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ONE OF THE GOOD GUYS

Could this novel exist without the male voice—or should it? Hard to say, but it’s a fascinating read.

Hall interrogates whether a man can be a “good man”—and from whose perspective.

Running from his failed marriage, Cole, the narrator, leaves London for England’s South Coast, where he takes up animal trapping and tries to get over his ex-wife. Soon, in his somewhat tentative way, he’s making gentle moves on his new neighbor, an artist. For her part, Lennie seems to appreciate Cole’s companionship, even as she’s not ready to sleep with him yet. Then, on New Year’s Eve, two young women who’ve been hiking through the south of England to raise money to help female victims of violence go missing. Their disappearance follows a recent confrontation with Cole, and it soon appears he may be a suspect. This is the first third of Hall’s novel; then suddenly she pulls the rug. Part Two offers backstory in the voice of Cole’s ex-wife, Mel. By the time Part Three begins, the rug has been pulled once again. In addition to these narrative voices, Hall includes excerpts from Twitter and various news outlets, an artist statement by Lennie, and interview transcripts, so the novel emerges through layers of perspective and interpretation, all pointing to a single question with incredibly complicated optics: Is it enough for a man to be “good” if he still refuses to listen, if he lives comfortably ensconced in the language and power of the patriarchy? Lately, it seems like every thriller wants to weigh in on the post-#MeToo landscape, and the better ones—and Hall’s definitely is—find some nuance in the commentary. The only thing that niggles is whether Cole deserves to have a say—the first and longest one, at that—in the novel. There’s something ironic about bemoaning the supremacy of the male voice and also offering quite a bit of perspective from the lone male character, but the approach does emphasize the way society’s expectations vary wildly for a “good man” versus a “good woman.”

Could this novel exist without the male voice—or should it? Hard to say, but it’s a fascinating read.

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2024

ISBN: 9781638931553

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Gillian Flynn/Zando

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2023

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MIND GAMES

A touching story of love and grief ends in an epic battle of good versus evil.

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Roberts’ latest may move you to tears, or joy, or dread, or all three.

Every summer, John and Cora Fox visit Cora’s mother, Lucy Lannigan, in Redbud Hollow, Kentucky, leaving their children, 12-year-old Thea and 10-year-old Rem, for a two-week taste of heaven. The children love Grammie Lucy far more than John’s snooty family, which looks down on Cora. Lucy, a healer with deep Appalachian roots, loves animals, cooks the best meals, plays musical instruments, and makes soap and candles for her thriving business. Thea—who’s inherited the psychic abilities passed down through the women of Lucy’s family—has vivid magical dreams, one of which becomes a living nightmare when a psychopath robs and murders John and Cora as Thea watches helplessly. Thea’s description of the killer and her ability to see him in real time help the skeptical police catch Ray Riggs, who goes to prison for life. Although Thea and Rem go on to have a wonderful childhood with Grammie, Thea constantly wages a mental battle with Riggs, who tries to use his own psychic abilities to get into her mind. Over the years, Thea uses her imagination to become a game designer while the more business-minded Rem helps manage her career. Thea eventually builds a house near Lucy, where a newly arrived neighbor is her teen crush, singer-songwriter Tyler Brennan. Tyler has his own issues and is protective of his young son but slowly builds a loving relationship with Thea, whose silence about her abilities leads to a devastating misunderstanding. At first Thea tries to keep Riggs locked out of her mind. As her powers grow, she torments him. Finally, she realizes that she must win this battle and destroy him if she’s ever to have peace.

A touching story of love and grief ends in an epic battle of good versus evil.

Pub Date: May 21, 2024

ISBN: 9781250289698

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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THE SILENT PATIENT

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

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A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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