Week ending August 7, 2015
Daly, Paula. The Mistake I Made. Grove. Sept. 2015. 368p. ISBN 9780802124098. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780802190826. F
Roz Toovey is a self-employed physiotherapist who enjoys helping people. She’s good at her job, but the pay is not enough to fix her financial mess. Her rent is late, and furthermore the bailiffs have removed all of her furniture (and the oven!) from her apartment. When Roz discovers that her son has been stealing at school (“Because you don’t have any money!”), her desperation reaches an all-time high.Trying to leave her troubles behind for a night, Roz accepts a dinner invitation from her sister, Petra, to meet her new friends Scott and Nadine, a “super couple.” Scott, a wealthy businessman, pays just a little too much attention to Roz at dinner. So when he shows up the following week at the clinic without an appointment, his interest is obvious, and he makes it even clearer with a proposal of sorts: sleep with him and he will solve all of her money troubles. Indecent, of course, but tempting nonetheless, and Roz begins to rethink her definitions of right and wrong.
Verdict Daly (Just What Kind of Mother Are You?) writes an intriguing story that grabs you from the beginning and won’t let go till the final pages. Suspense lovers and fans of the author’s other tales of domestic drama will enjoy. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 3/30/15.]—Cynthia Price, Francis Marion Univ. Lib., Florence, SC
Holm, Chris. The Killing Kind. Mulholland: Little, Brown. Sept. 2015. 320p. ISBN 9780316259538. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780316259507. F
Michael Hendricks is a hit man who kills only other hit men. As a military special op assassin in Afghanistan, he was declared dead, leaving his childhood sweetheart Edie to marry someone else and him to reinvent himself. Hendricks’s guilt at what he did as a soldier drives him to kill killers—for ten times the killer’s fee. Unfortunately, many of his victims are mob-connected, and the organization hires Edelmann, a nasty piece of work, to eliminate Hendricks. Charlotte Thompson, an FBI agent, also is pursuing Hendricks. Events come to a head at a casino at which all three converge, only to emerge from the carnage to meet again for a fiery climax at Edie’s home.
Verdict Holm’s “Collector” trilogy, which blended urban fantasy with pulp crime fiction, featured an unusual but likable antihero, and so it is the same here with both Hendricks and his crippled war buddy Lester, who helps him with computer wizardry. The ending slips into melodrama, but the wild and furious action, the unusual plot featuring assassin versus assassin, and the memorable characters all keep the reader racing through this skillfully told tale of vengeance. [See Prepub Alert, 3/23/15.]—Roland Person, formerly with Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale
Klaussmann, Liza. Villa America. Little, Brown. Aug. 2015. 432p. ISBN 9780316211369. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780316211376. F
Klaussmann’s sophomore outing (after Tigers in Red Weather) sets out to reimagine the world of the Lost Generation as they gather on the French Rivera at Villa America, the luxurious home of expats Gerald and Sara Murphy. Klaussmann wrote her MA thesis on Tender Is the Night, which F. Scott Fitzgerald based on the villa and the Murphys, and she has clearly done her research. John Dos Passos, Cole Porter, Ernest Hemingway, and their spouses come alive in this richly detailed tale of friendships, creative rivalry, romance, drunkenness, and tragedy. But she also incorporates fictional characters into the story line, such as Owen, an American aviator with whom Gerald falls in love. There are many letters included—some invented, some authentic, some a bit of both—and this, along with the combination of actual personalities and fictional but equally realized characters, is somewhat disconcerting to the reader.
Verdict That aside, this is an engrossing read, sure to be popular with lovers of historical fiction who enjoyed Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife. Klaussmann delves deeply into the Murphys, their complicated love for each other, their dreams, and the tragedies that befall their beloved children. [See Prepub Alert, 1/12/15.]—Elizabeth Safford, Boxford Town Lib., MA
Lancaster, Jen. The Best of Enemies. NAL. Aug. 2015. 320p. ISBN 9780451471093. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780698166998. F
SAHM (stay-at-home mom) and blogger Kitty Carricoe and tomboy war journalist Jacqueline “Jack” Jordan were college roommates who shared a mutual friend, geeky and brilliant Sarabeth Chandler. Owing to a huge falling-out, Kitty and Jack became devout enemies but still have to cross paths at parties, weddings, and whatnot. When Sarabeth’s richie-rich hubby dies in a suspicious accident, the foes reluctantly join forces to investigate (and try not to kill each other). The latest from best-selling memoirist and novelist (Here I Go Again; Twisted Sisters) Lancaster is friendship fiction told in the ubiquitous style of alternating narrators (flashbacks included). While the book’s arrangement and pacing are a bit off (it takes a while to learn the full backstory of the enemies’ feud, which is necessary to appreciate fully the present-day rancor), readers will lose count of how many times they literally LOL. Lancaster has a true gift for comedic writing, for creating dialog that doesn’t make you want to throw the book across the room, and for expertly working in past and present pop culture references.
Verdict For fans of chick lit and hilarious women’s fiction, especially those who went to college in the mid-1990s.—Samantha Gust, Niagara Univ. Lib., NY
Longworth, M.L. The Mystery of the Lost Cézanne. Penguin. Sept. 2015. 320p. ISBN 9780143128076. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9780698195783. MYS
Picturesque Aix-en-Provence, the birthplace of artist Paul Cezanne, is also home to Judge Antoine Verlaque and his companion, law professor Marine Bonnet. In this fifth mystery (after Murder on the Île Sordou) in Longworth’s enchanting series, Verlaque uncovers an unknown Cezanne painting found hidden in the apartment building once occupied by the artist. The painting is of an unidentified woman, rumored to be Cézanne’s mistress. When the apartment owner is murdered and the masterpiece disappears, Verlaque and Bonnet call on their talented circle of friends and family to piece together the century-old story of Cézanne’s muse and solve the crime.
Verdict The charming local citizens of Aix-en-Provence provide the true delights in this colorful story. Small-town politics combined with art history make for a pleasant and entertaining read that will delight Francophiles. This series is an excellent addition to the growing number of mysteries and novels reimagining the lives and of well-known artists.—Catherine Lantz, Univ. of Illinois at Chicago Lib.
Thomas, Jodi. Ransom Canyon. HQN: Harlequin. (Ransom Canyon, Bk. 1). Sept. 2015. 335p. ISBN 9780373788446. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781460384091. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Quinn O’Grady, lavender farmer outside of Crossroads, TX, and rancher Staten Kirkland, the widower of her dearest friend, Amalah, have known each other for years. The three had grown up together around Ransom Canyon, but it was the death of Staten’s son, Randall, five years ago that brought Staten to Quinn’s door. “His rainy day woman” is how Staten sees Quinn. Slowly, though, something is changing. In fact, things seem to be changing all over Crossroads, especially with the arrival of Yancy Grey, a recent prison inmate who is welcomed by the residents of the local retirement community and entrusted with their stories along with their odd jobs. At nearly 16, Lauren Brigman, daughter of the sheriff, wants to experience life without her dad’s constant lectures, even if it means living a little dangerously and spending time with Lucas Reyes. Then there’s the matter of those stolen cattle.
Verdict Western romance legend Thomas (A Place Called Harmony; The Tender Texan) opens her latest series in a small Texas town, with lovers who discover they are much more and young people on the cusp of their true path. Throw in a rowdy bunch of senior citizens, and Ransom Canyon will warm readers with its huge heart and gentle souls. For all romance collections.—Bette-Lee Fox, Library Journal
Weiner, Jennifer. Who Do You Love. Atria. Aug. 2015. 400p. ISBN 9781451617818. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781451617832. F
Rachel Blum and Andy Landis met in the ER waiting room when they were eight. He was in with a broken arm, and she was in for treatment of her congenital heart defect. She grew up in an affluent area of Florida with happily married parents, while Andy grew up in a poor area of Philadelphia with a single mom. Their lives couldn’t have been more different: she excelled at academics and received a graduate degree, while he, with a talent for running, worked hard pursuing his dream of becoming a medal-winning athlete. For 30 years, their lives intersect in mysterious ways, bringing them together and tearing them apart. Weiner (All Fall Down) delivers yet another flawless and gripping read with realistic and well-developed characters in her unforgettable love story. With her well-known humor and charm, she conveys the essence of first love, particularly the adage that true love never dies. Complete with a riveting, realistic recounting of 9/11 and a plot twist that will make your jaw drop, Weiner’s brilliantly written novel will capture your heart.
Verdict Readers will simultaneously want to savor and devour Weiner’s latest. [See Prepub Alert, 6/21/15.]—Erin Holt, Williamson Cty. P.L., Franklin, TN