SIZE ZERO

From the Visage series , Vol. 1

A somber, disturbing mystery fused with a scathing look at the fashion industry.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

A monk reenters his old Manhattan life, where his family’s multimillion-dollar fashion empire may have ties to his former girlfriend’s murder, in Mangin’s debut thriller.

Someone kidnaps former top model Ava Germaine and drapes her in a “skin coat”—made from the skin of a human corpse—for a Fashion Week runway. St. Joseph’s Abbey later receives a bloody package addressed to Cecil LeClaire, the name one of its monks formerly used. Inside is a hand and a bracelet Cecil identifies as having belonged to Annabelle Leigh, his girlfriend who vanished a decade ago when they were both 14. Popular media theories include that Margaux was somehow involved in Annabelle’s abduction or that Cecil, heir to his mother Margaux’s LeClaire Model Management, killed Annabelle. Believing the “skin coat” was made from Annabelle’s skin, which a doctor eventually verifies, Cecil returns to New York to bury his past before taking his solemn vows. It’s quickly apparent that the teen models living in LeClaire Mansion are not living well, perpetually hungry and not allowed to leave without supervision. But Cecil soon suspects that a mysterious, fashion-affiliated person called VD is Annabelle’s killer and that Margaux may somehow be involved. He teams up with Ava to infiltrate VD-associated Quirk Model Management and discovers a world of sordidness, where maltreated women are mere products. Mangin’s relentlessly grim story takes a dim view of the modeling industry, noting a “model’s job was to play dead,” with 24-year-old Ava designating herself as “a really old hag.” Numerous characters are either unpleasant or flawed; Cecil mostly abides by his vows but has an obvious romantic interest in celebrated fashion designer Tazia Perdonna, who happens to be his godmother. Ava’s eccentricity, however, is a bright spot: She cares for a pet rat and tries to pass off movie plots as her personal history. Mangin writes in a confident, razor-edged style in a book with genuinely engaging elements, from VD to the perils of young female models.

A somber, disturbing mystery fused with a scathing look at the fashion industry.

Pub Date: July 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73455-341-3

Page Count: 412

Publisher: Visage Media LLC

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2020

Categories:

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 123


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

DEVOLUTION

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

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 123


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

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

THE FURY

More style than substance.

Michaelides takes a literary turn in his latest novel, employing an unreliable narrator, the structure of classical drama, and a self-conscious eye to dismantling the locked-room mystery.

The novel starts off with a murder, and with seven people trapped on an isolated Greek island lashed by a "wild, unpredictable Greek wind." The narrator, soon established as Elliot Chase, then zooms out to address the reader directly, introducing the players—most importantly movie star Lana Farrar. We meet her husband, Jason Miller, her son, Leo, and her friend Kate Crosby, a theater actress. We learn about her rise to fame and her older first husband, Otto Krantz, a Hollywood producer. We learn about Kate’s possibly stalling career and Leo’s plan to apply to acting schools against his mother’s wishes. We learn about Jason’s obsession with guns. And in fragments and shards, we learn about Elliot: his painful childhood; his May–September relationship with an older female writer, now dead; his passion for the theater, where he learned “to change everything about [himself]” to fit in. Though he isn't present in every scene, he conveys each piece of the story leading up to the murder as if he were an omniscient narrator, capable of accessing every character's interior perspective. When he gets to the climax, there is, indeed, a shooting. There is, indeed, a motive. And there is, of course, a twist. The atmosphere of the novel, set mostly on this wild Greek island, echoes strongly the classical tragedies of Greece. The characters are types. The emotions are operatic. And the tragedy, of course, leads us to question the idea of fate. Michaelides seems also to be dipping into the world of Edgar Allan Poe, offering an unreliable narrator who feels more like a literary exercise. As an exploration of genre, it’s really quite fascinating. As a thriller, it’s not particularly surprising.

More style than substance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2024

ISBN: 9781250758989

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2023

Close Quickview