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ONE PERFECT COUPLE

The most cinematic Ruth Ware novel so far.

A reality TV paradise becomes a nightmare for the show’s unlucky contestants.

Lyla Santiago and Nico Reese have been dating for more than two years, and she’s beginning to feel like their relationship may be hitting a wall; she loves him, but his main focus at 28 is on his acting career, while, at 32, scientist Lyla is starting to dream about settling down. When Nico pleads with her to join him on a new reality TV show, One Perfect Couple, Lyla views it as an opportunity to see whether their relationship can go the distance—in reality as well as on TV. They arrive on a remote Indonesian island to find blue waters, white sands, romantic huts, and eight other contestants, all beautiful, glamorous, and clearly committed to bolstering their visibility by competing on the show. The director seems a bit shady; he insists (as their contract demands) that they turn in all electronics, plies them with booze, and then leaves with the crew—and the first ousted contestant. That night, a huge storm sweeps across the island. The next morning reveals a fatality among the wreckage: a hut and its inhabitant have been crushed by a tree, and the outbuildings have been destroyed. The remaining contestants are cut off from all communication, with the exception of one radio, and there is a very limited supply of food and water. So Love Island becomes Survivor, and one person in particular is set on being the last person standing. Ware offers another take on the locked-room mystery, but this time, her focus is less on creating a creepy atmosphere of dread, as she did in earlier novels, than on showing the absolute brutality of which some humans are capable. But she still has a good time herself: There’s a funny self-referential line to an earlier novel, plus some female characters MacGyver-ing a battery. The prolific Ware continues to stretch herself, taking on something new in each novel and writing strong—and increasingly kick-ass—female characters.

The most cinematic Ruth Ware novel so far.

Pub Date: May 21, 2024

ISBN: 9781668025598

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Scout Press/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

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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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THE SILENT PATIENT

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

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A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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