An expertly conventional puzzle.

THE TWIST OF A KNIFE

What’s worse than having an influential London critic skewer your latest play? Getting arrested for her murder, that’s what.

Novelist/playwright Anthony Horowitz, who’s awfully hard to tell apart from his author, right down to the playful acknowledgments, is determined not to renew his collaboration with detective Daniel Hawthorne, who’s repeatedly upstaged him in their past investigations. Instead, he has high hopes for Mindgame, his latest theatrical thriller, which has consistently entertained audiences in the provinces. When the play opens in the West End, Sunday Times reviewer Harriet Throsby brings him crashing back to Earth by panning the play and everyone associated with it at length. The next day, the police are at Horowitz’s door to take him in for stabbing Throsby to death that morning. It’s true that all three performers in Mindgame—Lakota star Jordan Williams, rising Welsh hopeful Tirian Kirke, and punk ingenue Sky Palmer—had ample motive to kill Throsby. So did producer Ahmet Yurdakul and director Ewan Lloyd. But they didn’t leave behind the fingerprints or DNA that make Horowitz the obvious suspect, though he insists, “It’s critics who kill writers: never the other way round.” In order to beat the rap, he’ll require timely assistance from Kevin Chakraborty, the hacker downstairs, and of course from Hawthorne himself, who clearly revels in Horowitz’s dependence on him as he immerses his clinging, unwilling client in a deep dive into Throsby’s earlier writings, which provide even more motives for her murder. The real-life author, mostly eschewing the floridly inventive meta fireworks of his earlier tales, sticks more closely to his golden age models this time, producing an efficiently old-fashioned whodunit with all the surprises you'd expect.

An expertly conventional puzzle.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-293-818-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2022

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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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