PanThe Washington PostWho doesn’t enjoy a good sendup of the very people who addicted us to the Internet and all of its devices? Yet Handler seems devoted to making readers put his book down. Scenes and moments feel mashed together and all too often I found myself pausing, rereading pages or paragraphs, confused about how we jumped so instantaneously from one place or person to the next. His narrator, who shapeshifts from omniscient outsider to quasi-first-person raconteur, only made my disorientation worse ... Handler tries to be witty, but fails repeatedly. So many times, Handler writes sentences or pairs of sentences that re-use the same word in an attempt at cleverness ... Handler tries to grapple with some big ideas...But he keeps stymieing momentum, especially with his treatment of sensitive issues ... In the end, I had little hold to on to. The characters were neither sympathetic nor evil enough to make their downfall worthwhile. The plot seemed wafer-thin, and I never felt like the narrator could fully make me believe in the fantasy about a fox’s spirit possessing Reynard.
PositiveThe Washington Post...the plot is not actually the most interesting part of Lanny. It’s the book’s structure, which is constantly switching perspectives ... The back-to-back narrations — without heavy exposition from the author — quickly steep us in the interiors of the characters. They also equip us with a wider lens through which to absorb and assess the book’s plot and everyone’s emotions and motivations ... Porter’s framework has enabled him to write a book that is part poetry and part prose, where each main character feels like a member of a chorus delivering a soliloquy, some humorous, many others pained.
PositiveThe Washington Post\"If you’re pro-Israel, Friedman’s book offers a cast of humble, hardworking and brave characters who overcame prejudices in their old and new homelands for the greater cause of Judaism. But if you think of Israel less as a victim and more of a victimizer, then Friedman’s book might feel like hagiography, yet another work that idealizes the history of the Israeli military and intelligence apparatus ... admirably, Friedman seems to be telling this story for larger purposes. He wants to shine a light on a band of Arab-born operatives often overlooked in the stories of Israel’s founding as a Holocaust refuge led by Europeans in the Zionist movement ... The book is most engaging when Friedman sticks with one character, in one timeline and in one scene. But often, “Spies of No Country” veers from one timeline to the next and from one spy to the next, and it’s hard to keep track of who’s doing what and when, especially because each of the four spies has aliases that Friedman also uses ... Despite those obstacles, Friedman’s book was still illuminating.\
PositiveThe Washington PostLa Rochefoucauld earned a biographer worthy of his improbable life. Even though we know from the book’s prologue that the French aristocrat winds up living a long life, Kix builds narrative tension with masterfully detailed scenes and cliffhanger endings for each chapter … His distancing is admirable, but I kept longing for unintrusive paragraphs and sentences that would have shed light on his mission to excavate and make sense of his discoveries or dead-ends … The Saboteur is completely engrossing and elegantly told, which means any reader of this work will inevitably want more and more.
RaveThe Washington PostHis male characters mess up, in small and spectacular fashion, but their misdeeds often prompt our sympathy, thanks to Ferris’s insightful narration. What’s even more delightful is that his stories show men behaving badly in the most ordinary settings ... Ferris elegantly plumbs the comically misguided mind-set of this narcissist, who, at the very least, is aware of his narcissism and, therefore comes off as more decent than he otherwise should.
Joe McGinniss, Jr.
MixedThe Washington PostMcGinniss spins an edgy tale, often laced with a reporter’s eye for the little details that make characters pop and convey a sarcastic take on what a certain slice of people need nowadays to feel uplifted ... McGinniss Jr.’s story usually goes fast, but the momentum sometimes stalls because the book is carved up into so many chapters — 97, in fact. A more significant problem is the dialogue, which can be cheesy.
RaveThe Washington PostThe genius of Smith’s book is not just the caper plot but also the interweaving of three alternating timelines and locations to tell a wider, suspenseful story of one painting’s rippling impact on three people over multiple centuries and locations...Smith clearly immersed himself in the world of Dutch masters and the subculture of forgers, too. His descriptions are beautifully precise and reveal the vast research required to write so originally in the well-trodden genre of art mystery.