Fiction from Andrews, Roberts, Ware, and Debuter Thomas | Xpress Reviews

Mainly for Andrews’s fans; Roberts does an excellent job of creating sympathetic and relatable characters with real-life problems; Thomas writes with confident verve and a gift for expressive dialog; Ware’s fourth novel is her best yet

Week ending April 20, 2018


Andrews, Mary Kay. The High Tide Club. St. Martin’s. May 2018. 480p. ISBN 9781250126061. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250126092. F

In October 1941, four young women buried a man on Talisa Island off the coast of Georgia. Almost 80 years later, millionaire Josephine Bettendorf Warrick, at 99, is fighting the state to hold onto the island. She wants to bequeath her home to her estranged friends or their descendants, so she hires attorney Brooke Trappnell to find them. The story of that October week is told in alternating chapters with the account of Brooke’s search for the descendants. Josephine dies before she can reveal all her secrets, but Brooke juggles the investigation into Josephine’s story with her own struggles as a single mother. The contemporary group of women never come together in this novel. There are too many essential female characters, and some, including Josephine, come across as unlikable. The story moves very slowly, with little action until halfway through the book. While Andrews (The Weekenders) successfully links the two plotlines, Brooke’s story of her relationship with her son’s father has little development and an abrupt conclusion.

Verdict Mainly for Andrews’s fans. [See Prepub Alert, 11/26/17.]—Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN


Roberts, Sheila. Welcome to Moonlight Harbor. Mira: Harlequin. (Moonlight Harbor, Bk. 1). Apr. 2018. 400p. ISBN 9780778368052. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781488032851. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

For her 40th birthday, Jenna Jones gets to celebrate—her divorce. She not only has primary custody of her 14-year-old daughter, but she also must pay spousal support to her starving artist ex-husband and his new “muse.” When Jenna receives a plea from her elderly great-aunt to help her run the Driftwood Inn, it seems her prayers have been answered. Jenna is ecstatic to turn over a new leaf at the Washington beach where she spent some of the best summer days of her life, even if she has to drag her daughter kicking and screaming. Reality sets in when the town of Jenna’s childhood memories and the inn itself aren’t as rosy as she recalls.

Verdict Roberts (Christmas in Icicle Falls) does an excellent job of creating sympathetic and relatable characters with real-life problems in a small-town setting. The beginning entry in this hopeful series will win over readers looking for a comforting escape.—Nicole J. Suarez, Frankfort P.L. Dist., IL


starred review starThomas, August. Liar’s Candle. Scribner. Apr. 2018. 320p. ISBN 9781501172847. $25; pap. ISBN 9781501194320. $18; ebk. ISBN 9781501172861. THRILLER

[DEBUT] This first novel by a promising young writer puts Turkey’s roiling politics onto center stage. Penny Kessler, a summer intern at the U.S. embassy in Ankara, is a lively lass with an attraction to all things Turkish. When a huge explosion rocks the Fourth of July reception, she is a lucky survivor—but likely not for long. With complications far too byzantine to trace here, Penny goes underground to evade her pursuers. Her starting point finds her in a hospital gown, hooked to an IV, with no money and no phone. Resourceful, plucky, fluent in Turkish, she unknowingly has one CIA covert agent as her ally and another as her enemy.

Verdict A Turkish proverb, “A liar’s candle burns only until dark,” illuminates this hell-for-leather thriller pitting a ruthless patriot against a naïve ingénue. Loading her novel with insider bits about embassy lore and ardent affection for Turkey’s wonders, Thomas writes with confident verve and a gift for expressive dialog. Readers who love her breathless pace will be eager for her next effort in the espionage fiction sweepstakes.—Barbara Conaty, Falls Church, VA


starred review starWare, Ruth. The Death of Mrs. Westaway. Scout: Gallery. May 2018. 384p. ISBN 9781501156212. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781501156229. SUSPENSE

Harriet “Hal” Westaway is barely holding it together. After her mother’s death, Hal took over her fortune-telling stall on the Brighton Pier. But a loan she received at a particularly low point has come due, and the men out to collect on it don’t care that she doesn’t have the money; their threats have Hal looking over her shoulder and fearing for her safety. So when a letter arrives informing her that she’s a beneficiary in her grandmother’s will—a letter she knows is a mistake: her grandparents have been dead for years—Hal puts her people-reading skills to good use to try to get the money and the loan sharks off her back. But everything at Trepassen House seems deeply off, from the inexplicably hostile elderly housekeeper to the strange relationships among her “uncles” to the room where she sleeps only locking from the outside. And then there are the unexpected terms of the will…. Ware’s fourth novel (after The Lying Game) is her best yet, with steadily increasing tension, a complicated twisty mystery, and a sharp, sympathetic heroine who’s up to the challenge of solving it.

Verdict Recommend to fans of the author and readers who love immersing themselves in well-crafted, gothic-tinged suspense. [See Prepub Alert, 11/6/17; a May LibraryReads Pick.—Ed.]—Stephanie Klose, Library Journal

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