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Monday, October 31, 2016

Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt

Reprinted from auburnpub.com 

Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt
Published by Algonquin Books ISBN 1616203633
Hardcover, $26.95, 369 pages

Author Caroline Leavitt took an event that happened to a high school classmate of hers as a jumping-off point for her incredibly riveting novel “Cruel Beautiful World”. Charlotte and Lucy were just young girls when their parents died tragically and they went to live with a distant older relative Iris.

In reality Iris is their much older half-sister, a fact Iris conceals from the girls. Iris never had children of her own and she grew to love the girls. Set in the late 1960’s, during the time of great social and political upheaval, Leavitt drops the reader into the time of hippies and free love and the frightening Manson murders that gripped the nation.

When Lucy is sixteen, she falls in love with William, the cool teacher at her school. She runs away with William to a dilapidated old farmhouse, where William gets a job teaching at a school that basically has no rules, while Lucy stays hidden at the farmhouse, all alone except for the chickens.

Lucy’s disappearance devastates Iris and Charlotte, who is ready to go off to college. Iris fears that something terrible has happened to Lucy, and the police are of no help as they tell her that so many teenager girls are running off nowadays and that she will probably return.

Charlotte goes off to college, which is much more difficult than she thought. She excelled in high school, but at college, the classes are much harder and she spends all her time studying. She has no real friends and travels home frequently to check on Iris.

Iris is getting on in age and eventually she must face the fact that for her own safety, she has to move out of her home and into an assisted living facility. Leavitt does a beautiful job with the character of Iris, and some of the most compelling parts of the story belong to her.

We see her as a young woman during WWII, who falls in love and marries the man of her dreams, a young soldier. She believes she will finally have the simple, happy life she longs for, but a secret builds a wall between her and her husband.

When Iris is in the assisted living facility, she is unhappy. She mourns the loss of her freedom to choose when to eat and what to eat, and the ability to go where she wants, when she wants. 

Lucy’s life is not turning out the way she had hoped either. William has isolated her, and she isn’t even allowed to let her aunt and sister know that she is alive for fear that William will be arrested.

What Lucy believed to be a romantic life ahead turns into a nightmare. William is gone all day at work, and when he comes home he is unhappy because his teaching job is not what he thought it would be. She is expected to cook dinner, but William insists on a very specific all-natural diet and Lucy doesn’t know how to cook.

One day Lucy takes a walk and ends up at a farm stand. There are lots of people there and she befriends the owner, Patrick, who gives Lucy a job. Lucy is overjoyed at having someplace to go and something to do.

Patrick is kind to her, and he is interested in what she thinks, something William is not. Patrick is hiding out from his past too, a tragic loss that he has not yet overcome. 

Halfway through the book something happens that changes the lives of all the characters. It is a real blow to the reader as well as to all of the characters, something that made me literally gasp out loud.

By that point we are so invested in these characters and their stories, we feel like we know them as real people. Leavitt has written terrific books, “Pictures of You” and “Is This Tomorrow” among them, but “Cruel Beautiful World” is her best book yet. She has taken her writing to an entirely new level, and she has garnered so much deserved praise for this one.
“Cruel Beautiful World” is the simply the best novel I have read in a long time, and if you enjoy a story that you can lost in, this is the one for you. The characters are simply unforgettable and I give it my highest recommendation.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

New in Paperback- The Forgotten Room

The Forgotten Room by Karen White, Beatriz Williams and Lauren Willig
Published by Berkley ISBN 9780451474636
Hardcover, $16, 384 pages
Reprinted from the Citizen:
Writers Karen White (“The Sound of Glass”), Lauren Willig (The “Pink Carnation” series of historical fiction) and Beatriz Williams (“Along the Infinite Sea”) are all successful romance novelists on their own. Recently, they teamed up to write a book together, “The Forgotten Room,” in which the authors each take a different time setting then connect their stories together.
It begins in 1944, where young Dr. Kate Schuyler races to an incoming ambulance to find a seriously injured soldier. Capt. Ravanel was injured in Europe in the war and placed on a boat to set sail for New York City to a hospital there for better care.
The hospital on East 69th Street that Dr. Schuyler works in used to be a family’s mansion during the Gilded Age, when money flowed freely until the Great Depression hit, and the family’s mansion was sold and eventually became a hospital.
Capt. Ravenel is delirious with fever, calling Dr. Schuyler by the name Victorine, and recognizes the ruby necklace that Kate wears around her neck. Kate doesn’t know Capt. Ravenel, although his last name sounds familiar.
In 1892, we meet young Olive Van Alan, who works as a maid in the mansion on East 69th Street for the wealthy Pratt family. While it appears that Olive is just another poor young working class woman, she has ulterior motives.
Olive’s father was the architect who built the Pratt mansion. It was his masterpiece, a showcase that he hoped would make his career and get him many more jobs. But Mr. Pratt was a dishonest man, and he refused to pay Olive’s father for his work, bankrupting him and resulting in her father’s death.
Olive was determined to find vindication for her father in Pratt’s paperwork. She would find proof that her father’s work was not unacceptable and poor, as Pratt claimed. She would get justice for her father.
But Olive didn’t count on falling in love with Pratt’s artistic son Harry. Olive was warned to stay away from the young master of the house, that it would only mean trouble for everyone, but Harry became infatuated with Olive, and a torrid affair began.
In 1920, Lucy Young takes a room in the attic of a mansion on East 69th Street, the former Pratt Mansion. She secures a job at the firm that handles the affairs of the Pratt family. The junior partner in charge of the Pratt account is the stepson of Prunella Pratt, the last remaining member of the famous Pratts, and sister of Harry.
Before long, Lucy is now working closely with Phillip Schuyler, Prunella’s stepson. Lucy can’t believe her luck. She got the job at the firm hoping to get an answer to a very important question: Could Lucy be the illegitimate daughter of Harry Pratt?
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Harry Pratt disappeared a long time ago, and his family had no idea where he went or if he was still alive. Lucy hopes that if she can find Harry Pratt, she can find the answer to her real heritage.
Lucy becomes Phillip Schuyler’s valued assistant, and when he asks her to entertain a client, a Mr. Ravenel from Charleston, we have a connection that will be repeated in 1944, in the Pratt mansion that is now a hospital.
White, Williams and Willig do a masterful job creating three distinct worlds that intersect in the end. Each takes a storyline, and immerses the reader in their time period. We can feel the distinct delineation between the classes in Olive’s story, as the opulence of the Pratt family contrasts with Olive and her widowed mother, who tries to marry Olive off to the nice bakery owner.
Lucy Young is a career woman living in a room in a woman’s boarding house in 1920 under the watchful eye of a woman who deems it her goal in life to keep her boarders' virtue intact. Lucy came from a family who owned a small shop, but she uses her education to make a better life for herself.
And then we get to Dr. Kate Schuyler, a doctor in 1944, an unusual occupation for a woman at that time. Kate has to put up with the sexual harassment of her boss, and back then the only method to handle that was to avoid the man at all costs.
The way the authors seamlessly weave their stories together is beautifully done, and when the resolution to the story comes, it is a satisfying conclusion. “The Forgotten Room” is the perfect book to curl up with on a snowy day and lose yourself in a wonderful story.
Grade- A-

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Weekend Cooking- Napa Valley Trip- Part II- The Wineries

This post is part of Beth Fish Reads' Weekend Cooking.  If you have anything related to food, cookbook reviews, novel or non-fiction book reviews, recipes, movie reviews, etc., head over to Beth Fish Reads and add your post. Or, if you want to read food related posts, head over to read what some interesting people have to say about food.

Last week, I wrote about the food we had on our trip to Napa. This week, I cover the wineries.

The first one we visited was Frog's Leap Winery, where I took my favorite photo of the entire trip.

The view at Frog's Leap Winery
We took a tour of Frog's Leap, where we discovered that the founder and owner John Williams graduated from Cornell and interned at Taylor Winery, and opened Glenora Winery in the Finger Lakes region where we used to live, so that was pretty cool. Our tour guide Evan was knowledgable and friendly, and we enjoyed all of the wines we tasted there. I like white wine, so I was very happy here. My husband likes red better.

The vineyards
The grapes are collected in wheeled bins

They get dumped into this container

and they go up the conveyor 
Then we saw the huge barrels the wines are aged in.
The wine barrels
Our next winery was Sterling Vineyards, where we took a tram up the mountain for a self-guided tour.
The view from the tram
The views were stunning, and at Sterling you followed a path to different stations where you again tasted more wine. We liked the tour better at Frog's Leap as it was more interactive and informative.

One of my husband's friends and his wife met us at Del Dotto for a tour of their wine caves. Del Dotto looks like an Italian castle inside, and the caves were very cool. We had a VIP tour, and actually tasted wine directly from the casks where the wine was aging. You could order wine from the very barrel you tasted from; the wine would be delivered in a few months or even years, depending on how long that particular wine needed to age.
Del Dotto cave

Del Dotto was pretty spectacular, and our tour guide really knew his stuff, as did my husband's friends. They have been coming to Del Dotto for years, and have many bottles of their wine, so they gave us the scoop on what to buy. Our wine is scheduled to arrive soon, and we can't wait to invite our sons and their girlfriends over for a wine tasting party.
In front of Del Dotto
We visited a few more wineries, and after two days of that, we decided that next time we did this, we'd probably stick to just one or maybe two wineries per day and then a little sightseeing before dinner. One of our friends told us that after visiting wine country, we wouldn't want to drink wine for awhile and she was right. I needed a little break, but by the time our Del Dotto wine arrived, I'll be ready!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Three Books by Funny Ladies

I really enjoy a funny book, and recently I read three books by funny ladies that made me laugh out loud. And with the election madness that seems to be pervading the news, now is the time to laugh.

Laurie Notaro is new to me, and she writes both fiction and non-fiction. Her latest non-fiction book is Housebroken, and after reading this gut-busting book, I immediately went to find any of her fiction at the used book shop where I volunteer.  (I scored with there's a (slight chance I may be going to hell.) 

Notaro recounts her many failings in the housekeeping and parenting department, and I loved her way with words in describing the feelings most of us have about being less-than in the days when we are bombarded with HGTV shows about uber-couples who remodel other people's homes and the perfect recipes people are creating in Facebook videos.

Notaro was unfriended by her father on Facebook, had no shelves in her refrigerator when her boyfriend (now husband) came to visit and brought beer (she told him to pile it on top of everything else), and her take on the famous book about tidying up your life by getting rid of all the things that don't bring you joy had me in stitches. If you are not a Martha Stewart acolyte, Housebroken is for you. Fans of Jen Lancaster will enjoy this one.

Jill Kargman's situation comedy Odd Mom Out on Bravo is one of my new guilty pleasures. She plays a version of herself- wife, mother, trying to build a career as a photographer on the Upper East Side in New York City, an off-kilter brunette in a world of cookie-cutter blonde perfect mommies- that is hilarious. If you have not watched the show, do yourself a favor and find it on demand.

Kargman's new book is Sprinkle Glitter On My Grave, a funny collection of essays that builds on her TV show. Since I live in her neighborhood, I related to many of her observations. She writes about a man who was panhandling outside a local popular restaurant. She usually gave him a few dollars, but this time offered to buy him lunch at the diner. He agreed and gave her a very particular, well-thought out order for a smoked, not roasted, turkey sandwich with Russian dressing on the side and a complete listing of additional fixings.

Kargman makes lists of things that bug her, like dog strollers (a big thing in NYC), fur vests, and going over the Visa bill with her husband. You don't have to live in NYC to enjoy Kargman's biting humor, but if you do you will enjoy Sprinkle Glitter On My Grave on another level. I almost fell off the treadmill laughing at some of her stuff, so be careful when reading.

Jen Kirkman is a standup comedian, best known to TV viewers from her many appearances on Chelsea Handler's Comedy Central talk show. Her latest book I Know What I'm Doing- And Other Lies I Tell Myself is a memoir about getting married, getting divorced a year later, turning forty, and life as a comedian.

I expected the book to be funny, which it is, but is also very moving. Kirkman writes very honestly about divorcing her husband after a brief marriage, and how hard it was to admit that she had made a mistake.

She writes about dating and life on the road as a comedian, but my favorite part of the book is where she decides to travel abroad by herself. She describes getting up the courage to eat alone in a restaurant and a horrible Twitter debacle she had while overseas that could have ended her career.

Kirkman is a terrific writer, and her tribute to the late Joan Rivers and how Joan inspired her is wonderful. She recalled passing Joan Rivers on the street when she was struggling to make it and then years later getting to have lunch together and what that meant to her.

I Know What I'm Doing- And Other Things I Tell Myself reminded me of comedian Todd Glass's memoir The Todd Glass Situation, in that both books are honestly written and very moving accounts of their lives as comedians and human beings on this planet.

All three books contain lots of profanity, so if that is not your thing, you have been warned.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Weekend Cooking- A Napa Trip- Part 1- The Food

This post is part of Beth Fish Reads' Weekend Cooking.  If you have anything related to food, cookbook reviews, novel or non-fiction book reviews, recipes, movie reviews, etc., head over to Beth Fish Reads and add your post. Or, if you want to read food related posts, head over to read what some interesting people have to say about food.

My husband and I made our first visit to Napa Valley wine country last month, and it was a wonderful time. On our first night, we walked from our hotel to the downtown area, stopping at a local bookstore Napa Bookmine first. (Where else would I go?)

Oenotri dessert
We asked the young woman working there for a restaurant suggestion, and she recommended an Italian restaurant, Oenotri, nearby. The place was lovely, with a bar tucked into the corner and wooden tables between the bar and the open kitchen. Scott had a Bistecca Alla Pizzaiola that he raved about, and I thoroughly enjoyed my pasta dish. My favorite though was the cannoli dessert with fig and pistachio- so tasty! It was our favorite dinner of the trip.

The next morning we looked for some breakfast before we started out on our winery tours, and a woman at the Oxbow Market told us about Model Bakery. They are famous for their homemade English muffins, which are a cross between an English muffin and a doughnut. We ordered their egg sandwich on the muffin and it was terrific. We went back again the next morning for pastries and muffins and everything there
was great.
The English muffins are in the center top

Model Bakery's cinnamon rolls

We had a lunch lined up at The Farmstead at Longmeadow Ranch. The Chef's Table was a special lunch for six people, a true farm-to-table meal. While we toured the farm, we saw a cook picking herbs from the garden for our lunch.

The company was fantastic, a younger couple celebrating her graduation from medical school and the other couple was our age, celebrating his birthday. We all had a blast and laughed and drank wine and talked for over two hours.

The food was wonderful too- a melon and tomato salad, grass-fed beef tenderloin and a strawberry and merlot sorbet over a financier.
Melon and Tomato Salad

Beef Tenderloin

Strawberry Merlot Sorbet over Fanancier

By the time dinner rolled around, we had had a lot of wine and food and so we decided to forego our dinner reservation at Cole's Chop House and we hailed an Uber to go eat at In-N-Out Burger. The Uber driver thought we were a little crazy, but we enjoyed our cheeseburger, fries and shared milkshake for dessert.

Our last evening in Napa we had reservations for Bottega, chef Michael Chiarello's upscale Southern Italian restaurant in Yountville. Maybe it was because we had just had too much wine or were too tired, but neither of us enjoyed Bottega.

The decor struck me as too industrial, and the service was rushed. (We were in and out in 45 minutes.) My husband had the meatball appetizer and one of his meatballs was nearly raw. He told the waiter, who took the meatball away and came back after conferring with the kitchen. He told us that the meatballs were meant to be served "medium rare" which is odd enough, but doesn't explain why two of the three were cooked and one wasn't. They did offer to take the item off the bill.

We both found our entrees to be lacking, and it didn't compare to our first evening's enjoyable Southern Italian meal at Oenotri. We skipped dessert and headed back to the hotel. I can't recommend Bottega.

We wanted a hearty breakfast on our last morning, so I found a diner- Jax White Mule Diner located in downtown Napa. We split an order of beignets, which were so sinfully delicious and my husband had the short rib hash, which was fantastic. I even watched the cook shredding the short rib to put in the dish. I highly recommend Jax White Mule Diner if you ever visit Napa.

Short Rib Hash

Next week's post will cover the wineries we visited. Have any of you ever visited Napa or Sonoma?

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Weekend Cooking- Two Weeknight Recipes

This post is part of Beth Fish Reads' Weekend Cooking.  If you have anything related to food, cookbook reviews, novel or non-fiction book reviews, recipes, movie reviews, etc., head over to Beth Fish Reads and add your post. Or, if you want to read food related posts, head over to read what some interesting people have to say about food.

It's always a chore to find recipes that I can make on weeknights when I work. This week I made a quick 20 minute lamb chop dinner and a slow cooker beef stroganoff. Two different methods that resulted in two terrific meals.

One of the perks of working at the Book Cellar is that I stock the $1 non-fiction shelf and when the cookbooks get moved there, I often find an interesting new one. (And I mean, how can you go wrong for a $1? You can't even buy a candy bar for a $1 anymore.)

I picked up Cooking Light Fresh Food Fast Weeknight Meals which promises 5 ingredient, 15 minute recipes, perfect for whipping up on a weeknight after work.  The first recipe I made was Lamb Chops with Minted Yogurt Sauce. It was so easy and delicious! I don't make lamb too often, so this was a real treat. I will be making this again very soon.

They paired the chops with a Couscous Salad and since I had a box of Near East Roasted Garlic and Olive Oil Couscous in the pantry, I just cooked the couscous according to the directions on the box and added 3/4 cup chopped plum tomatoes, 1/3 cup minced fresh mint,  2 Tbsp. lemon juice and 1 Tbsp. olive oil like the recipe called for. I don't use mint too often, but it really brightened up the couscous and didn't overpower it at all.

Lamb Chops with Minted Yogurt Sauce
1/2 cup plain fat-free yogurt
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp. salt, divided
1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper, divided
8 (4-oz) lamb loin chops, trimmed
Cooking spray

Prepare grill. Combine yogurt and next three ingredients. Stir in 1/8 tsp. salt and 1/8 tsp. pepper. Chill.
Sprinkle lamb evenly with remaining 3/8 tsp. each salt and pepper. Place lamb on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Serve with yogurt sauce and couscous.
Lamb Chops with Minted Yogurt Sauce- photo from book

On another day I had to work, I pulled out the slow cooker and made a new recipe I found on Pinterest- No-Canned Soup Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff. I don't like using canned soup in recipes, so this one appealed to me. I had most of the ingredients, I just needed to get the stew beef. The recipe came from Going Reno, and it can be found here.

My slow cooker has a saute feature, so I browned the stew beef, took that out of the cooker, then added thinly sliced onion and sliced mushrooms to brown for a few minutes. After adding a few tablespoons of red wine to deglaze the pot, you toss the beef back in with the onions and mushrooms and add a cup of beef broth. I set the timer and went to work.

Six hours later, I returned and mixed together sour cream, dijon mustard, paprika, bits of cream cheese and added that to the slow cooker for another 20 minutes. And while that finished up, I boiled the egg noodles. I did add some corn starch mixed with water to the beef sauce to thicken it up, and that worked just fine.

The stroganoff was fantastic, and the addition of dijon mustard and paprika gave the sauce a nice little kick. This is a perfect fall weather dinner and we had enough left over for the next night, which I may put over polenta or mashed potatoes to change it up.

What are your favorite weeknight recipes? Share them in comments.

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Life She Wants by Robyn Carr

The Life She Wants by Robyn Carr
Published by Mira ISBN978-0-7783-1967-2
Trade paperback, $15.99, 348 pages

My husband and I took a trip to Napa a few weeks ago, so I brought Robyn Carr's newest book, The Life She Wants along for airplane reading because it is set in Sonoma County.

Emma Shay Compton's marriage to big-time financier falls apart when he is convicted of bilking his clients (ala Bernie Madoff) out of their life savings. Emma is devastated by his betrayal, of which she had no idea. But many people and the media believe she is hiding money and so she is a pariah as well.

All she is left with is a few kitchen tools, and she moves back home to Sonoma County. Her father died years ago, and his second wife, who treated Emma badly, wants nothing to do with her. Emma tries to pick up the pieces of her life, starting with finding a place to live and a job.

Her old friend Lyle finds her a small guest cottage behind Penny, an elderly woman, who becomes Emma's friend. Penny's other widowed friends welcome Emma into their circle.

The only job she can get is working as housekeeper in a nursing home. But when her coworkers realize who her husband was, she loses that job.

Emma reconnects with Adam, the brother of her former best friend Riley. Riley and Emma had a big falling out in high school and haven't spoken since then. Adam gets Emma a job with Riley, who has her own successful cleaning company.

The Life She Wants is a wonderful story of female friendship that you don't frequently see. Riley and Emma are very wary of each other, unable to forget the past. I love the character of Riley, how she overcame her life's challenges to build her own successful business. Riley and Adam's mom is a great character too, one who did a terrific job raising her kids, and is a good grandmother.

I admit to tearing up more than a few times reading The Life She Wants. Carr's writing hits your heart, and her characters' grit and grace win you over. There are a few hot sex scenes and you hope that love eventually wins out.

While sitting on the plane, the man next to me said "Is that Robyn Carr's newest book? I've read all of her books- I love her!" I have to admit that one took me by surprise.

I recommend Robyn Carr's The Life She Wants to anyone who loves a good story about female friendship, and if you like Jennifer Weiner's books, give Robyn Carr a try.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Three Twisty Mysteries

Reprinted from auburnpub.com:

Mysteries are among the best-selling fiction books, and there are three recent entries that are not only propelled by great plots, but by outstanding writing and characters as well.

Noah Hawley, best known as the creative genius behind the television series “Fargo”, is also a novelist. A few years ago, he garnered critical acclaim with his mystery “The Good Father”, about a father whose son is accused of a political assassination. 
Before the Fall

His latest novel is “Before The Fall” a propulsive, twisty story about a plane crash. A private jet falls out of the sky, and the only survivors are a 40-something artist looking for his last chance at success and a four-year-old boy, the son of the head of a powerful conservative cable news channel (think Fox News).

Scott used be a swimmer, and he valiantly saves the young boy’s life by hoisting the boy on his back and swimming miles to shore. He is hailed as hero at first, but then the media begins to dig deeper to find out why the plane went down and why Scott and the young boy were the only survivors.

Besides the powerful head of the news channel, his wife and teenage daughter, another couple was on board. That man was facing an imminent indictment for laundering money for banned foreign companies through his U.S. company.  

Was it a bomb on board that killed them? And if so, who was the target? Scott got on the plane at the last minute, was he involved in the plot to blow up the plane?

One of the characters is a popular and confrontational cable news show host, a close friend of the young boy’s father. He believes that Scott knows more than he has let on, and he uses his nightly TV show to destroy Scott’s reputation, taking advantage of the situation for ratings.

“Before the Fall” is a page-turner of a book, and you should leave yourself plenty of time to read this is one or two sittings because you won’t want to put it down. Hawley paints a portrait of our current circus media atmosphere that is not flattering.

Irish writer Tana French’s sixth book in her Dublin Murder Squad series is “The Trespasser”. Each one of her fascinating books tells a story from the perspective of one of the detectives in the squad, concentrating on one case. 

The Trespasser
“The Trespasser” follows female detective Antoinette Conway, a tough and smart cop who we got to know in the last book, “The Secret Place”. She is again partnered with Steve Moran, the newbie in the squad. 

A woman is found dead in her home. It looks like she was waiting for her date to arrive, so suspicion naturally falls on the man, a mild-mannered bookstore owner, who had recently met the dead woman. The veterans on the Irish squad want Conway and Moran to quickly wrap this case up, but they have their doubts about the bookstore owner being the murderer.

Fans of The Dublin Murder Squad will be happy with this addition to the series, but you don’t have to have read any of the previous books to enjoy this intriguing mystery. French has created a fascinating world here, with whip-smart dialogue and a plot that will have you guessing all the way. Fans of TV’s “Prime Suspect” and “NYPD Blue” will enjoy. 

Ben H. Winter’s has written a fantastic alternative history book, “Underground Airlines” that supposes that Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1861, and the Civil War was never fought. Today there are four Southern states where slavery is still in practice, and an uneasiness exists between these states and the rest of the United States. 
Underground Airlines

Victor is a young black man who used to live in one of the slave states. He escaped and is now being forced to work for the U.S. Marshal Service hunting down escaped slaves. He is very conflicted about this, and begins his new assignment when things aren’t what they seem.

He meets a young woman with a young son who is trying to find out what happened to her son’s father, a slave, and Victor gets involved in her situation too.

There is a lot of tension in this book, and Victor is walking a tightrope to help the young woman and figure out why the marshal service really wants to find this one particular fugitive who may not be exactly what he seems. It’s a searing, what-if terrific book, and it deserves to find an audience.