A Hitchcock-ian thriller from a new voice worth noting.

THE OTHER MRS. MILLER

When Phoebe Miller spots a mysterious vehicle parking on her Chicagoland street every day, the silhouette of the driver sitting there for hours at a time, she has no idea the mayhem that's about to be set loose.

After all, Phoebe already has enough to worry about. Her late father, the infamous Daniel Noble, may have left her financially set for life, but he also saddled her with his notoriety. Exposed as a womanizer and rapist, he’s left her little choice but to hunker down inside her mansion to escape the glare of public shame. Her husband, Wyatt, with his incessant harping on babies—whether gotten by fertility treatments or adoption—isn’t helping. Phoebe can barely wait for him to leave for work each day. What’s an heiress to do but drink away her days? That is, until the new neighbors arrive, offering distractions. Despite her volatile and alcoholic husband, Vicki Napier may turn out to be Phoebe’s new best friend. But Phoebe isn’t just an overly privileged woman who likes her cabernet sauvignon a little too much: Like her father, she gets what she wants when she wants it. And Vicki’s 18-year-old hunk of a son, Jake, catches Phoebe’s sensual attentions immediately. Soon, the little cul-de-sac at the end of a Lake Forest road is writhing with passion and intrigue—all ominously surveilled by the driver of the mysterious car. Dickson’s debut novel swoops and swirls through startling plot twists and multiple perspectives, opening doors into the dark secrets lurking in her characters’ pasts. Adept at crafting unlikable characters who make despicable decisions, Dickson also manages to make us care about these potential villains, because they, too, have been wronged. So when someone ends up murdered, fingers point in multiple directions, and every suspect has reason to chill our bones or break our hearts.

A Hitchcock-ian thriller from a new voice worth noting.

Pub Date: July 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53924-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

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. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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King fans won’t be disappointed, though most will likely prefer the scarier likes of The Shining and It.

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THE INSTITUTE

The master of modern horror returns with a loose-knit parapsychological thriller that touches on territory previously explored in Firestarter and Carrie.

Tim Jamieson is a man emphatically not in a hurry. As King’s (The Outsider, 2018, etc.) latest opens, he’s bargaining with a flight attendant to sell his seat on an overbooked run from Tampa to New York. His pockets full, he sticks out his thumb and winds up in the backwater South Carolina town of DuPray (should we hear echoes of “pray”? Or “depraved”?). Turns out he’s a decorated cop, good at his job and at reading others (“You ought to go see Doc Roper,” he tells a local. “There are pills that will brighten your attitude”). Shift the scene to Minneapolis, where young Luke Ellis, precociously brilliant, has been kidnapped by a crack extraction team, his parents brutally murdered so that it looks as if he did it. Luke is spirited off to Maine—this is King, so it’s got to be Maine—and a secret shadow-government lab where similarly conscripted paranormally blessed kids, psychokinetic and telepathic, are made to endure the Skinnerian pain-and-reward methods of the evil Mrs. Sigsby. How to bring the stories of Tim and Luke together? King has never minded detours into the unlikely, but for this one, disbelief must be extra-willingly suspended. In the end, their forces joined, the two and their redneck allies battle the sophisticated secret agents of The Institute in a bloodbath of flying bullets and beams of mental energy (“You’re in the south now, Annie had told these gunned-up interlopers. She had an idea they were about to find out just how true that was"). It’s not King at his best, but he plays on current themes of conspiracy theory, child abuse, the occult, and Deep State malevolence while getting in digs at the current occupant of the White House, to say nothing of shadowy evil masterminds with lisps.

King fans won’t be disappointed, though most will likely prefer the scarier likes of The Shining and It.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9821-1056-7

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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