AVAILABLE June 13, 2023
How often does the title of a book also describe it? Practically never. But such is the case with The Spectacular, by Fiona Davis, because it is, in a word…spectacular.
Set mostly in 1956, we follow nineteen year old dancer Marion Brooks. Stifled by an over-protective father and a jealous older sister, Marion abandons all caution and decides to audition for the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. Amazingly, she succeeds and is put through the exhausting grind of long hours, extreme physical exertion, and lofty expectations. Kick high and smile wide, no matter what.
The first half of the book gives us a backstage pass through Marion’s eyes and experiences: the euphoria of being on stage, the fear of disappointing her family, plus the friendships and intricacies of a young woman living independently during a very buttoned up time in history. Then suddenly, this already fascinating plot swerves in a new direction, turning The Spectacular into a suspenseful thriller.
While Marion is navigating the excitement of professional dance, the Big Apple Bomber is on his sixteenth year terrorizing the city. Pipe bombs are being left in public places such as libraries, phone booths, offices, and theaters. That’s right. Theaters. It is here that Marion’s story gains even more momentum and collides with actual events because these bombings really happened, becoming a case that pioneered the use of criminal profiling in police work and examining the role of severe mental illness as a possible cause for such crimes.
I went into this book with no real idea of what to expect and ended up absolutely mesmerized. Fiona Davis is an extraordinary writer who has created an incredibly immersive story. Marion Brooks is a riveting protagonist, as are the supporting characters in her orbit, all of whom are grappling with challenges and emotions that Davis brings to life in a realistic way. I could feel the energy of events while being transported to 1950s New York City, a living, breathing metropolis which is a character in itself. Its heartbeat echoes throughout the story’s action, romance, and drama with a pulsating rhythm that keeps the reader’s attention from start to finish.
Keep this book on your radar when it releases in June. It is exceptional.