Fiction - Literary
252 Pages
Reviewed on 09/02/2019
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Author Biography

My first novel, the award winning Love, Loss, and Lagniappe was inspired by actual events in my life, and utilizes my Medical and Business School background to explore the journey of self-discovery after heartbreaking loss, while revealing the scientific basis for the meaning of life (You’ll have to read it to find out!).

My next novel, Panicles, explores the price of fame and fortune through the eyes of two families, one wealthy and powerful, the other blue collar, from a chance meeting at a Florida poolside, to the highest levels of politics and power. This sweeping saga of love, war, money, and power leaves each family weighing their duty to their family versus service to their country.

It all leads to a fateful choice—a sacrifice—which could change the course of history.

I live in New York City and New Orleans with my love and inspiration, Lisa, my wife of thirty years (and counting), near our beloved grown children.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Astrid Iustulin for Readers' Favorite

What would you choose between a quiet private life and a public life that can be very rewarding but also risky? I think that we have asked ourselves this question at least once in our lives. Richard Robbins asks his readers the same question in his novel, Panicles. This amazing book tells the story of the Murnanes, a wealthy family with serious political ambitions, and of the Wax family, which finds prosperity thanks to an unexpected legacy. Scandals and questionable political actions surround the characters. Good ideas turn out to have negative consequences, while morally reprehensible actions can have positive results. What is the price to pay?

Panicles is a novel that invites reflection with its subtle and significant meaning. The characters have serious decisions to make, and often they are not blameless. Robbins does not openly condemn disputable deeds, but he rather aims at showing how difficult it is to make the right choices. He does not prevent further discussion by giving a definitive answer, but he presents the facts and lets the reader decide what is good and what is not. Panicles is not just about politics, however. Family is also an important topic, and Robbins develops this theme with remarkable skill. In a delightful scene at the beginning, Little Emily, the Murnanes’ daughter, cries because the flowers are dead. This scene comes to the reader's mind later when she explains what Panicles are, and her explanation adds a deeper meaning to the story. Connections, effects, and a great storyline make Panicles a remarkable novel from many points of view.

Trudi LoPreto

In Panicles we join the lives of two very different families as they form a lifelong friendship. The Murnane family is very rich and very influential. The Wax family members are everyday hard-working people. The families together are unique but the bond they form is strong. They met in Florida when young Matthew Murnane and Emily Wax meet at the pool and become instant friends. Emerson Murnane is the head of the family and wants nothing more than for his son Robert to enter politics. Even though Robert is not really very interested, he eventually runs and wins the election for Governor. Unfortunately, when circumstances change, younger brother Jonathan must step up to the plate. Meanwhile, in the Wax household, Matthew has joined the Air Force and wants to become a surgeon, his brother Alex has given up school, moves to Bermuda and does well in business. The interaction of each of these events changes each member of the family in both large and small ways.

Panicles is a great story of family legacy, the trials and tribulations of life, the joy and happiness of caring friendship and so much more. I am hoping for book two to see how the story continues. Author Richard Robbins has written this book with understanding, caring and making each character come alive on the pages. The very surprising ending is one I never saw coming and you will have to read Panicles to find out each of the dramatic events that make this book so good. Panicles will make you think, make you cry, make you laugh and smile and keep you reading until the very end. Panicles deserves to be added high up on your reading list.

Deborah Lloyd

Two young families meet at a pool while visiting older relatives in a Florida condominium community. Robert and Elizabeth Murnane, both attorneys, and their little girl Emily are part of a wealthy Maryland family. Emerson Murnane is the patriarch of the family, with his wife, Fiona, and he has big plans for his sons, Robert and Jonathon. Paul and Jamie Wax and their two young sons, Alex and Matthew, are a middle-class family from Hanover, Pennsylvania. An immediate friendship is formed, and Emily and Matthew have a special bond. The two families remain friends over the years, and their lives intersect in unforeseen ways. In Panicles, written by Richard Robbins, choices being made by family members are life-changing. There is a strong sense of duty to country, balanced against a more stable, comfortable lifestyle. The consequences of these choices are at the core of this intriguing story.

The author has chosen a title that aptly represents the plot; a panicle is a “loosely clustered branch of flowers.” He introduces the history and current lives of Emerson and Fiona Murnane, as well as “Dodah,” Paul’s aunt, who has a special familial connection to him. Their influence on the two young couples is strong, just as the influence of the young parents is upon their children. Richard Robbins has presented a cast of interesting characters, and each one is fully explored. The plot engages the reader from the first page to the last. The writing style is fast-paced and flows smoothly. Author Richard Robbins has penned a captivating novel in Panicles. A fascinating read!

Lane Diamond

First a disclaimer: I had the distinct pleasure of editing this great novel. But hey, I'm also an avid reader, and as such, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Richard Robbins' greatest strength as an author may be his ability to bring characters to life on the page. "Panicles" offers so many wonderful characters with whom we can empathize. I became utterly invested in several of them, and was sad to "see them go" when the book ended... but hey, maybe we'll see them again in the future. One can only hope.