On her way to the screen played by Elisabeth Moss, Mrs. March is absolutely right—everyone is talking about her.

MRS. MARCH

In a horror-laced psychological drama, the wife of a bestselling New York novelist learns his latest protagonist is modeled on her.

“But…isn't she...a whore?” whispers Mrs. March to the woman behind the counter at the patisserie she visits daily, who, like every other person in Manhattan, is reading, and loving, her husband's new book. Abandoning her purchases, she bolts from the store, never to return, and immediately confronts an advertisement featuring a woman smiling knowingly under the words "SHE HAD NO IDEA." Even the billboards know! This is just one of innumerable creepy details that speed Mrs. March's descent into a spiraling vortex of psychosis. Not that it's all in her head—copies of the book are everywhere, even in someone's cart at the grocery store. Debut novelist Feito sets her story in a hazy period in the pre-technology past and confines much of the action to her protagonist's claustrophobic Upper East Side apartment, where terrifying literati regularly convene for unbearable parties. Mrs. March's painfully low self-esteem drives the self-consciousness, paranoia, and jealousy that control her relationships with everyone from her housekeeper to her son to a family she runs into at the skating rink. The husband is there on a weekday? She thrills to speculate this means he's been laid off and concocts an elaborate lie to cover the real reason her own son is not in school. Mrs. March is the only character in the book who doesn't get a first name, even in a flashback to her childhood: "On tiptoes, Mrs. March cupped her hand and whispered into her mother's ear...'I have to go to the bathroom.' " While the poor woman never gets a break from the misery, Feito does offer the reader a few homeopathic drops of humor, such as when her protagonist learns that people will do just about anything you ask if you tell them you work for the New York Times. Feito is Spanish and lives in Madrid, but somehow she is the love child of Patricia Highsmith and Shirley Jackson.

On her way to the screen played by Elisabeth Moss, Mrs. March is absolutely right—everyone is talking about her.

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63149-861-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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As one of Whitehead’s characters might say of their creator, When you’re hot, you’re hot.

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HARLEM SHUFFLE

After winning back-to-back Pulitzer Prizes for his previous two books, Whitehead lets fly with a typically crafty change-up: a crime novel set in mid-20th-century Harlem.

The twin triumphs of The Underground Railroad (2016) and The Nickel Boys (2019) may have led Whitehead’s fans to believe he would lean even harder on social justice themes in his next novel. But by now, it should be clear that this most eclectic of contemporary masters never repeats himself, and his new novel is as audacious, ingenious, and spellbinding as any of his previous period pieces. Its unlikely and appealing protagonist is Ray Carney, who, when the story begins in 1959, is expecting a second child with his wife, Elizabeth, while selling used furniture and appliances on Harlem’s storied, ever bustling 125th Street. Ray’s difficult childhood as a hoodlum’s son forced to all but raise himself makes him an exemplar of the self-made man to everybody but his upper-middle-class in-laws, aghast that their daughter and grandchildren live in a small apartment within earshot of the subway tracks. Try as he might, however, Ray can’t quite wrest free of his criminal roots. To help make ends meet as he struggles to grow his business, Ray takes covert trips downtown to sell lost or stolen jewelry, some of it coming through the dubious means of Ray’s ne’er-do-well cousin, Freddie, who’s been getting Ray into hot messes since they were kids. Freddie’s now involved in a scheme to rob the Hotel Theresa, the fabled “Waldorf of Harlem," and he wants his cousin to fence whatever he and his unsavory, volatile cohorts take in. This caper, which goes wrong in several perilous ways, is only the first in a series of strenuous tests of character and resources Ray endures from the back end of the 1950s to the Harlem riots of 1964. Throughout, readers will be captivated by a Dickensian array of colorful, idiosyncratic characters, from itchy-fingered gangsters to working-class women with a low threshold for male folly. What’s even more impressive is Whitehead’s densely layered, intricately woven rendering of New York City in the Kennedy era, a time filled with both the bright promise of greater economic opportunity and looming despair due to the growing heroin plague. It's a city in which, as one character observes, “everybody’s kicking back or kicking up. Unless you’re on top.”

As one of Whitehead’s characters might say of their creator, When you’re hot, you’re hot.

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-385-54513-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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Stone’s least indulgent adventure in years. Never say never!

FOUL PLAY

A new client spells nothing but trouble for Stone Barrington and himself.

Now that he’s sold his family business for $250 million, Shepherd Troutman has come to New York to spread his wings. And it’s hard to imagine any person in fiction or real life better able to help him spend gobs of money than Stone. Before he can start signing those checks for the Bentley and the suite at the Carlyle Hotel, though, Shep has to get rescued from outside Stone’s Turtle Bay home, where a masked thug has beaten him senseless, and from any suspicion of having strangled the nameless call girl who turns up in his suite at the Carlyle—an episode that makes him think twice about that particular purchase. As the attacks continue, it becomes clear that someone has it in for Shep, and the someone, under the fig-leaf disguise of a Delaware corporation, is Russian mobster Gregor Kronk. There’s no negotiating with Kronk, Stone’s security advisers tell him after he’s spirited Shep and Roderick Troutman, the father who faked his own death in order to avoid involvement, out of New York; the only sane strategy is to give him what he wants, a series of patents worth another $250 million. Naturally, this perfectly reasonable advice grates on Stone, and the battle between good and evil is on once again, this time with two pleasing novelties: a plot twist most readers won’t see coming (and some won’t believe even after it arrives) and a focus, increasingly rare in Woods’ thrillers-by-the-yard, on actually unfolding a single sustained narrative with limited interruptions for sex, posturing, upscale spending, and loose ends.

Stone’s least indulgent adventure in years. Never say never!

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-33169-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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