Sensitive work more deeply felt than strongly plotted.

ANGELS IN THE WIND

A family affair takes ex-con private eye Agustín Corral from his Denver home to the East Colorado boondocks of Melton and beyond.

Though he’s only 17, Matías Montoya has already run away from home more than once. But he’s always returned to his adoptive parents, George and Cindy Montoya, after a few days. This time he’s been away for a month. So George’s sister, Essie, calls her cousin Gus to find the boy—or find out what’s become of him. Mat’s troubles clearly began at home. He constantly fought with his father, a veteran with PTSD, and had recently been dumped by his Anglo girlfriend, cheerleader Yvonne Cleary, whose comfortably racist parents were determined to keep Mexican Americans out of their family. On his way out, Mat had left his backpack with self-described writer Wes Delgado, but the backpack has disappeared, and Delgado offers no more help. So Gus follows a lead to The Rising Sun, a shelter for runaways in Pueblo. Toni Marriot, who runs the place, refuses to say anything about the teens who’ve passed through without a court order. Jeannie, another runaway, directs Gus to local fixture Alex Temerio, but Alex merely threatens Gus if he won’t leave town, and two thugs follow up in the dead of night to make sure he gets the message. Despite the formidable forces arrayed against him, Gus uncovers such a web of crime in Pueblo that Mat’s fate comes across as something of an afterthought.

Sensitive work more deeply felt than strongly plotted.

Pub Date: April 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-55885-920-3

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Arte Público

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how...

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THE A LIST

A convicted killer’s list of five people he wants dead runs the gamut from the wife he’s already had murdered to franchise heroine Ali Reynolds.

Back in the day, women came from all over to consult Santa Clarita fertility specialist Dr. Edward Gilchrist. Many of them left his care happily pregnant, never dreaming that the father of the babies they carried was none other than the physician himself, who donated his own sperm rather than that of the handsome, athletic, disease-free men pictured in his scrapbook. When Alexandra Munsey’s son, Evan, is laid low by the kidney disease he’s inherited from his biological father and she returns to Gilchrist in search of the donor’s medical records, the roof begins to fall in on him. By the time it’s done falling, he’s serving a life sentence in Folsom Prison for commissioning the death of his wife, Dawn, the former nurse and sometime egg donor who’d turned on him. With nothing left to lose, Gilchrist tattoos himself with the initials of five people he blames for his fall: Dawn; Leo Manuel Aurelio, the hit man he’d hired to dispose of her; Kaitlyn Todd, the nurse/receptionist who took Dawn’s place; Alex Munsey, whose search for records upset his apple cart; and Ali Reynolds, the TV reporter who’d helped put Alex in touch with the dozen other women who formed the Progeny Project because their children looked just like hers. No matter that Ali’s been out of both California and the news business for years; Gilchrist and his enablers know that revenge can’t possibly be served too cold. Wonder how far down that list they’ll get before Ali, aided once more by Frigg, the methodical but loose-cannon AI first introduced in Duel to the Death (2018), turns on them?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how little the boundary-challenged AI, who gets into the case more or less inadvertently, differs from your standard human sidekick with issues.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5101-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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A unique if occasionally overreaching novel for lovers of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

FLORENCE ADLER SWIMS FOREVER

In a darkly comic debut, Beanland tells the story of a Jewish family on the New Jersey coast in 1934.

It begins with tragedy: Florence Adler, while working toward her ambitious goal of becoming the first Jewish woman to swim the English Channel, drowns off the coast of Atlantic City. Shifting ambitiously among seven different third-person perspectives, the novel explores the aftermath of the tragedy as experienced by three generations of the Adler family and those adjacent to it. Florence’s older sister, Fannie, is on bed rest as she prepares to give birth to her third child a year after having lost her second. The Adler family matriarch, Esther, decides it would be best to keep the tragedy from Fannie in order to minimize her risk of losing the baby. As the family fights against all odds to keep this huge secret, other issues are brought to light, from jealousy to hidden romances to shady business dealings. Remarkably, the plot feels coherent despite the seven points of view, but the novel falters thematically; it could have been a sensitive exploration of the sometimes-absurd lengths we'll go to protect the people we love, but it turns into a diffuse attempt to do too much. The novel's events take place in the shadow of the approaching Holocaust, but the author fails to engage meaningfully with it and so it reads like an afterthought. Perhaps Beanland thought writing a story about Jews set in the 1930s that doesn't deal with that tragedy would be frivolous or insensitive, but the result of her half-baked approach is an “add-Holocaust-and-stir” effect that lacks emotional verisimilitude. In addition, some of the Jewish details in the novel are historically dubious if not incorrect. In this regard, it is reminiscent of the hit show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel; also in this regard, the particularity of the setting may nonetheless be enough to buoy it, particularly for those interested in little-known pieces of American Jewish culture.

A unique if occasionally overreaching novel for lovers of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982132-46-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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