The Coming Storm

The Coming Storm is a much-anticipated follow-up to Greg Mosse’s well-regarded 2022 debut thriller, The Coming Darkness. The new book takes up the complex, futuristic plot of the first novel. I hadn’t read the earlier book, and there were some situations I didn’t completely understand, at least at first, but that really didn’t affect my experience of this new book. Mosse so effectively establishes that the deteriorating social and political situation in his dystopian future matters greatly to the characters that a little ambiguity didn’t put me off.

Mosse writes about a future (the year is 2037) we can see, at least dimly, especially on our bad days. Eco-terrorism. Drought and a rapidly warming climate. Strange, difficult-to-treat infections. And hazards of any era: people in power who can’t be trusted and whose self-interest trumps any impulse to do good.

The action takes place mostly in France and North Africa. The main character, Alexandre Lamarque, is widely regarded as “the man who saved the world” from eco-terrorism. This is an embarrassing level of notoriety he’d just as soon do without. And it’s made him a target. But of whom? Or who all?

Three eco-terrorism plots are in play: opposition to the enlargement of a dam, a plot to destroy the Aswan dam which will practically annihilate Egypt, and sabotage in the lithium mining industry.(I was a bit puzzled by the references to lithium mining, as I thought lithium does not occur in concentrations that would allow it to be mined in any conventional way, but perhaps I missed that explanation.)

Cutting back and forth between these several ambitious plots and Lemarque’s efforts to discover and thwart them, the story speeds along. While Lemarque and his colleagues are strong characters, the terrorists themselves remain somewhat shadowy. Lurking way in the background is a man who seems to be the main plotter, living on a Caribbean island near Haiti, who is the least believable of all.

The unfolding of the terrorists’ plans is certainly exciting. Yet I couldn’t help a bit of a bait-and-switch feeling when I realized they wouldn’t be resolved by the end of the book. Of course, they’re all so significant that, realistically, they can’t be dealt with in any quick way, so perhaps, in spreading the action over several volumes, Mosse has made a good choice. One that will require Book Three, at least. People who read and enjoyed the first book will be happy to see this follow-up and will no doubt look forward to the story’s ultimate resolution. The Coming Storm terrorists are not finished, and neither is Lamarque. And certainly not Mosse.

The Debt Collector

Your expectations will be upended at every turn in Steven Max Russo’s new crime thriller, The Debt Collector. Supposedly, there are only two plots in all of literature: a person goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town. This story flows from the latter tradition, and Abigail Barnes is a stranger in almost every respect.

In the opening scene, Abby is driving her BMW through densely urban northern New Jersey, hears a gunshot, and sees what must be a robbery in progress. A man wearing only some dingy underwear and carrying a shotgun runs out of a liquor store and right in front of her car. Does she panic? Not at all. Does she slam the BMW into reverse? No way. She tells him to get in and drives him home. Confused, he leaves the shotgun behind. The next morning, she’s at his front door offering his gun.

That’s how Abby becomes acquainted with pleasantly inept Hector Perez. She’s a pretty, young, rather petite blonde, new in town and looking for work. She’s a debt collector on the dark side, hired by bookies, loan sharks, and others having difficulty collecting what they’re owed. Like Hector did, prospective clients take one look at her and laugh. They can’t believe this tiny woman could get their hard-case borrowers to pay up. She volunteers to demonstrate, and they laugh again. For the last time.

Abby has a saying that works for her, “It isn’t violence but fear of violence that gets people to pay.” Unfortunately, one person Abby collects from is murdered later that same night. Now it’s in everyone’s interest to identify the murderer. Because a big-time investment company is planning to build a fancy new building in the cash-strapped town, everyone from the governor, to the city’s mayor, to the police chief, to various local gang leaders wants to close the case pronto. But Abby realizes “close”’ does not necessarily mean “solve.” That will be her job.

The characters busily scheme against each other, explaining each new development in whatever way suits their own best interests. (I can’t help but think how tricky it must have been to write this, keeping straight everyone’s assumptions, right or wrong.) Their various stratagems make for a very entertaining plot, as well as strong character development, as you learn how each of them thinks. And Russo has some nifty surprises in store, too.

Abby is unsentimental; she just wants to get the job done. She’s an appealing and entertaining character, and author Russo provides some humorous banter, especially between Abby and Hector. But, truly, she can think rings around all of those guys.

Gritty, urban North Jersey, the narrow streets lined with cars, the low-budget hotels, the Italian restaurants, the walk-up offices—they all come through believably. Russo has had a long career as a New Jersey advertising executive, and puts his creative mind to good use now writing fiction. It’s a fun read with characters to believe in.

Rodolfo Walsh’s Last Case by Elsa Drucaroff

Weary of US politics? How about a peek at the way other countries handle political disputes? Argentina, for example. In this historical “true crime” novel by Argentine novelist and literature professor Elsa Drucaroff, translated from the Spanish by Slava Faybysh, fact and fiction overlap, reinforce, and illuminate each other.

In real life, as in the novel, Rodolfo Walsh was a well-known Argentinian writer of detective fiction and an investigative journalist. His career started in the politically tumultuous 1950s and continued for the two succeeding decades. He joined a militant underground group, the Montoneros, allied with the Peronists (“Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina”—that Peron family). The Montoneros appointed him their director of intelligence, and he was adept at ferreting out information to aid their cause. These activities and the militance of his daughter Maria Victoria (Vicki) made them regime targets. Walsh was eventually assassinated in 1977, the day after publishing his famously scathing Open Letter from a Writer to the Military Junta, criticizing its economic policies.

Drucaroff weaves her novel around these facts and a compelling “what if?” What if, using his skills as a writer of detective stories, Walsh investigated the disappearance of his 26-year-old daughter himself? She, along with four men, were involved in a shoot-out with army troops—tanks and helicopter included—but in Drucaroff’s story, he is tantalized by differing reports of the number of bodies removed from the building and whether the woman involved was still alive when she was taken away. He has to track down the facts.

You can see why Walsh might want to shift his interest away from the Montoneros, who are prone to lengthy debates on Marxist principles (I hadn’t heard the phrase “dialectical materialism” in, I don’t know, decades?), and engage in a little practical action.

There’s danger in the air, and Walsh and his key contacts go about their business in increasing peril. In politically fraught stories, peopled by spies and secret police, you can never be absolutely sure which side a character is on, and Drucaroff has some surprises in store.

Drucaroff writes in a particular style, providing limited visual description. To keep the story moving, she places greater reliance on the significance of interactions among characters and their dialog. And move it does. It’s written in short segments—sometimes only a page or two until the point of view changes. From the early political arguments, where the story stalls a bit, to its acceleration with her cinematic cutting back and forth, the pace soon hurtles toward its dramatic climax.

Not a must-read, but an interesting and memorable look at another corner of the world we hear relatively little about.

Deep Freeze by Michael Grumley

If you’d like to write a creepily exciting medical thriller set in the near future, you could do worse than Michael C. Grumley did in his new medical/techno-thriller, Deep Freeze. Like him, you might want to consider the consequences of the hubristic quest for immortality. Who would want such a thing? What massive ego is required to even contemplate it? And, at a technical level, how could science make it possible?

Lifespan extension is a hot topic today that extends beyond the laboratory into policymaking or even, you might say, philosophy. The conceptual seeds for a changed mindset about the inevitability of aging have already been planted. An effort is afoot to have aging declared a disease—a Pandora’s box for sure—which will legitimate medical research aimed at making aging “curable,” even reversible.

The bedrock requirement of medical and science-based thrillers is the believability of the underlying science. It may not be technically correct, and if it involves the future, it may never come to pass. Yet, the science must carry authority, with enough detail to be persuasive, but without turning into a textbook. Michael Crichton was a master at this; Neal Stephenson is too. It’s clear Grumley has done his research. He brings together several advances in medical science that might address some of the inherent challenges of enhanced longevity. Yet I wasn’t able to totally suspend disbelief, in part because his characters didn’t think like the many doctors and researchers I’ve worked with.

In an isolated research center in the Arizona desert some twenty years in the future, Grumley writes, medical scientists are working on a one-of-a-kind technology. You very soon get an inkling that everything in the running of the lab is not on the up-and-up. The sophisticated machine that Rachel Souza (a vascular physician) and her friend, technician Henry Yamada, are testing is designed to warm a frozen body (think cryogenics) very slowly. The machine has worked on animals, and the story begins with the first human test, an attempt to thaw the frozen body of former US Army Special Forces veteran John Reiff. Clearly, the stakes are high.

And they are successful. As Reiff gradually regains both physical and mental capacity, he senses Rachel and Henry aren’t completely honest about where he is and what the project is all about. But those uneasy feelings are nothing compared to the shock of learning he’s been kept in a frozen state by someone, somewhere, for twenty-two years. From the point he becomes aware of what’s happened to him, the story becomes a frantic scramble for Rachel, Henry, and Reiff’s survival (ironic, given the book’s overall theme). It becomes much like a conventional cat-and-mouse thriller.

Determinedly, almost naively, optimistic, Rachel takes much too long to recognize that all isn’t as it should be in the lab. Blinders on, she wasn’t convincing. Nor did I believe in the story’s villains—they were cardboard-cutout-evil.

Grumley maneuvers around the project’s ethical issues by eventually describing how, during the period Reiff was frozen, the world economy, governments, and social systems totally imploded. Traditional norms were abandoned. That’s such a major piece of context, it would have helped to have it much sooner—and in convincing detail. It also explains the odd anti-government allusions that occur earlier in the story. Several major pieces of the story are left hanging and will probably be the subject of subsequent books in this series (this is Book 1).

This medical thriller has a strong opening and includes several quite likeable and interesting characters. It provides a lot to think about, too, at multiple levels. You can’t quite hear about certain new medical advances without recalling it.

Stories in the Shadows

Two excellent crime stories, separated by a continent, couldn’t be more different, despite their similar titles. We have the East Coast version, The Psychologist’s Shadow, in which a psychologist (whose office is a mile from where I live IRL) is being stalked, and the danger is rising. Far away, on the West Coast, an AWOL Afghanistan vet ends up working as security in a Southern California strip club in Shadow Dance. Trouble ensues. Both authors are poets too. That helps the quality of the writing, and the reading is top-drawer too.

The Psychologist’s Shadow by Laury A. Egan
Fittingly, most of this story unwinds inside the head of psychologist Ellen Haskell, 36. Ellen has closed her Manhattan clinical practice and opened a new office in Princton, New Jersey, the college town where I live. Naturally, the mentions of familiar restaurants, stores, and roads is fun for me, but if you can conjure up a college town with its collection of characters and pressures, you’ll recognize it too.

What’s different about this novel is how well you get to know Ellen’s patients, as you journey through her week. As each patient’s problems are unmasked, you realize that any one of them could be the stalker plaguing her. She lives in a rural area some miles from town in a modern house with much glass. At night, everything inside is easily visible if someone were spying on her. Bit by bit, Ellen becomes convinced someone is.

As so often happens, a person who can offer sound advice or insights about other people seems not to carry that skill over to her own life. Slow to recognize danger. Reluctant to act.

You can almost believe Egan is herself a psychotherapist, so much of the patients’ stories is described with clinical sensitivity. But she is not. She is the author of a dozen previous novels, and has also published short stories and poetry, which may be why her language, even when talking about such elusive matters as feelings, is so clear.

Shadow Dance by Martin Ott
Buddy Rivet has ended his several tours in Afghanistan, somewhat—no, a great deal—worse for wear. He travels cross-country toward the disillusioning promise of California where his best friend Solomon St. James is working as a DJ in a strip club called, with deliberate irony, Club Paradise.

Solomon’s employer is Big Z Pourali, head of an extended Iranian family that believes it can write its own rules. The men are bullies, violent and abusive. The scheming, manipulative women—though attractive, unfortunately, to Solomon and Buddy—have their own agendas.

Rivet’s friend Solomon is gliding down a path to almost certain destruction, dealing drugs and consorting with would-be gangsters. Drugs, guns, alcohol, and sex—what can go wrong? Pretty much everything.

While all this may sound fairly bleak (and is), there’s humor too, and the quality of Ott’s writing lifts the story above its back-alley surroundings. He makes Rivet a perceptive observer, and what he sees are people who will always be on the outside looking in.

I liked Rivet, and I came to believe Club Paradise is only a temporary waystation on his journey to full adulthood, with new adventures to relate. You just have to hope he does find himself, somewhere, soon.

CIA veteran David McCloskey’s New Thriller: Moscow X

Two years ago, David McCloskey hit it big with his debut espionage novel, Damascus Station. Hordes of readers, intelligence professionals, and critics alike praised its realism and lively, timely plot. His new book, Moscow X, is even better, with more than one pundit calling him “The new John Le Carré.”

There’s no point in suggesting the plot in anything other than broad brush strokes because, in the tradition of the best spy fiction, what’s happening on the surface, the day-to-day events, are only a small part of the picture. And probably misleading too. I saw this story as essentially about the interplay of three women, all three well characterized, committed, and worth rooting for. But vastly different agendas.

Outspoken and profane Artemis Aphrodite Procter is back, heading a new CIA unit called Moscow X whose aim is to undermine the Russian Federation and—yes, McCloskey names names—Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. Her unconventional approach to spycraft gives her a creative edge in this job and, naturally, keeps her skating on some pretty thin bureaucratic ice. Hortensia Fox is a CIA operative working at a London law firm that specializes in handling the assets of wealthy Russians. Calling herself Sia, she’s busily trolling for information and cultivating contacts. Anna Andreevna Agapova is a Russian FSB agent, member of a wealthy Russian family, and married to an even wealthier man she cannot stand, for good reason. The Agapova family is being systematically shut out of the government power structure and, as the story opens, a huge portion of its wealth is stolen at the behest of a Putin intimate. Anna and her father believe (or prefer to believe) this occurred outside Putin’s awareness, and they want their money back.

Procter, as much a fireball as ever, sees an opportunity for Sia to use this theft as an opening wedge that will lead to, well, who knows? Maybe getting the money back and maybe in a way that looks like a coup was in the works. If Putin hasn’t paid attention to the internecine warfare among his cronies, he cannot ignore an attempted coup. And would take dramatic, destabilizing action in response.

Procter’s team develops a rather charming ruse to get Anna and her husband, Vadim, in contact with the Western agents. Vadim and Anna live on a large horse farm outside Saint Petersburg. Sia offers a visit to an elegant Mexican horse farm, headed by Maximiliano Castillo—around Sia’s age and handsome—leaving out the critical detail that the farm has been a CIA front for decades. All Max and Sia need do is act like a couple and winkle their way into the Russians’ confidence, Anna’s at least, through the business of buying and selling and riding thoroughbreds. It becomes a clever cat-and-mouse game between Anna and Sia and your opinion of which is the cat and which the mouse will keep changing.

Difficulty piles onto difficulty. What makes this book such an exciting read is that, between the Russians’ impenetrable motivations and the Western agents’ complicated and shifting agendas, there is no end to the potential dangers Max and Sia and Anna face, with Procter wringing her hands back in Langley. Although all the characters’ actions make sense, according to their own visions of reality and self-interest, you nevertheless can’t predict what will happen when you turn the page. When your operative in a hostile country starts looking for a beam she can throw a noose over, you know the situation has reached a desperate point.

Oh, and did I mention it’s winter in Russia? Lots of snow. Snow everywhere. You can’t hide your tracks or your heat sig and, of course, those drones with their facial recognition technology are watching. When Max and Sia visit Anna, they know microphones and cameras are everywhere, even in the bedroom, so their being a couple has to seem real to those watchers—more challenging than it sounds.

McCloskey effectively evokes the paranoia and suspicion of the autocratic Russian state, in contrast to sunny San Cristobal. The author avoids most mention of the drug cartels, and you may wonder how the Castillo family keeps that brand of violence away from their barns and pastures, but so much bad stuff is going on—you’ll never miss it.

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Valley of Refuge

Valley of Refuge, the new thriller by John Teschner, starts off like a mystery. At least it was a mystery to me, with three intriguing stories evolving at once. Social media magnate Frank Dalton is doing something Big on the Big Island of Hawai`i, a woman passenger on a Hawai`i-bound airplane has completely lost her memory and doesn’t recognize the person her passport says she is, and a young Hawaiian woman, Nalani, is at risk of losing her ancestral lands, which the magnate wants.

As the stories move forward—and especially as the memory of the woman called Janice Diaz gradually returns, these strands weave into a tightly constructed, complex plot. Because the action—and Teschner packs plenty of it into the novel’s seven-day timeline—takes place almost exclusively in Hawai`i, you’re treated to elegant descriptions of the topography and plant life, the fishing and surfing, the sunsets and weather—including a cataclysmic rainstorm at the climax that will leave you feeling drenched.

Frank Dalton heads a company called Sokoni that dominates the social media world. Make that “the world.” But for someone who amassed his fortune enabling people to make connections with each other, his project in Hawai`i is the antithesis of that. He’s building a no-expense-spared refuge with the impossible goal of keeping people out.

Janice Diaz is whisked from the plane to a hospital then turned out on the street. No luggage. No reservations that she knows of. No friends or family. She has a phone, but doesn’t remember its security code. And, someone is trying to kill her.

The scenes with Nalani, her mother, and her Uncle Solomon, expert in the ways of nature, contrast starkly with Dalton’s artificial world. The Hawaiians are happy with their meager parcel, while Dalton’s multimillion dollar estate fills him with anxiety.

It takes a while for the characters’ roles in the story to shape up, and Teschner uses short chapters to bounce you from one intriguing plot point to another. The pace gradually picks up steam, acquiring such strong narrative power that the last day’s events rush forward like the storm itself.

All these characters are well realized, and I especially liked Janice Diaz, the homeless woman who helps her, Nalani, and the realtor struggling to finalize the transfer of Nalani’s family’s property. Naturally, it’s harder to warm to Dalton, with his narcissism and conviction he can control the universe, but that portrayal is effectively drawn too. Teschner uses a fair amount of the Hawaiian language—both by the Hawaiians and the whites who want to show how with-it they are—but it isn’t hard to follow. Context usually takes care of it, and he provides a handy glossary, just in case. It’s an exciting and atmospheric read. Loved it!

Dead Drop

James L’Etoile’s award-winning crime thriller Dead Drop takes a 360-degree look at the intertwined issues of illegal immigration, drug and arms smuggling, and unfettered violence plaguing the southwest United States and the challenges they present law enforcement. After a career spent in the California penal system, L’Etoile has seen these problems play out first-hand. In this action-packed story, you do too.

When it comes to the illegal border crossers, Phoenix, Arizona, detective Nathan Parker tries vainly to hold on to the principle, “Yes, they’re desperate, but what they’re doing is against the law.” But when he’s faced with some of the realities the immigrants confront—and, ultimately, when he becomes an illegal border crosser himself—he starts not just to see, but to appreciate the other side of the story.

In this novel, the immigration issue has many troubling dimensions—fentanyl trafficking, rapacious coyotes, weapons galore, disregard for human life, and the spotty coordination of federal, state, and local efforts to combat any of these. The quest for personal and organizational glory makes inter-agency cooperation more difficult, as always.

While the U.S. Attorney is working to create an airtight case against the drug smugglers—a process that’s taking literally years—people are dying in real time. One of them was Parker’s long-time partner, a death for which Parker blames himself. A new lead appears when a cell phone number is found on a dead man. He’s one of four found in the desert, sealed up in 55 gallon oil drums. Parker’s encounter with the owner of that cell phone leads to his suspension from the force.

The barrels were discovered by Billie Carson, a woman living on the raggedy margins of society, scavenging whatever she can find abandoned in the desolate landscape. Billie has learned how to navigate a dysfunctional support system and, contrary to his expectations, Parker learns a lot from her. Suspended, he isn’t supposed to keep investigating any link to his partner’s shooting, but (of course) he does, and Billie and he may be at risk because of their connection with the bodies in the barrels.

Given all the players—criminals, law enforcement, bystanders, innocent or not—it’s a complicated plot with a lot of characters and a lot of agendas, much like real life, probably. L’Etoile writes convincingly about his law enforcement characters, and some have managed to maintain a sense of humor. Billie’s a solid female character, but several of the other women are less believable.

The way L’Etoile describes the unforgiving desert environment of northern Mexico and south Arizona, for many people and even for a time for Parker, it’s almost as much an enemy as the gun-toting coyotes smuggling people through the tunnels under the “impenetrable” U.S. border wall.

It’s a memorable story, and if you want to read more about this troubled area, I recommend Don Winslow’s The Cartel and Down by the River, riveting nonfiction by the late investigative reporter Charles Bowden.

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Dead Drop
The Cartel
Down by the River

drugs, El Paso, Rio Grande, narcotraficantes, DEA, Border Patrol, Mexico, Texas
U.S. Border Patrol agents on the Rio Grande (photo: c1.staticflickr)

A Twisted Love Story

If only the main characters of Samantha Downing’s new psychological suspense thriller, A Twisted Love Story, would tell the truth once in a while, a lot of their problems would be solved and maybe even avoided. Wes Harmon and Ivy Banks have been an on-again, off-again couple for almost a decade—ever since college—and their breakups are every bit as passionate as their reunions. But if they each harbor secrets, they also share a growing list of them. And those shared secrets put them on a slippery path leading straight to prison.

Early on, Wes meets the couple’s main antagonist, Karen Colglazier. She’s a detective with the Sex Crimes Unit of Fair Valley, California, the featureless mid-sized town where Wes and Ivy live. It seems Ivy has accused him of stalking her and described to Colglazier the ominous notes, presents—including a box of half-eaten chocolates—and pictures, she’s been receiving. Nothing against the law, technically. Not so far, but Colglazier believes a visit from the police often puts a stop to such low-level harassment. Wes denies doing any of it, but then he would, wouldn’t he?

Ivy, fierce and funny, has perhaps the weakest impulse control you’ll ever encounter in fiction, and Wes believes that reporting the alleged stalking was her way of getting his attention. In the past, she’s used some dramatic, even damaging, ways to do that. He’s obviously on Ivy’s mind because when he shows up at her apartment the night of Colglazier’s visit, she gives every indication she was expecting him. The relationship, heavily burdened with the baggage of past mistakes, is on again.

Detective Colglazier is far from convinced by Ivy’s new forgiving attitude toward Wes. She believes Ivy’s denials are further evidence of how afraid and beaten down she is. Her prominent blind spot may be in the wrong place in this instance, but her instinct that more is going on here than meets the eye is correct. Wes and Ivy may seem doomed to keep reenacting their breakups and reconciliations, but it’s Colglazier’s doggedness that creates the book’s tension. Can they ever be free of their past mistakes without being free of each other? If you like thrillers involving dangerous secrets and struggling relationships, this may be a good book for you.

Samantha Downing, born in California, has made a specialty of psychological suspense since her successful 2019 debut novel, My Lovely Wife.

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Come with Me by Erin Flanagan

In the new psychological thriller Come with Me by Erin Flanagan (cover pictured), a woman, put simply, is forced to grow up. She hasn’t realized she needed to until circumstances make her come to terms with her responsibilities. Taking charge of your own life, when you’re accustomed to letting others make the important decisions for you, isn’t easy. In her case, not doing it might prove deadly.

Gwen thinks she has what she’s always wanted, a devoted husband, a lovely daughter, a nice life in Boulder, Colorado. The tiny cracks are only at the edges, and at least she’s far from the confines of Dayton, Ohio, where she grew up.

Once, just out of college she did briefly strike out on her own with a four-month internship at a Dayton media company. While the other two interns paired up as leader and acolyte, Gwen stayed outside their circle, preoccupied with her upcoming wedding.

Ten years later, but early in the story, her husband Todd has a fatal heart attack, leaving Gwen bereft. His death isn’t the only blow. Solely in charge of their finances, Todd has sunk all the couple’s money into his start-up business and run up huge debts. Gwen now has no husband, no money, no house, and no job experience. She’s forced to move back to Dayton into the home of her increasingly debilitated, prickly mother.

One lucky thing, though. Online research reveals her fellow intern from a decade earlier, Nicola, the leader in their little trio, is still at the company, and, better yet, is still a leader. She’s moved up smartly in the organization. When Gwen calls her to explain her plight, Nicola starts throwing out lifelines.

If you have ever had a manipulative friend, if you’ve learned the hard way that favors often come with strings attached, and if you recognize the signs someone is seeking power and control, you will wish fervently that Gwen were more aware. But even she has limits and a mother’s instincts for danger. Watching her complete trust in Nicola crumble ever so gradually is one of the chief pleasures of this story. And, while we might wish it would happen sooner, that’s not who Gwen is.

The story is focused pretty tightly on a small cast of women: Gwen, her daughter, her mother, and, of course Nicola. In a few interspersed chapters, Nicola’s own difficult upbringing. By the time of the internship, Nicola has developed five rules for living and Gwen knows them well: Don’t let anyone make you feel small; know your friends (that’s a biggie for Gwen); trust your instincts (ditto); never look back; and truth, not facts.

Author Erin Flanagan lives in Dayton, Ohio, and writes about life in the town with great authenticity. She is also a professor of English at Wright State University in Dayton and won an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for her debut novel, Deer Season, which I thought was wonderful—complex, well imagined, indelible characters.

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