The prolific Fleming (Hours of Gladness, 1999, etc.) has been around for a while, of course, but this manifestation of him...

DREAMS OF GLORY

Historical set during the Revolutionary War—in an America not so beautiful.

It’s winter, and what remains of the rebel army is bivouacked in New Jersey, close to Morristown. And close to mutiny. There are reasons: the soldiers are hungry and cold, their clothes in tatters. Routinely, they die from exposure, dysentery, and a variety of other pernicious diseases. They also haven’t been paid in months, and desertions are a daily occurrence. Meanwhile, the Continental Congress, convened in Philadelphia to almost no purpose, engages in a kind of fratricidal war within a war, southern aristocrats and Yankee entrepreneurs sniping and carping at each other, and all of them sneering at George Washington—never mind that he’s the glue that keeps their revolution from flying apart. Four years have passed since the headiness of Lexington and Concord. Apathy, cupidity, and defeatism are now rampant, blotting anything good from Fleming’s bleak canvas. Four characters act out most of the dismal drama, all of them gripped by self-hatred and some form of despair: the degraded Major Beckford, chief of British intelligence, matched by the embittered Major Stallworth, his opposite number. Ruthlessly exploited by these cynical spymasters are the beautiful half-Jew, half-black Flora Kuyper, and the disillusioned clergyman Caleb Chandler—the former the unwilling tool of the British; the latter, equally reluctant, pressed into service by the Americans. Scruples have long since become excess baggage; only victory matters, justifying all means that end, a position even Washington accepts. With blackmail, torture and murder commonplace, both armies battle ingloriously, leaving a rooting interest hard to come by.

The prolific Fleming (Hours of Gladness, 1999, etc.) has been around for a while, of course, but this manifestation of him may surprise his readers: much better prose, significantly darker view.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-312-87743-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Forge

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2000

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Box handles this foolproof formula with complete assurance, keeping the pot at a full boil until the perfunctory,...

THE HIGHWAY

The creator of Wyoming Fish and Game Warden Joe Pickett (Breaking Point, 2013, etc.) works the area around Yellowstone National Park in this stand-alone about a long-haul trucker with sex and murder on his mind.

The Lizard King, as he calls himself, normally targets lot lizards—prostitutes who work the parking lots adjacent to the rest stops that dot interstate highways. But he’s more than happy to move up to a higher class of victim when he runs across the Sullivan sisters. Danielle, 18, and Gracie, 16, are supposed to be driving from their mother’s home in Denver to their father’s in Omaha, but Danielle has had the bright idea of heading instead to Bozeman, Mont., to visit her boyfriend, Justin Hoyt. Far from home, their whereabouts known to only a few people, the girls are the perfect victims even before they nearly collide with the Lizard King’s rig and Danielle flips him off. Hours later, very shortly after he’s caught up with them in the depths of Yellowstone and done his best to eradicate every trace of his abduction, Justin, worried that Danielle refused his last phone call, tells his father that something bad has happened. Cody Hoyt, an investigator for the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Department, is already having a tough day: At the insistence of his crooked boss, Sheriff Tubman, his longtime student and new partner, Cassandra Dewell, has just caught him planting evidence in an unrelated murder, and he’s been suspended from his job. If he’s lost his badge, though, Cody’s got plenty of time on his hands to drive downstate and meet with State Trooper Rick Legerski, the ex-husband of his dispatcher’s sister, to talk about what to do next. And so the countdown begins.

Box handles this foolproof formula with complete assurance, keeping the pot at a full boil until the perfunctory, anticlimactic and unsatisfactory ending.

Pub Date: July 30, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-58320-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: July 7, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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Not terribly suspenseful, but as a dissection of a family in crisis, it works.

A NEARLY NORMAL FAMILY

In Swedish author Edvardsson’s U.S debut, a family is shattered by a heinous crime.

Adam is a well-respected pastor, and his wife, Ulrika, is a defense attorney. Their daughter, Stella, has just turned 18 and is planning a trip to Asia. From the outside, the Sandells are the perfect family, but that facade crumbles when Stella is arrested for the brutal stabbing of 32-year-old Christopher Olsen at a playground. On the night of the murder, Adam finds Stella’s shirt covered in dark stains; he will do anything to keep his daughter out of prison, including providing a false alibi, but his decision contradicts his faith and shakes him to his core. The story is told in three parts, from the viewpoints of Adam, Stella, and Ulrika. Adam presents Stella as a troubled child and out-of-control teen. Stella reveals that much of her acting out stemmed from her desire to control her own life, her father’s overprotectiveness, and her mother’s perceived coldness. Further, Adam and Ulrika’s failure to report a sexual assault on Stella by a trusted camp director when Stella was 15 created a permanent fissure in the family. Stella’s whirlwind affair with the wealthy and attentive Chris is complicated by his ex-girlfriend, who tells Stella he’s abusive. The romance eventually spins out of control, but could Stella be a killer? Much of Ulrika’s narrative is spent in the courtroom during Stella’s murder trial, which may lead some readers to feel like she got short shrift. In between flashes of courtroom drama, Ulrika contemplates her marriage, motherhood, and her alienation in the face of what she felt was an impenetrable relationship between Adam and Stella. The murder mystery falls a bit flat and the resolution is overly neat, but Edvardsson ably weaves themes of parental guilt and sacrifice into a nuanced family drama.

Not terribly suspenseful, but as a dissection of a family in crisis, it works.

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-20443-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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