For a time, it looked like Israel’s most famous spy might
actually retreat to a desk job. In The Black Widow (2016)
and The House of Spies (2017), it seemed as if Allon's creator
was bringing younger, secondary characters to the foreground, but Allon has now
taken center stage again. In this way and others, Silva's latest feels like a
throwback to some of the earlier books in the series as well as to spy novels
of the Cold War era. This is not the product of a lack of creativity on Silva’s
part but rather a reflection of current events. Russia is the adversary here,
and Allon and his team must find the one woman who can reveal the identity of a
mole who has reached the highest echelons of Britain’s MI6. The search will
take Allon deep into the past, into the secret heart of one of the 20th
century's greatest intelligence scandals. Silva’s work has always had a
political edge, and his storytelling has only grown more biting recently.
Although he doesn’t name the current American leader, he does mention “a presidential
tryst with an adult film star” as well as that president’s strange fondness for
Vladimir Putin. Silva depicts a world in which communist true believers are
dying out while far-right populists around the world look to the New Russia as
a triumph of hard-line nationalism. The alliances that have sustained Western
democracies are fraying, and Europe is preparing for a future in which the
United States is no longer a reliable friend, nor a superpower. Silva’s work is
always riveting, but this summer blockbuster isn’t exactly an escape—especially
for readers who stick around for the author’s note at the end. Although the Gabriel
Allon novels are interrelated, Silva is adept at crafting narratives that can
stand alone. This thriller will satisfy the author’s fans while it will also
appeal to those who appreciate past masters of the genre like John le Carré and
Colson, the sheriff of Mississippi’s Tibbehah County, juggles old-school and
newfangled gangs while praying that someone will get him to the church on time.
that Quinn’s finally looking forward to getting married and acquiring an
instant family that includes nurse Maggie Powers and her 7-year-old son,
Brandon, he’d love to cut back on the crime-busting. Fate, as usual, has other
plans. Heath Pritchard, the incorrigible marijuana grower Quinn’s late uncle
and predecessor Hamp Beckett locked up 23 years ago, has just been released,
and he’s eager to horn in on his nephews, dirt-track racers Tyler and Cody
Pritchard, who’ve been carrying on the family business on their own less
obtrusive terms. Heath’s unforgettable way of announcing his return to his
nearest and dearest is to tell them that he needs their help disposing of the
remains of Ordeen Davis, whom he caught nosing around on the Pritchard spread.
Fannie Hathcock wouldn’t have sent Ordeen, her bartender and general factotum
at Vienna’s Place, the county’s premier cathouse, over there in the first place
if she hadn’t been getting squeezed between the Pritchard boys, who’d been
violating a long-standing agreement with her by running way more weed than they
could have been raising themselves, and the Dixie Mafia, for whom she’s been
laundering money and providing other services for years and who now send a pair
of hands-on managers to Vienna’s Place. The only one who’s in a position to do
anything about this mess, it seems, is Quinn’s old friend Boom Kimbrough, whom
DEA agent Nathalie Wilkins is pressing to go undercover at Sutpen Trucking, still
another major player in the drug trade. Will Boom last long enough to serve as
Quinn’s best man?
it’s amusing on its own terms, the constant infighting among lowlifes keeps
this installment below Atkins’ high standard (The Fallen, 2017, etc.).
When bad guys are mostly targeting other bad guys, there’s just not that much
for good guys to do besides stand aside and watch the carnage.
A Swiss filmmaker gets ensnared in a plan to ensure Nazi
domination of world cinema in this oddball historical fiction.
Emil Nägeli has received some praise for his cinematic efforts, enough
to draw the attention of the Nazi officials chafing at Hollywood's dominance of
the world cinema market. With the luminaries of German cinema either dead (F.W.
Murnau), decamped for Hollywood (Karl Freund), or, unknown to the authorities,
about to (Fritz Lang), Nägeli is chosen as just prestigious enough and,
perhaps, malleable. He is charged with making a film that will be such an
artistic triumph that it will open cinema as a new front in the coming battle
for world domination. His location for shooting, for reasons never really made
clear, is Japan, where the Japanese film minister, Amakasu, has his own schemes
for cultural domination. Also flitting through are Charlie Chaplin (in a plot
that borders on slander) and the German film critics Lotte Eisner and Siegfried
Kracauer. What this is supposed to add up to is anyone's guess, as the novel is
interested in neither plot nor dramatization. Nearly half of the slim book is taken
up with the childhood traumas of both Nägeli and Amakasu and any memories that
have to do with ear wax or rotting teeth. There is no sense that Nägeli is
under any pressure from Nazi officials, and the vague overtures to making him a
figure of resistance don't amount to much. Nothing has any weight here. Fritz
Lang escapes Germany as if he were simply catching a train to the country. And
the reader is given no reason to care about either the characters or what story
there is given the cold detachment with which all are portrayed.
Imagine Weimar Germany as Night of the Living Dead
minus the thrills.
Sammy’s Halloween tricks are no
treat for his family when they last the whole year.
The Loomis family really goes all
out on Halloween, their haunted house putting all others to shame. But no one
loves the holiday more than Sammy, the youngest child. In fact, the day after
Halloween, he’s already planning improvements for next year’s celebration, and
he practices them on his hapless family. But the Thanksgiving turkey carved
like a jack-o’-lantern doesn’t impress, the zombie Christmas is a dud, and the
Frankenstein Fourth of July is the last straw: No more Halloween until the rest
of the family is ready. But at this point, Sammy’s older siblings recognize his
good ideas and offer to help him refine the ones that are not so awesome, and
this year’s haunted house is the best ever. Sibling cooperation, parental
recognition of hard work, and Sammy’s stick-to-itiveness give this book a
little something extra beyond just a funny Halloween tale. Petrik’s digital
illustrations have a Saturday morning–cartoon aesthetic. The Loomises all
present white, and the sister and mother wear glasses.
A concert pianist finds his life and mind drifting after an
accident damages his hand in this gloomy, evocative novel.
Mr. Field is sleeping when the book starts. He is sleeping when
a train crash shatters his left wrist. He is sleeping when his wife leaves him.
The scant story he narrates alternates between stark reality and a dreamlike
limbo, specifics and vagueness. With the compensation money he receives, he
buys a white house, a box on stilts, that overlooks the sea on the Capetown
coast of South Africa and was designed by an admirer of Le Corbusier. Mr.
Field—no definite first name is given—meets the admirer’s widow, who lives
nearby, and she soon haunts his waking life. He spends time peeping through her
garden window. He often encounters a stray dog in a graveyard when he’s out
walking. In the widow’s sitting room, a Chagall-like print shows a woman, a
dog, and a rudimentary box of a house. Near Mr. Field’s house, a circular
residential tower is being built. He wanders around his house, which is in a
state of decay, as is Mr. Field. He is sad about his lost career and lost wife.
His sadness wearies him: “I was so tired of being sad.” Maybe his wife found
his sadness tiresome. Before she left, she played computer solitaire and
studied the sea, writing observations in a notebook he later finds. Kilalea,
who grew up in South Africa and whose previous book, One Eye’d Leigh,
was a poetry collection that hasn't been published in the U.S., conjures from
precise prose and elements as basic and fraught as Tarot card images—sea,
widow, wife, round tower, box house, sad man—a kind of tone poem that seems at
times forced but ultimately resonates well beyond one man’s depression.
An auspicious debut that challenges the reader to follow the
progress of mental distress and bravely offers little relief from the painful
A young magician who cannot cast magic must prove himself in
other ways in the first installment of a new fantasy series from de Castell (Tyrant's
Throne, 2017, etc.).
Kellen is the oldest child of two powerful magicians in a
culture that prizes magic above all. At 16, he needs to prove himself a worthy
heir to his family name—but literally everyone Kellen knows can cast more magic
than him, including his little sister, Shalla, a magical prodigy. Desperate not
to embarrass his family or be relegated to the magicless servant caste, Kellen
hones his other skills—trickery, guile, and creativity. But Kellen's attempts
to game the system only buy him more trouble...though also an unpredictable
ally: a foreigner named Ferius Parfax, who has her own tricks. In turn, this
leads the Dowager Magus (widow of the recently departed ruler) to recruit
Kellen to spy on Parfax. Kellen's questions, and loyalties, multiply quickly:
Who is Parfax, and why is she here? Is his growing friendship and
identification with her worth disobeying the woman whose influence is letting
him advance in his magical tests? Who will be the new ruler? What dark secrets
are being kept from Kellen? This last turns out to be most important, as Kellen
learns long-forgotten truths about his society, with the aid of Parfax and a
creature his own people believe to be a poisonous demon. All that Kellen believes
about his world—and his own family—is called into question, but as old
loyalties fall down around his ears, new ones emerge. Will those alliances be
strong enough to guide Kellen into the man he can become without magic?
An intriguing system of magic, wry humor, and a twisting plot make
for an entertaining series debut.
Behrendt and Ruotola (It's Just a F***ing Date: Some Sort of
Book About Dating, 2013, etc.) are back, this time with a playful and
useful self-help guide to help readers through the newlywed stage of “wedded
Candid, conversational, and occasionally profane, the book is
packed with short, often hilarious nuggets culled from personal experience. “My
marriage to Amiira has been beautiful, but it has—at times—downright sucked
ass,” writes Behrendt early on. The brutal honesty builds from there, as the
authors seek to warn new couples that “historical resentments and patterns that
can demolish a marriage usually start out as something seemingly unimportant.”
This includes financial differences, plans for children, family traditions,
sex, and even the marriage proposal. “The story of my proposal is so agonizing,
writes Behrendt, “that it sits in my gut like a hibernating bear that awakens
every time I’m asked” about it. Instead of using a ring, he proposed in a
chintzy beach-house bedroom with a Christmas ornament of a male angel with “a
comically big nose holding out a gold heart.” Ruotola: “Finally, I confessed to
Greg that I was embarrassed to tell anyone that I was engaged because the first
thing anyone wants to see is THE RING.” Fortunately, the couple recovered.
Behrendt proposed again, but “alas,” he writes, “the bad proposal isn’t a thing
I’ll ever get to take back.” While the advice is occasionally repetitive of
obvious details—yes, planning a wedding is stressful—the narrative’s cautionary
tale format works thanks to the self-deprecating approach. Formatted in short
chapters of real marriage examples, listicles, Q-and-As, and checklists, the
overarching message is that, just like creating a meaningful proposal, a long
and happy union is built on “an exceptional set up….We repeat what we don’t
repair, so if you want to have a suck free marriage it requires working through
the hiccups and hurt to rid yourself of their stain.”
Sandwiching hard truths between hilarious anecdotes makes for an
entertaining alternative to couples therapy.
In our current political and cultural landscape, truth and fact
have become the ignored and unloved siblings of belief and bias.
Pulitzer Prize–winning critic Kakutani (The Poet at the
Piano: Portraits of Writers, Filmmakers, Playwrights and Other Artists at Work,
1988), who until recently was the chief book reviewer for the New York Times—already
two black marks against her in the populist playbook: She reads, and she worked
for the Times—offers a dark analysis of the rise of Donald Trump
and the fall of any concern for facts. Firmly assertive and seriously argued
(there is little humor here, but given the subject, few will blame the author),
her text is also full of allusions to and quotations from writers and others,
including George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, Richard Hofstadter, William Butler
Yeats, David Foster Wallace, and Ayn Rand. One short paragraph includes
references to The Great Gatsby, Fight Club, Michael
Houellbecq’s “willfully repellent novels,” No Country for Old Men,
and the HBO series True Detective. Through it all, Kakutani’s
strong presence sometimes disappears in a tangled wood of allusion and
quotation. Still, she sees—and ably describes—with a depressing clarity the
dangers of our brave new world. The author charts the decline of reason, the
culture wars, the appeals of Trump and his “dog-whistle racism” (she is relentless
in her attacks on the president), the language of dictators, the skills of
Russian internet trolls, the dangers of the digital age, the blather about
“fake news,” and, ultimately, the dire threat all of this poses for the
democracy we profess to cherish. Kakutani also reminds us—as if we need
reminding—that the German Nazi and Soviet Communist governments were hideous.
Her final note: “without truth, democracy is hobbled.”
A stark sermon to the choir that urges each member to sing—loudly and
laziest lawyer is dragged back into the courtroom for a 17th time in his most
reluctant role yet: as defender of his wife’s ex-boyfriend.
police arrest Dave Kramer for the best of all possible reasons: He confesses to
killing Kenny Zimmer. Two years earlier, well after he’d broken up with Laurie
Collins, Kramer, an ex-cop–turned–private
eye, had beaten up Zimmer, who admitted to assaulting the 15-year-old daughter
of Kramer’s client but had laughed off Kramer’s attempts to find evidence
against him. The police declined to press charges; Kramer lost his license; and
bad blood continued until the day Kramer says Zimmer asked him to meet at a
rest stop to discuss their ongoing issues, invited him inside the truck he
arrived in, and pulled a knife on him, provoking Kramer to shoot him in self-defense.
Unfortunately for Kramer, the police can find no trace of either a knife or the
third party Kramer insists must have removed it from the truck. Fortunately for
Kramer, dog-loving attorney Andy Carpenter (Collared, 2017, etc.) has
already spent several hours at the scene because he agreed to take in the 61
rescue dogs Zimmer was transporting north in the truck. Will Andy oblige Laurie
by agreeing to defend the former boyfriend who dumped her? If you know the
answer to that question, you won’t be very mystified by the murder either,
especially since Rosenfelt obligingly keeps cutting away to a series of dark
vignettes showing a quartet of rogue government operatives plotting something
big and nefarious in New Jersey’s heartland that’s somehow connected to the
mass exodus of rescued dogs.
like Dick Francis, keeps coming up with inventive ways to ensnare his hero in
cases involving animals. But this time, the mystery, fueled by his persistent
fondness for implausible government intrigue, is thin, and the hero, presumably
because he’s defending his beloved wife’s ex, is less funny than usual.
wheels of corporate culture turn slowly. So it takes nearly a decade for HR
executive and sometime sleuth Chuck Restic to phase out his Los Angeles
company's involvement with the questionable consulting firm Power of One, a
grandiose enterprise with a tenacious and charismatic leader but only two
full-time employees. When Chuck visits the luxe home of Power’s head, Julie St.
Jean, he’s surprised to find instead her business partner, Rebecca, who turns
out, to his surprise, to be living with her. And that’s not the biggest
surprise he gets. Inside Julie’s beautifully appointed “Dojo,” he and Rebecca
discover the corpse of Lois Hearns, a freelance Power contractor. Two LA police
detectives question and release Chuck and Rebecca. When Chuck meets with Rebecca
a few days later, however, the news that Julie’s gone missing leads him to team
up, however uneasily, with Rebecca, who’s as anxious to find her partner as he
is. Her abandoned Bentley has been found at Union Station. Chuck’s questions
cause Rebecca to realize how little she knows about Julie. The discovery of
another body, that of a man named Fitch whom both Chuck and Rebecca claim not
to know, leads to more mutual distrust even as it hints at a more dangerous
killer. The pieces of the puzzle begin to come together with the revelation
that Lois Hearns was a lawyer who brokered a prospective sale of Power of One.
Even so, more victims will be claimed before Chuck can put it all together.
subtly arch first-person narrative gives the third series installment from
Phillips (The Perpetual Summer, 2018, etc.) a smooth noir vibe, and the
additional wrinkle of an unreliable sidekick adds delicious tension to a plot
that unfolds with a satisfying series of twists.