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THE FAMILY REMAINS

An unevenly paced thriller that fails to match its predecessor’s level of intensity.

In this sequel to The Family Upstairs (2019), two siblings continue to deal with the fallout of their traumatic childhoods.

Lucy Lamb is living with her brother, Henry, after the two have been reunited, and she’s focused on reconnecting with her eldest daughter, Libby, and building a more stable life for her younger kids. But when Libby locates her birth father, Phin Thomsen, who lived as a teenager with Lucy and Henry—all their parents were part of a cult led by Phin’s father and died together in a suicide pact—the family begins making plans to go visit him in Botswana until word comes that Phin has taken a leave of absence from his job. After tracing Phin to Chicago, Henry leaves abruptly to go find him and cuts off all communication, prompting deep concern in Lucy, who knows of Henry’s dangerous obsession with Phin (which goes so deep that Henry has fashioned himself to look like Phin). Meanwhile, human remains have been found in the Thames and traced to the childhood home Libby inherited, which leaves all three wanted for police questioning when it is determined the victim lived with Henry, Lucy, and Libby in their childhood home and was murdered. Separately, an unrelated character named Rachel Rimmer remembers her disastrous marriage when she is contacted about her abusive husband’s murder. In this latest thriller, Jewell dives back into the psyche of Henry Lamb, one of her most unsettling characters. She attempts to weave together four narratives but takes too long to develop connections among the disparate stories (especially Rachel’s), which means the novel is weighted down with unrelated murder victims and minor characters, both of which detract from the suspense of Henry’s pursuit of Phin.

An unevenly paced thriller that fails to match its predecessor’s level of intensity.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-9821-7889-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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DEVOLUTION

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z(2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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MIND GAMES

A touching story of love and grief ends in an epic battle of good versus evil.

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Roberts’ latest may move you to tears, or joy, or dread, or all three.

Every summer, John and Cora Fox visit Cora’s mother, Lucy Lannigan, in Redbud Hollow, Kentucky, leaving their children, 12-year-old Thea and 10-year-old Rem, for a two-week taste of heaven. The children love Grammie Lucy far more than John’s snooty family, which looks down on Cora. Lucy, a healer with deep Appalachian roots, loves animals, cooks the best meals, plays musical instruments, and makes soap and candles for her thriving business. Thea—who’s inherited the psychic abilities passed down through the women of Lucy’s family—has vivid magical dreams, one of which becomes a living nightmare when a psychopath robs and murders John and Cora as Thea watches helplessly. Thea’s description of the killer and her ability to see him in real time help the skeptical police catch Ray Riggs, who goes to prison for life. Although Thea and Rem go on to have a wonderful childhood with Grammie, Thea constantly wages a mental battle with Riggs, who tries to use his own psychic abilities to get into her mind. Over the years, Thea uses her imagination to become a game designer while the more business-minded Rem helps manage her career. Thea eventually builds a house near Lucy, where a newly arrived neighbor is her teen crush, singer-songwriter Tyler Brennan. Tyler has his own issues and is protective of his young son but slowly builds a loving relationship with Thea, whose silence about her abilities leads to a devastating misunderstanding. At first Thea tries to keep Riggs locked out of her mind. As her powers grow, she torments him. Finally, she realizes that she must win this battle and destroy him if she’s ever to have peace.

A touching story of love and grief ends in an epic battle of good versus evil.

Pub Date: May 21, 2024

ISBN: 9781250289698

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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