Fiction from Beck, Freeman, Patrick, Peterson, Weir, and First-Timer Konig | Xpress Reviews

Week ending April 21, 2017

starred review starBeck, Haylen. Here and Gone. Crown. Jun. 2017. 304p. ISBN 9780451499578. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780451499592. F
hereandgone042117Audra is driving cross-country with her two children, escaping a troubled past to an unknown future. In a remote Arizona town, she is arrested on marijuana charges and her children taken “somewhere safe.” But their disappearance raises suspicions that she killed her kids. Audra is adamant that the local sheriff has taken them, but no one believes her, and the media, sensing a ratings-boosting scandal, descend upon the place. Meanwhile, a California man hears the sensationalized news stories and recognizes Audra’s plight. After a day or two of soul searching, he boards a plane to Arizona in the hopes that resolving Audra’s situation can help him solve the disappearance of his own child five years earlier. The two strong personalities form a strained alliance and together try to find answers, and Audra’s children, before it’s too late.
Verdict Beck (a pen name of Irish crime writer Stuart Neville) keeps the pages turning with plenty of suspenseful twists and turns. Fans of Harlan Coben and Jan Burke will be intrigued by this American-set thriller from the author of The Ghosts of Belfast. [See Prepub Alert, 1/8/17.]—Elizabeth Masterson, Mecklenburg Cty. Jail Lib., Charlotte, NC

Freeman, Brian. Marathon: A Jonathan Stride Thriller. Quercus. May 2017. 408p. ISBN 9781681442419. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781681442396. F
This newest addition to the Jonathan Stride series (after Goodbye to the Dead) opens in Duluth, MN, with crowds cheering on the marathon runners as they triumphantly near the finish line. Suddenly a bomb explodes killing and maiming spectators and runners. Nothing will be the same until the Duluth police, represented by Jonathan Stride, Serena Dial, and Maggie Bei, joined by the FBI, solve the case. A witness claims to have seen a Muslim man with a backpack near the finish line prior to the explosion. With sickening speed, the city launches into a witch hunt for a supposed Islamic terrorist after his photo is sent out on Twitter, splitting the town into factions. Life quickly becomes extremely difficult for the Muslim residents as they are targeted on social media with threats until the inevitable disaster occurs. Although obviously influenced by the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, the well-thought-out plot here takes many different twists before the truth is revealed.
Fans of the series should enjoy this fast-paced new addition, which exhibits solid character development, but lovers of crime novels and police procedurals generally will also appreciate this one as a reminder that, in these days and times, what seems to be foreign, politically, or religiously inspired terrorism may really be something quite different.—Vicki Gregory, Sch. of Information, Univ. of South Florida, Tampa

Konig, Orly. The Distance Home. Forge: Tor. May 2017. 336p. ISBN 9780765390417. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9780765390431. F
[DEBUT] Growing up, Emma and Jillian were best friends and horse lovers, but an accident that killed a horse and injured another split their friendship irrevocably. Now a successful businesswoman in Chicago, Emma Metz returns to Emmitsville, MD. She’s only planning to stay long enough to put her father’s affairs in order, but the pull of the horses is too strong. She returns to Jumping Frog Farm, where the horses and Jillian’s grandparents are happy to see her—even if Jillian isn’t. Being back on the farm brings up for Emma memories of her mother’s death, her cold upbringing by her father, and her passionate relationship with the animals and exposes feelings she has been trying to suppress under her ambitious career goals. But as in many homecoming stories, Emma finds that you can’t re-create the past. As she reconstructs her family’s history through her father’s letters and confronting Jillian, she also figures out how to construct her future.
Verdict Readers who were horse-crazy girls will recognize Emma’s deep emotions and find the story of lost and found love of horses compelling.—Anika Fajardo, St. Paul

starred review starPatrick, Phaedra. Rise and Shine, Benedict Stone. Park Row: Harlequin. May 2017. 368p. ISBN 9780778319993. $24.99; pap. ISBN 9780778331292. $15.99. F
riseandshine042117Benedict Stone runs a small jewelry shop in the village on Noon Sun. He’s totally adrift; business is slow, his marriage is unraveling, and his days are lonely and predictable. Suddenly Gemma, the teenage daughter of his estranged brother, appears at his door intending to stay for a while. Obstinate, intrepid, and occasionally helpful, she upends his life and sets about engineering a reconciliation between Benedict and his wife and jump-starting his failing business. Using her grandfather’s journals on the history of gems, Gemma refreshes Benedict’s work and embellishes the lives of the residents of the tiny town.
Verdict Novels about love and second chances abound right now, but Patrick’s follow-up to her debut, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, rises to the top with its clever plot, utterly charming characters, and warmly believable conclusion. A perfect read for lovers of Antoine Laurain’s The Red Notebook, Gabrielle Zevin’s The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, and Fredrik Backman’s A Man Called Ove. [See Prepub Alert, 12/5/16.]—Susan Clifford Braun, Bainbridge Island, WA

Peterson, Holly. It Happens in the Hamptons. Morrow. May 2017. 384p. ISBN 9780062391506. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062391513. F
In Peterson’s latest (after The Idea of Him), it’s the townies vs. the summer people in New York’s tony enclave the Hamptons. Katie Doyle met George Porter at a conference in Oregon, and they shared four weekends that give her hope for a burgeoning relationship. When he urges her to travel cross-country for the summer to stay in one of his family cottages, she hesitates. She has an eight-year-old son, Huck, to consider. George is persistent, though—insisting there will be no strings attached—so Katie takes him up on his offer. She and Huck arrive Memorial Day weekend and are soon plunged into the social whirl and the politics of a town that has yearlong residents and those who take over for the summer. One of those “townies” is Luke, a surfer and marine biologist who takes a shine to Huck. Soon Katie is torn between what she has with George, though she’s sometimes a bit uneasy in that relationship, and her attraction to Luke.
Verdict This book has a bit of an identity crisis. At times it reads as straight chick lit, at others an attempt at biting commentary about the town’s inhabitants, but suffers mostly from characters thinly drawn and a story that meanders a bit. Still, those who enjoyed Peterson’s first novel, The Manny, will surely like this one.—Jane Jorgenson, Madison P.L., WI

Weir, Alison. Anne Boleyn, a King’s Obsession. Ballantine. (Six Tudor Queens, Bk. 2). May 2017. 560p. ISBN 9781101966518. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781101966525. F
The most controversial of Henry VIII’s wives takes the spotlight in historian and novelist Weir’s (Innocent Traitor) second entry (after Katherine of Aragon, the True Queen) in her “Six Tudor Queens” series. Weir follows Anne’s path from naïve girlhood through her marriage to Henry VIII after his infamous divorce and up until her execution, including abundant time spent on periods not often covered in other novels, such as Anne’s time spent in other European royal courts. Weir’s Anne, an intellectual and ambitious woman highly interested in the latest thinking about both religion and women’s social roles, fits in well with the recent impulse in both scholarship and fiction to reclaim Anne from being portrayed as merely a manipulative temptress and cold-hearted homewrecker. Anne in the years before she catches Henry’s eye is particularly interesting, especially the inclusion of other lesser-known powerful women of the era such as Marguerite of Austria.
Verdict Though Weir’s prose gets bogged down in detail at times, overall this is a well-written and fast-paced novel that should appeal to fans of Tudor-era fiction looking for a fresh look at one of the period’s most popular protagonists.—Mara Bandy Fass, Champaign P.L., IL


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