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BAD HABITS

A tense psychological thriller with an intriguing setup but too many far-fetched twists at the end.

Grad students are tasty snacks in the shark tank of faculty ambition.

Gentry sets her third thriller in the world of academe, where we find a slew of powerful female characters and some male eye candy. Mackenzie Claire Woods has just finished her keynote at an academic conference in LA and is about to take a young fellow she knows only as "Harvard" up to her room in the SkyLoft Hotel when she spots her long-estranged childhood best friend. Gwen Whitney was the princess to Mac's pauper, her escape route from a hardscrabble childhood that included junior beauty pageants, her father's abandonment, her mother's drug addiction, and a disabled sister. Both Mac and Gwen went on to graduate school at The Program, a taxing course of study in rarefied disciplines, painted with a welcome touch of satire. Coming from her family, is it any wonder grad student Mac can't make heads or tails of topics like Diasporic Feminisms, Dualities of Motion and Emotion, and Introduction to Economimesis? Most problematically, she can't get through a tome titled "Ethical Negation," written by the faculty star, Bethany Ladd, a sexy genius everyone is competing to impress and whose seminar is offered at the same time as Mac's restaurant shift. Since the poor girl is not only putting herself through school, but supporting her mother and sister, she desperately needs a fellowship Bethany seems to control. The narrative hopscotches between the challenges of grad school and the unfolding drama, 10 years later, in the SkyLoft Hotel. Mac sends Harvard up to her room by himself and steps out of the elevator to waylay Gwen. They have a heart-to-heart during which Mac gets blackout drunk and wakes up unable to remember just how much she confessed about some terrible incident in the past: suspense by alcohol. As the story races to its conclusion, a racism issue with another student is needlessly tacked on and believability is tossed to the winds.

A tense psychological thriller with an intriguing setup but too many far-fetched twists at the end.

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-12654-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE DEVLINS

As an adjunct member says, “You’re not a family, you’re a force.” Exactly, though not in the way you’d expect.

The ne’er-do-well son of a successful Irish American family gets dragged into criminal complications that suggest the rest of the Devlins aren’t exactly the upstanding citizens they appear.

The first 35 years in the life of Thomas “TJ” Devlin have been one disappointment after another to his parents, lawyers who founded a prosperous insurance and reinsurance firm, and his more successful siblings, John and Gabby. A longtime alcoholic who’s been unemployable ever since he did time for an incident involving his ex-girlfriend Carrie’s then 2-year-old daughter, TJ is nominally an investigator for Devlin & Devlin, but everyone knows the post is a sinecure. Things change dramatically when golden-boy John tells TJ that he just killed Neil Lemaire, an accountant for D&D client Runstan Electronics. Their speedy return to the murder scene reveals no corpse, so the brothers breathe easier—until Lemaire turns up shot to death in his car. John’s way of avoiding anything that might jeopardize his status as heir apparent to D&D is to throw TJ under the bus, blaming him for everything John himself has done and adding that you can’t trust anything his brother has said since he’s fallen off the wagon. TJ, who’s maintained his sobriety a day at a time for nearly two years, feels outraged, but neither the police investigating the murder nor his nearest and dearest care about his feelings. Forget the forgettable mystery, whose solution will leave you shrugging instead of gasping, and focus on the circular firing squad of the Devlins, and you’ll have a much better time than TJ.

As an adjunct member says, “You’re not a family, you’re a force.” Exactly, though not in the way you’d expect.

Pub Date: March 26, 2024

ISBN: 9780525539704

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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THREE-INCH TEETH

A tale that’s hard to believe but easy to swallow in a single gulp.

A bear is hunting prey in Wyoming’s Bighorns. And not just any bear.

It’s bad enough that Clay Hutmacher, who manages the Double Diamond Ranch, has lost his son, Clay Jr., to a vicious attack by a grizzly bear. What’s much worse is that Clay Jr.—who’d been about to pop the question to game warden Joe Pickett’s daughter, Sheridan—is only the first of the victims over an exceptionally broad geographical area. Marshal Marvin Bertignolli is clawed and bitten to death over in Hanna. Sgt. Ryan Winner is found bleeding out north of Rawlins. Former Twelve Sleep County prosecutor Dulcie Schalk, one of two survivors of an ambush, doesn’t survive her final encounter. The four experts chosen to kill the grizzly rope Joe into their expedition, but since their quarry keeps turning up far from the last sighting, the most meaningful confrontation the Predator Attack Team has is with a pair of Mama Bears, animal rights activists who demand due process for Tisiphone, as they’ve dubbed the presumed killer. Box, who’s far too canny to leave Tisiphone alone on center stage, follows Joe’s old antagonist Dallas Cates as the ex–rodeo star is released from prison and embarks on his revenge tour, which takes him to Lee Ogburn-Russell, an inventor whose life Dallas saved, and Axel Soledad, a correspondent who shares so many enemies with Dallas that he suggests they go after them together. Franchise fans will appreciate new details about Joe’s complicated family, the obligatory high-country landscapes, and yet another corrupt law enforcer.

A tale that’s hard to believe but easy to swallow in a single gulp.

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2024

ISBN: 9780593331347

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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