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A GINGERBREAD HOUSE

A disturbing story of madness and fortitude that grabs your attention from Page 1.

McPherson shows four women’s lives colliding in a life-or-death struggle in Scotland.

Tash Dodd works at her parents’ trucking firm, where she stumbles upon something that horrifies her. Apparently her father’s business includes human trafficking. She plans to force him to turn over the business to her and then turn him in. Meanwhile, at a meeting of the Nine Lives League, Ivy, a middle-aged woman seeking a cat for companionship, meets Kate, who says that Ivy looks exactly like her sister, Gail, and, suggesting that they might be twins, invites her to their unusual home in Hephaw, West Lothian. Martine is a woman of mixed race who’s searched her whole life for the identity of her father. At a genealogical meeting, she meets Kate, who claims to know who her father is and invites her to her house to meet her sister, Gail. Laura, an attractive woman in search of a fairy-tale life, tries an unusual dating service and is invited to a dinner dance at the home of Kate and her sister. Ivy, Martine, and Laura are all taken captive, drugged, and kept in a dank, putrid basement. Although they’ve all been reported missing, the police don’t look very hard until Tash, who’s been working for various van companies, goes on the run after her father refuses to give up control and ends up in an apartment overlooking an odd house in Hephaw. Trapped while investigating, she and the three brave captives plot to escape.

A disturbing story of madness and fortitude that grabs your attention from Page 1.

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7278-5001-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Severn House

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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THE HOUSE ACROSS THE LAKE

A weird, wild ride.

Celebrity scandal and a haunted lake drive the narrative in this bestselling author’s latest serving of subtly ironic suspense.

Sager’s debut, Final Girls (2017), was fun and beautifully crafted. His most recent novels—Home Before Dark (2020) and Survive the Night (2021) —have been fun and a bit rickety. His new novel fits that mold. Narrator Casey Fletcher grew up watching her mother dazzle audiences, and then she became an actor herself. While she never achieves the “America’s sweetheart” status her mother enjoyed, Casey makes a career out of bit parts in movies and on TV and meatier parts onstage. Then the death of her husband sends her into an alcoholic spiral that ends with her getting fired from a Broadway play. When paparazzi document her substance abuse, her mother exiles her to the family retreat in Vermont. Casey has a dry, droll perspective that persists until circumstances overwhelm her, and if you’re getting a Carrie Fisher vibe from Casey Fletcher, that is almost certainly not an accident. Once in Vermont, she passes the time drinking bourbon and watching the former supermodel and the tech mogul who live across the lake through a pair of binoculars. Casey befriends Katherine Royce after rescuing her when she almost drowns and soon concludes that all is not well in Katherine and Tom’s marriage. Then Katherine disappears….It would be unfair to say too much about what happens next, but creepy coincidences start piling up, and eventually, Casey has to face the possibility that maybe some of the eerie legends about Lake Greene might have some truth to them. Sager certainly delivers a lot of twists, and he ventures into what is, for him, new territory. Are there some things that don’t quite add up at the end? Maybe, but asking that question does nothing but spoil a highly entertaining read.

A weird, wild ride.

Pub Date: June 21, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-18319-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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A FLICKER IN THE DARK

The story is sadly familiar, the treatment claustrophobically intense.

Twenty years after Chloe Davis’ father was convicted of killing half a dozen young women, someone seems to be celebrating the anniversary by extending the list.

No one in little Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, was left untouched by Richard Davis’ confession, least of all his family members. His wife, Mona, tried to kill herself and has been incapacitated ever since. His son, Cooper, became so suspicious that even now it’s hard for him to accept pharmaceutical salesman Daniel Briggs, whose sister, Sophie, also vanished 20 years ago, as Chloe’s fiance. And Chloe’s own nightmares, which lead her to rebuff New York Times reporter Aaron Jansen, who wants to interview her for an anniversary story, are redoubled when her newest psychiatric patient, Lacey Deckler, follows the path of high school student Aubrey Gravino by disappearing and then turning up dead. The good news is that Dick Davis, whom Chloe has had no contact with ever since he was imprisoned after his confession, obviously didn’t commit these new crimes. The bad news is that someone else did, someone who knows a great deal about the earlier cases, someone who could be very close to Chloe indeed. First-timer Willingham laces her first-person narrative with a stifling sense of victimhood that extends even to the survivors and a series of climactic revelations, at least some of which are guaranteed to surprise the most hard-bitten readers.

The story is sadly familiar, the treatment claustrophobically intense.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-2508-0382-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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