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RUN AWAY

In seeking to extend his formidable range, Coben overreaches: the far-flung complications feel forced and schematic rather...

A Manhattan money manager who once had it all is threatened with losing most of it in Coben’s latest greased-lightning domestic thriller.

Things haven’t been that great for Simon Greene ever since his daughter, Paige, dropped out of college and disappeared. But his world turns much darker the day that, following a tip, he sees her playing guitar in Central Park and tries to talk to her. Paige, clearly strung out on drugs, takes off, and the closest Simon comes to catching her is punching her companion, junkie Aaron Corval, in the face. His attack, captured on the phone videos of passers-by, goes viral, and he’s rebuked by millions of strangers. Three months later, Bronx Homicide Detective Isaac Fagbenle turns up in Simon’s office asking questions about the murder of Aaron, who vanished instead of sticking around to press charges. Simon and his pediatrician wife, Ingrid, go to visit the crime scene in the hope of picking up Paige’s trail, and moments after one of Aaron’s scuzzball neighbors warns them, “Even if you find her, this story won’t have a happy ending,” bullets fly, sending Ingrid to the hospital in a coma. Meanwhile, Chicago PI Elena Ramirez is hired to find the missing adopted son of wealthy Sebastian Thorpe III, and a mysterious pair named Ash and Dee Dee are executing a laid-off meat packer in Boston and a tattoo artist in suburban New Jersey. Clearly all this mayhem is somehow connected, and readers spoiled by Coben’s long history of triple-barreled thrillers (Don’t Let Go, 2017, etc.) will be turning the pages with bated breath. But the broadly hinted connection, a Maine religious commune to which Dee Dee professes undying loyalty, is more cartoonish than compelling, and the alternating chapters recounting the investigations of Simon and Elena dilute the suspense instead of intensifying it. By the time the double-twist payoff arrives, fans will be torn between dissatisfaction and relief.

In seeking to extend his formidable range, Coben overreaches: the far-flung complications feel forced and schematic rather than nightmarish. Wait till next year.

Pub Date: March 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4846-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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THEN SHE WAS GONE

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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