UP THE CREEK

A New Jersey mother’s and son’s psychic dreams have ties to a murder case in this supernatural thriller.

Caitlin Walker assures her 4-year-old son, Adam, that his recurring nightmares aren’t real. But his latest one seems all too familiar to Caitlin. She had premonitory dreams when younger, though an over-the-counter sleeping pill has kept her dreamless for nearly a decade. One of her childhood dreams involved a young girl’s murder—similar to the nightmare Adam describes. That unsolved homicide took place in Culver Creek, Pennsylvania, 19 years ago. It’s a cold case that new Culver Creek Police Detective Sage Dorian is currently working. He quickly has potential leads, especially as he suspects one of the original investigating officers is hiding something. Also harboring secrets are Caitlin and her husband, Lance; she’s never told him of her psychic dreams, and he has a particular reason for locking their bedroom door each night. Before Caitlin can determine if Adam’s nightmare is the same as hers or about something more recent, her son mysteriously disappears. This apparent kidnapping ultimately shines a light on the spouses’ hidden pasts and may even unmask a killer. This swift, searing murder mystery never wavers. For example, characters’ backstories, including those of Caitlin’s and Lance’s parents, are filled with surprises that have at least some connections to the homicide. Moreover, these backstories enhance character development; Sage is seemingly driven by his sister’s unsolved murder. Grosso chisels her prose to great effect, particularly the descriptions of Caitlin: Lance “knew nothing about her psychic dreams or the freak she used to be. She had always thought it was for the best, but now the unthinkable had happened, and it was all her fault.” Though the final act relies on coincidence, the killer’s unveiling is an engrossing turn, and characters caught in a torrential rain amp up the suspense. The tale culminates in an unforgettable ending.

A taut, gripping mystery. (author’s note, author bio)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-949852-20-2

Page Count: 428

Publisher: Glitter Pigeon Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2020

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A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

FAIRY TALE

Narnia on the Penobscot: a grand, and naturally strange, entertainment from the ever prolific King.

What’s a person to do when sheltering from Covid? In King’s case, write something to entertain himself while reflecting on what was going on in the world outside—ravaged cities, contentious politics, uncertainty. King’s yarn begins in a world that’s recognizably ours, and with a familiar trope: A young woman, out to buy fried chicken, is mashed by a runaway plumber’s van, sending her husband into an alcoholic tailspin and her son into a preadolescent funk, driven “bugfuck” by a father who “was always trying to apologize.” The son makes good by rescuing an elderly neighbor who’s fallen off a ladder, though he protests that the man’s equally elderly German shepherd, Radar, was the true hero. Whatever the case, Mr. Bowditch has an improbable trove of gold in his Bates Motel of a home, and its origin seems to lie in a shed behind the house, one that Mr. Bowditch warns the boy away from: “ ‘Don’t go in there,’ he said. ‘You may in time, but for now don’t even think of it.’ ” It’s not Pennywise who awaits in the underworld behind the shed door, but there’s plenty that’s weird and unexpected, including a woman, Dora, whose “skin was slate gray and her face was cruelly deformed,” and a whole bunch of people—well, sort of people, anyway—who’d like nothing better than to bring their special brand of evil up to our world’s surface. King’s young protagonist, Charlie Reade, is resourceful beyond his years, but it helps that the old dog gains some of its youthful vigor in the depths below. King delivers a more or less traditional fable that includes a knowing nod: “I think I know what you want,” Charlie tells the reader, "and now you have it”—namely, a happy ending but with a suitably sardonic wink.

A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66800-217-9

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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Not the best of Connelly’s procedurals, but nobody else does them better than his second-best.

DESERT STAR

A snap of the yo-yo string yanks Harry Bosch out of retirement yet again.

Los Angeles Councilman Jake Pearlman has resurrected the LAPD’s Open-Unsolved Unit in order to reopen the case of his kid sister, Sarah, whose 1994 murder was instantly eclipsed in the press by the O.J. Simpson case when it broke a day later. Since not even a councilor can reconstitute a police unit for a single favored case, Det. Renée Ballard and her mostly volunteer (read: unpaid) crew are expected to reopen some other cold cases as well, giving Bosch a fresh opportunity to gather evidence against Finbar McShane, the crooked manager he’s convinced executed industrial contractor Stephen Gallagher, his wife, and their two children in 2013 and buried them in a single desert grave. The case has haunted Bosch more than any other he failed to close, and he’s fine to work the Pearlman homicide if it’ll give him another crack at McShane. As it turns out, the Pearlman case is considerably more interesting—partly because the break that leads the unit to a surprising new suspect turns out to be both fraught and misleading, partly because identifying the killer is only the beginning of Bosch’s problems. The windup of the Gallagher murders, a testament to sweating every detail and following every lead wherever it goes, is more heartfelt but less wily and dramatic. Fans of the aging detective who fear that he might be mellowing will be happy to hear that “putting him on a team did not make him a team player.”

Not the best of Connelly’s procedurals, but nobody else does them better than his second-best.

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-48565-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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