22 Booklist February 1, 2016 www.booklistreader.com
sion that is as emotionally raw as it is artfully
crafted. —Brendan Driscoll
Tuesday Nights in 1980.
By Molly Prentiss.
Apr. 2016. 320p. Simon & Schuster/Scout, $26
Prentiss’ debut novel captures the eruption
of creativity and commodification precipitated by New York City’s 1970s crash into
fiscal and criminal chaos. Painter Raul appears
within this maelstrom after
fleeing Buenos Aires before
the onset of the Dirty War.
He vamps his way into free
studio space and, with the
gruff mentorship of a veteran
artist named Arlene, rapidly
ascends toward the blazing
beacon of fame. Art critic
James makes a splash as he draws on the strange
revelations of his synesthesia, which jumbles his
senses and intensifies the force fields of the art
he scrutinizes. Lucy is a lovely innocent from
Idaho who stumbles her way into the molten heart of the art scene, at once foolish and
brave. An agile, imaginative, knowledgeable,
and seductive writer, Prentiss combines exquisite sensitivity with unabashed melodrama to
create an operatic tale of ambition and delusion, success and loss, mystery and crassness.
Though some characters are predictable, most,
especially James and his wife, are fresh, funny,
ardent, and magnetizing. Prentiss’ insights into
this brash art world are sharply particularized
and shrewd, but she also tenderly illuminates
universal sorrows, “beautiful horrors,” and lush
moments of bliss. In all, a vital, sensuous, edgy,
and suspenseful tale of longing, rage, fear, compulsion, and love. —Donna Seaman
The Two of Us.
By Andy Jones.
Feb. 2016. 324p. Washington Square, paper, $16
(9781501109515); e-book (9781501109522).
William Fisher has known Ivy Lee for 19
days, but he knows that she is “the One.” Never
mind that they barely know each other—they
know each other. Then Fisher discovers that Ivy
is actually nine years older than he, but he deals.
Then he finds out she’s pregnant. With twins.
Still convinced that they are meant to be together, they move into Ivy’s apartment and prepare
for the babies. Then Ivy’s brother, Frank, moves
into the spare bedroom, escaping marital difficulties. Then Fisher’s best friend’s Huntington’s
disease gets exponentially worse. Professionally frustrated directing commercials for diapers
and tampons, Fisher seizes the chance to direct
a short film written by an attractive young colleague. Despite all of the external hurdles, the
biggest roadblock to Fisher’s happiness is his
own head, and readers may want to throttle
him. But who among us hasn’t been young-ish
and stupid in love? Fans of British chick lit will
love watching Fisher figure it out, especially after a final, tragic twist. —Susan Maguire
Why We Came to the City.
By Kristopher Jansma.
Feb. 2016. 432p. Viking, $27 (9780525426608).
After his acclaimed, whimsical, globetrotting first novel, The Unchangeable Spots of
Leopards (2013), Jansma settles into more
conventional fare as he follows a tightly
knit group of friends—aspiring artist Irene,
one-time poet Jacob, and the newly engaged
George and Sara—around New York. The
tale begins in 2008, during the first days of
the Great Recession, which comes to define
this generation of struggling twentysome-things. At a penthouse party in Manhattan,
Irene reunites with William, a Wall Street
financier and former college peer. An unexpected romance ensues, but Irene soon
develops medical troubles. Never truly resolving his abandonment of the artist’s life,
Jacob wrestles with the legacy of an epic
poem he composed years ago. Astronomer
George learns that the star around which
he’s been building a career is on the verge of
collapse. In fact, it imploded thousands of
years ago, and all George can do is observe
the fallout and await the repercussions—a
perfect metaphor for the ruinous economic
backdrop against which the circle of friends
strives to find happiness. —Diego Báez
The Advocate’s Daughter.
By Anthony Franze.
Mar. 2016. 320p. Minotaur/Thomas Dunne, $25.99
(9781250071651); e-book, $12.99 (9781466882836).
It can’t be a coincidence that Sean Serrat’s
daughter is murdered just as he makes the
short-list to replace a retiring Supreme Court
justice. A law-school research assistant, Abby
had turned up long-buried information about
all of the candidates, including her father.
Shortly after finding Abby’s body shoved in
the stacks of the Supreme Court library, police arrest her African American boyfriend, a
law clerk for the Court. Worrying that arresting the wrong man could leave his family in
danger from the real killer, Serrat looks more
closely at his daughter’s last days and learns
she may have been having an affair with a
highly placed Washingtonian. He also discovers that his teenage son was in trouble
with a drug dealer and could face serious
consequences. Franze (The Last Justice, 2012)
doesn’t minimize the impact of a child’s death
on the whole family, dramatizing grief, anger,
and a fierce protective instinct. This fast-paced
thriller will appeal to fans of Brad Meltzer, Joseph Finder, and Scott Turow. —Karen Keefe
By Claudia Piñeiro. Tr. by Miranda France.
Feb. 2016. 410p. Bitter Lemon, paper, $14.95
(9781908524553); e-book (9781908524569).
Mystery writer Nurit Iscar hasn’t fully re-
covered from the bad reviews of the love story
she wrote while in the throes of an affair with
newspaper editor Lorenzo Renaldi. It’s only
the promise of a much-needed paycheck that
makes her agree to write a series of articles
about the murder of a wealthy businessman
in one of Buenos Aires’ prestigious gated com-
munities. With veteran journalist Jaime Brena
and the newspaper’s young crime editor, Nurit
traces the connection between the victim and
several of his schoolmates, who have all died
recently, supposedly accidentally. Piñeiro (A
Crack in the Wall, 2013) writes page-long para-
graphs with shifting points of view, sliding
from one character to another to show what
each is doing at the same point in time. The
characters’ response to the mystery’s resolution
is surprising for a psychological suspense novel,
but also very real. This isn’t a good fit for read-
ers demanding fast pacing, but those willing to
take the time to enjoy the style and the unusual
denouement will find themselves wondering
why more crime authors don’t take the kinds of
risks Piñeiro does. —Karen Keefe
By Janice Cantore.
Mar. 2016. 400p. Tyndale, paper, $14.99 (9781414396699).
The second novel in retired police-officer
Cantore’s sharp Cold Case Justice series, after
Drawing Fire (2015), finds homicide detective Abby Morgan wondering about her career
choice after being forced to kill a victim’s father when he pulls a gun. The tragedy also
raises doubts about her engagement as she
faces her growing feelings toward PI Luke
Murphy. Luke and his partner (Abby’s former
colleague Woody) discover a clue to the case
involving Abby’s parents and Luke’s uncle. At
first, they keep it from her as she deals with the
consequences of her shooting, but a startling
development jolts them into working together
to discover the whole truth, even as others try
to stop them. The trio also works on an old abduction case. When Abby successfully gets the
victim to talk, the lead triggers an investigation
into a serial killer, which, in turn, involves the
people who are after Abby and Luke. Questions of faith shape the well-woven details, the
taut action scenes, and the complex characters
in Cantore’s riveting mystery. —Amy Alessio
By Peter Steiner.
Feb. 2016. 304p. St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne, $24.99
(9781250065032); e-book, $11.99 (9781466871549).
The latest Louis Morgon thriller finds the
retired CIA agent drawing on his old but in
no way rusty skills to track down and bring to
justice a Wall Street scammer (a fictionalized
version of Bernie Madoff). The story is intricate and convoluted, the pacing is splendid,
and the characters are richly detailed. Morgon
isn’t your typical action hero—he’s in his sev-enties, an art lover and gourmand, living in
a small French village—but Steiner doesn’t
write your typical action thrillers, either. The
story evolves over the course of several years
(beginning in late 2008), and, structurally, it’s
composed mainly of dialogue—light on car
chases and gun battles. Evoking the work of
the late, great George V. Higgins, the Morgon
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