concrete reforms proposed in the conclusion. In order to make the immigration system more just and effective, Afrasiabi claims the solutions are closer than we may think; we can implement procedures and safeguards already in place within the constitutional courts.
A persuasive, valuable addition to the ongoing immigration reform debate.
Walkley pits CIA agents against a maniacal Saudi prince intent on starting World War III in this debut thriller.
Delta Force operative Lee McCloud, aka Mac, finds himself in Mexico, trying to rescue two teenage girls kidnapped by a drug cartel. But things go from bad to worse when the villains don’t play by the rules. Framed for two murders he didn’t commit, Mac has two options: go to prison or go to work for a CIA black-op group run by the devious Wisebaum, who hacks into terrorists’ bank accounts and confiscates millions of dollars. However, there’s more going on than meets the eye; Saudi Prince Khalid is in possession of nuclear canisters, with which he hopes to alter world history. Khalid also dabbles in trafficking young women, and harvesting and selling human organs. When Wisebaum’s black-op team targets Khalid’s father, the action becomes even more intense. With so many interweaving subplots—kidnapped girls, Israeli undercover agents, nuclear weapons and a secret underwater hideout—it could be easy to lose track of what’s going on. But the author’s deft handling of the material ensures that doesn’t occur; subplots are introduced at the appropriate junctures and, by story’s end, all are accounted for and neatly concluded. Mac is portrayed as a rough and ready action-hero, yet his vulnerabilities will evoke empathy in readers. He finds a love interest in Tally, a hacker whose personality is just quirky enough to complement his own. All Walkley’s primary characters are fleshed out and realistic, with the exception of Wisebaum—a malicious, double-dealing, back-stabber of the worst ilk; the reader is left wondering about Wisebaum’s motivations behind such blatant treachery.
Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.