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MEMOIR



With beauty, power and remarkable wit, Mary-Ann Tirone Smith lovingly interweaves a portrait of growing up among the working stiffs of 1950s Hartford, CT, and an autistic brother, diagnosed before autism was identified, with the chilling progress of a serial pedophile threatening to shatter small town innocence.

This is such a multi-dimensional and triumphant book that it’s hard to do it justice. It is an exacting and deadly accurate depiction of less cynical and less compassionate times; it is absorbing and convincing, and it must have taken great courage to write.

—The Globe and Mail (Toronto)



FICTION



A heartbreaking and heartwarming, poignant and hilariously funny acclaimed debut novel of a young Yalie’s sojourn to Paris where she rekindles an old friendship with Marlys, now the Josephine Baker of her time—a star of the Folies Bergere. Marlys will take Phoebe in, help her figure out what to do about her pregnancy, and as well, find a way to understand Phoebe’s desperate struggle to come to grips with a tragic secret from her past which will free her to love—and live—in peace.

This first novel is Phoebe Caulfield’s own coming-of-age story, told in a voice one could easily imagine as the precocious sister of Holden. At least there is something more than faintly reminiscent of Holden's voice, with the achingly sensitive passivity replaced by a confident activism. But there is the old Caulfield impatience with phoniness, which, together with an adolescent awkwardness and gaucheness, provides much of the humor of this very funny book.

Rebecca Goldstein, The New York Times Book Review



In the author’s second novel, she explores uncharted fictional ground, the experience of the Peace Corps where two friends, find themselves in the mountains and rain forests of Cameroon, perhaps a place of perfect hiding for the son of Cameroon’s first colonial German governor, a Nazi who could well have returned to the place of his birth to escape detection after World War II. What Mattie and Jo find leads them to their post-service trek to Beirut and to the Palestinian refugee camps where their lives are unalterably changed.

Good fiction on a serious subject written with a wonderfully funny voice.

New York Newsday



A sixteen-year-old Olympic diver plays pied piper to a parade of outcasts following the 1936 Games in Berlin. Aboard the luxury liner Normandie about to disappear forever in the conflagration of World War II, the young athlete’s mother meets the mysterious Rexhault, who will build her a replica of the Normandie at the port city on a Caribbean island. Like the classic Ship of Fools, The Port of Missing Men is both a refuge and a portent, a last harbor in a world about to go mad. And it bears the stamp of its author: an irreverent, funny and deeply moral tale.

Delightfully unexpected and offbeat. Like the Wild Mouse at an amusement park you never know what twists or turns it will take.

Fannie Flagg, The New York Times Book Review



With novel after novel, Mary-Ann Tirone Smith has proven to be an American writer of great depth and extraordinary talent. Her stories have the stunning clarity of 20/10 vision that sees the inner forces behind human behavior along with the outer events that shape our world. Masters of Illusion: A Novel of the Great Circus Fire is a masterful accomplishment. With a reporter’s eye, Smith recreates an unforgettable tragedy, the Great Circus Fire of 1944, in Hartford, CT, one month before D-Day. With a writer’s vision, she tells a story of two lovers: Margie, the youngest victim of the fire to survive, and Charlie, a fireman whose childhood memories of the disaster steer the course of his life.

The historic fire is the central organizing event of Mary-Ann Tirone Smith's new novel, Masters of Illusion. She presents us with another story of investigation, in which the attempt to get at the truth of what happened that day is paralleled, first metaphorically and then literally, by the attempt to get to the bottom of a family's dysfunction.

Los Angeles Times



As such things are measured in D.C., Denise Burke has everything a woman of wit could want: fabulous house, two hip kids, a marriage constructed to allow leeway with a husband in the center of Bill Clinton’s inner circle and a high-profile lover who happens to be a congressman who dies en flagrante with a D.C. call girl. Denise confides in her best buddy Poppy Rice of the FBI that someone is serious about getting her to mind her business. Serious enough to make her a moving target. Combining edgy suspense, political savvy, unbearable tension, and based on a true story, An American Killing is a smart-ass, fast-paced, tale of murder in the power centers of our nation.

The reader can't help being torn between racing ahead to discover the denouement and slowing down to enjoy the company of a host of superbly drawn characters who find themselves on surprisingly intimate terms with evil. According to Mary-Ann Tirone Smith, most of us are.

The New York Times Book Review


COLLABORATION



Dirty Water lays bare a shocking revelation about major league baseball that manifests itself in deadly greed where money reigns and corrupts, and where innocent bystanders—the 2007 World Champion Red Sox—must rise to the heroics and strength they demonstrate on the playing field.

This gripping novel, Dirty Water, begins inside Fenway Park in the midst of the Red Sox' 2007 championship season. I was instantly hooked. But I can't say I was surprised. As a grateful fan of Jere Smith's rabidly passionate and generous blog, A Red Sox Fan from Pinstripe Territory, which brings readers along for the ride (with copious photos, videos, and pointed descriptions) every one of the many times he goes to cheer his voice hoarse for the Red Sox, I would have been surprised if the book had opened anywhere but Fenway.

Josh Wilker, Cardboard Gods


THE POPPY RICE MYSTERIES



Meet FBI investigator Poppy Rice in the first of a winning series, a tense death-row drama. Poppy is in her DC apartment, a place with a big bottle of vodka in the freezer for a hot, humid Washington summer night. It’s 2 a.m. and she’s suffering her usual insomnia so she turns on the news, an interview with the convicted ax-murderer, Rona Leigh Glueck. In ten days she will be the first woman executed by the state of Texas since the Civil War. Poppy pauses the picture at a close-up of Rona Leigh’s delicate childlike hands. So maybe it was a lightweight ax.

Readers with a taste for tough-minded heroines—and a ten-gallon sense of humor about The Lone Star State—should be pleased to meet Poppy Rice.

People (Page-Turner of the Week)



In the second Poppy Rice mystery, her FBI boss orders her to take some time to recuperate from recent job-related injuries. She is not thrilled but accepts an invitation from her boyfriend to spend a little time at his cottage on Block Island. Within days, while biking along the spectacular Atlantic coast, Poppy comes upon the body of a girl from a summer camp for overweight teenagers. She has no visible wounds and the cause of death soon becomes as much a mystery as who killed her. Then another girl goes missing. Poppy needs all the help she can get and has no choice but to partner up with the resident Rhode Island State Police officer, who is busy with some liquor that needs drinking. And the tight-lipped island natives tend to keep secrets—even deadly ones.

FBI agent Poppy Rice’s new case is a chilling one that’s sure to intrigue. Rich in eccentric characters, suspense, and Block Island lore, this is a terrific second entry in a promising new series.

—Marcia Muller



In this third installment, the irreverent intrepid Poppy Rice is back with not one but two cases, one in Ireland, the other in Boston, separated by thirty years but connected by DNA. Teaming with the inimitable Homicide Detective First Grade, Rocky Patel, Poppy sets out in search of truth and justice and instead finds herself ensnared in a web of political deceit, family intrigue, and some bad, bad guys as only Boston can produce.

This third mystery starring Agent Poppy Rice is especially strong on delivering fascinating crime lab expertise in a nonintrusive, nonshowy way. Agent Rice, a deft mix of careful scientist and daring speculator, connects the two cases to an intrigue that reaches back three decades. A well-constructed puzzle.

—American Library Association