Fiction from Conhaim, Duffy, Gibson, Goldberg, Harrington, Kaaberbøl, Matthews, & Maverick | Xpress Reviews

Week ending December 15, 2017

Conhaim, D. László. Comanche Captive. Five Star: Gale Cengage. Nov. 2017. 224p. ISBN 9781432837396. $25.95. F
Laura Little seeks to return to her Comanche captors to be reunited with her six-year-old son who was left behind in 1873 when the U.S. Calvary liberated her. After a year in a Fort Worth mental institution, she escapes, heading for Comancheria, a portion of New Mexico and Texas. Scott Renald, an Indian agent searching for white captives, meets Laura by chance on the Texas plains, where the two join forces on a dangerous mission to find her child. Caught between the Tonkawa tribe to their rear and the Comanches ahead of them, the pair proceed west but are separated after a bloody standoff with the Tonkawa. Laura eventually rejoins the Comanches so they will deliver her to her son while Scott continues West on a different trail. Conhaim (Autumn Serenade) offsets this brutal tale of human cruelty, injustice, and violence with rich descriptions of the natural beauty of the West.
Verdict Recommended for Western fans as well as for those who are drawn to historical fiction about Indian captives, such as Alan Le May’s classic The Searchers.—Wendy W. Paige, Shelby Cty. P.L., Morristown, IN

Duffy, Brendan. The Storm King. Ballantine. Feb. 2018. 400p. ISBN 9780804178143. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780804178150. F
In a town filled with myths and legends, Nate McHale became known as “the Boy Who Fell” after mysteriously surviving an accident that killed his family. Fueled by a mixture of guilt, self-hatred, and invincibility, the high school senior took on the persona of Storm King as he led a group of miscreants doling out their own form of justice. It’s been 14 years since Nate left his hometown, and he hasn’t looked back. But now, the body of his high school girlfriend, missing since graduation, has turned up. Nate returns for the funeral but wonders why tragedy seems to have followed him home. Duffy’s (House of Echoes) sophomore effort features a protagonist who is unsympathetic to the reader for most of the book; the gratuitous backdrop of an approaching hurricane makes this a tedious read. Excessively slow story building at the beginning creates an odd contrast with the frenzy at the end.
Verdict
Give this one to readers looking for a redemption story with a bit of suspense, but consider as an optional purchase only.—Vicki Briner, Broomfield, CO

starred review starGibson, Rachel. The Art of Running in Heels. Avon. (Chinooks Hockey Team, Bk. 7). Dec. 2017. 384p. ISBN 9780062247476. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062247483. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Call this Chinooks Hockey: The Next Generation, as Gibson returns to her popular series with the daughter of the protagonists from the 1988 opener, Simply Irresistible. We first meet Lexie Kowalsky as she is on the run from her “dream” wedding as the winner of the reality TV series Gettin’ Hitched—because she doesn’t want to “get hitched,” at least not to a man she barely knows and certainly doesn’t love. But her escape, still in her slightly trashy wedding gown, finds her jumping headfirst onto a friend’s chartered plane. Already aboard is Sean Knox, the newest player on the Seattle Chinooks hockey team, coached by her dad. And even though it is lust at first sight, Sean is on his way to visit his crazy mother in tiny Sandspit, BC, and doesn’t have time to rescue a ditzy reality show wannabe. Still, their forced proximity shows him that Lexie is far removed from his assumptions and that her kind of lunacy is something he can’t live without.
Verdict The chemistry between Lexie and Sean is enough to melt any ice rink, and their push-pull on-again, off-again fake relationship sizzles on the page. Highly recommended for lovers of rom-coms and sports romances and anyone who has a love/hate relationship with reality TV. [Previewed in Joyce Sparrow’s “Love Is All Around,” LJ 10/15/17.]—Marlene Harris, Reading Reality, Duluth, GA

Goldberg, Paul. The Château. Picador. Feb. 2018. 384p. ISBN 9781250116093. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781250116109. F
Having lost his job as a reporter at the Washington Post, William (“Bill”) Melsorovich sets off for Florida to investigate the suspicious death of his college roommate Zbignew Stanislaw Wronski, a plastic surgeon known locally as the Butt God of Miami. Bill will renew his troubled relationship with his father, Melsor, who’s challenging the condo board at Château Sedan Neuve, a high-rise overlooking the sea with a contentious bunch of residents, many Russian Jews. The Katzenelenbogens emigrated from the USSR when Bill was young, which explains why numerous sentences and paragraphs are written in Russian (always translated) but not, curiously and inexplicably, why some appear in the Cyrillic alphabet and others in the Latin. This book has the same sharp writing and madcap air of Goldberg’s award-winning debut, The Yid, but it is a less assured work plagued by overwriting, as if the author’s aim were to convince us of his undeniably impressive talent.
Verdict To be savored more for its style than its story, this work will appeal to those who appreciate an offbeat sense of humor and the immigrant angle. [See Prepub Alert, 10/5/17.]—Edward Cone, New York

Harrington, Rebecca. Sociable. Doubleday. Mar. 2018. 256p. ISBN 9780385542821. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9780804172196. F
The premise Harrington’s sophomore novel (after Penelope) is that journalism is dying and millennials will save it. To do that they will have to fit some work in between parties, fighting with friends, romance, and, in this case, surviving a bad breakup. Our heroine is Elinor Tomlinson, a vapid, immature twentysomething working as a nanny. Her boyfriend’s mother, a well-respected journalist, recommends her for an opening at a second-tier online news magazine. Elinor stumbles through the interview spouting generic nonsense and gets the job, creating viral content for the web. She is probably better at her position than the two men who want to mentor her, yet she doesn’t seem to like it very much. Her boyfriend dumps her, and she just wallows in self-pity. Readers may be able to empathize with the breakup if they can slog through the changeable points of view, the too-brief attempts at humor, hashtags, and even comments addressed directly to the audience.
Verdict Suitable only for libraries with large millennial populations.—Stacy Alesi, Palm Beach Cty. Lib. Syst., FL

Kaaberbøl, Lene. A Lady in Shadows: A Madeleine Karno Mystery. Atria. Dec. 2017. 352p. tr. from Danish by Elisabeth Dyssegaard. ISBN 9781476731421. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781476731445. MYS
In this second installment in the Madeleine Karno series (after Doctor Death), Kaaberbøl continues the story of a woman ahead of her time studying forensics in 1890s France, as she enters the University of Varbourg, becomes engaged, and, of course, finds herself in the middle of another mystery. When a young woman is murdered, Madeleine follows the trail, starting with the forensic evidence but also interviewing witnesses and gathering her own clues after the official investigation hits a roadblock. As she unravels more of the mystery, Madeleine begins to uncover intersections between her life and the life of the victim. Kaaberbøl ups the intensity by incorporating a victim of the real-life “French Ripper,” Joseph Vacher, as well as the assassination of President Marie François Sadi Carnot, into the tale, which adds complexity to her story.
Verdict This mystery, which includes a great deal of historical detail in addition to a compelling plot, will appeal to series fans and those who enjoy C.S. Harris’s “Sebastian St. Cyr” stories and similar historicals.—Elizabeth Nelson, McHenry Cty. Coll. Lib., Crystal Lake, IL

Matthews, Jason. The Kremlin’s Candidate. Scribner. (Red Sparrow, Bk. 3). Feb. 2018. 448p. ISBN 9781501140082. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781501140105. F
Matthews’s own term psychological smorgasbord is the best summary for this final book in the “Red Sparrow” trilogy (after Palace of Treason). Vladimir Putin is a main player here as is the Russian appetite for meddling in U.S. affairs. Dominika Egorova, the synesthetic double agent, is about to become the head of the SVR, Russia’s foreign intelligence service. In Washington, DC, an admiral who became a Russian mole owing to Egorova’s successful seduction of her years ago, is about to be named director of the CIA. The clash of the Amazon warriors looms. The indestructible Nate Nash races in to protect his beloved Domi, although she, as ever, is spurred to hyperperformance. Subplots abound, and there is plenty of attention to spycraft in the cyberwar era. Read as a stand-alone or as the culmination of the high-energy earlier tales, this notably well-written saga plunges deeply into the human stew of fear, ambition, and lust. Matthews spent 33 years on the operational side of the CIA so the story is loaded with Clancyesque technology embellished with le Carré nuance.
Verdict In March 2018, the trilogy will be in the headlines again with the release of the film version of The Red Sparrow. Fans will be primed to scoop up the trilogy and beg for more. [See Prepub Alert, 8/13/17.]—Barbara Conaty, Falls Church, VA

Maverick, Liz. The Financier. Montlake Romance. (Hudson Kings, Bk. 2). Nov. 2017. 254p. ISBN 9781542048200. pap. $12.95; ebk. available. ROMANTIC SUSPENSE
Nick Dawes is in big trouble. After taking on a freelance heist, $20 million is gone and a Russian crime boss is after him for the money. Worse, he’s let down his team the Hudson Kings, a secret group of mercenaries last seen in Maverick’s The Transporter. What can a superrich Wall Street financier do but go into hiding and let his new employee Jane MacGregor look after his apartment and feed his fish. Except that Jane keeps distracting him from his mission. She’s clearly attracted to him, and he loves that she sees beyond his wealth and bad boy façade.
Verdict While the plot is promising, the characters never become fleshed out enough to engage emotionally. Still, readers who love series featuring action and alpha heroes will enjoy this.—Kathryn Howe, Saint John Free P.L., NB

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