by Archer Mayor ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 29, 2020
The ending may leave readers shaking their heads, but not until they’ve plowed through an impressively darkening middle.
Vermont Bureau of Investigation head Joe Gunther’s latest deep dive into crimes and misdemeanors takes off from the most unexpectedly consequential DUI arrest in local history.
The stop itself is routine. Web designer John Rust has clearly had one too many, Trooper Tyler Brennan pulls him over without incident, and the closest Rust comes to putting up any resistance is explaining that he’s been drinking to get over the death of the brother he’s cared for since childhood. Peter Rust had been hydrocephalic and vegetative for most of his 28 years, and everyone who knew him would agree that both before and after his worthless father, Daryl Hicks, took off 10 years ago following the fatal overdose of his wife, John took care of his brother with saintly patience. It’s not until Scott Jezek, John’s lawyer, spots procedural irregularities in the arrest that might give his client some wiggle room and asks investigator Sally Kravitz to dig up more details about the family’s past that skeletons begin to spring from their closets, joined shortly by the all-too-fresh body of Daryl Hicks. As Joe works his corner of the case, Sally and reporter Rachel Reiling team up again to work their own, and Mayor provides so much fodder for everyone that fresh complications are still piling up as the tale hurtles toward its final scene.The ending may leave readers shaking their heads, but not until they’ve plowed through an impressively darkening middle.
Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020
Page Count: 304
Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020
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by Lisa Jewell ‧ RELEASE DATE: Aug. 8, 2023
It's hard to read but hard to look away from.
When two women who share a birthday meet, a journalist becomes the subject of her own true-crime mystery.
On their 45th birthdays, Josie Fair and Alix Summer meet at a pub and discover they were born not only on the same day, but in the same hospital. Alix is a successful journalist, and Josie convinces Alix that her story is worth telling: Josie met her husband when she was 13 and he was 40. “I can see that maybe I was being used, that maybe I was even being groomed?” she confesses to Alix. “But that feeling of being powerful, right at the start, when I was still in control. I miss that sometimes. I really do. And what I’d like, more than anything, is to get it back.” From this premise Alix creates a Netflix series, Hi! I’m Your Birthday Twin! which investigates Josie’s life as she reconciles what happened to her as a teen and seeks a new path. With the story unfinished, the narrative unfolds in the present tense, with prose that jingles like song lyrics: “He turns to see if the girl is behind him, and sees her wishy-washy, wavy-wavy, in double vision through the glass windows of the hotel.” Alix is both intrigued and repulsed by Josie, but she initially gives her the benefit of the doubt. After all, Alix’s husband, Nathan, has a drinking problem, and Alix knows what it’s like to be reluctant to leave a bad situation. But Josie seems more interested in being part of Alix’s seemingly glamorous life than she is in fixing her own, and when three people end up dead and Alix’s life is turned upside down, the evidence points to Josie—and turns the TV series into a murder mystery. Transcripts from Alix’s interviews alternate with the narrative, offering increasingly varied perspectives on Josie’s story as told by her neighbors, friends, and family members. With so many versions of events, the ending shatters, leaving readers to decide whose is the truth.It's hard to read but hard to look away from.
Pub Date: Aug. 8, 2023
Page Count: 384
Review Posted Online: May 24, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2023
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by David Baldacci ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 11, 2022
Fascinating main characters and a clever plot add up to an exciting read.
A thriller with bloody murders and plenty of suspects and featuring an unlikely partnership between two FBI investigators.
FBI consultant Amos Decker has a lot on his mind. The huge fellow once played for the Cleveland Browns in the NFL until he received a catastrophic brain injury, leaving him with synesthesia; he sees death as electric blue. More pertinent to the plot, he also has hyperthymesia, or spontaneous and highly accurate recall. On the one hand, his memories can be horrible. He’d once come home to find his wife and daughter murdered, dead in pools of blood. Later, he listens helplessly on the telephone while his ex-partner shoots herself in the mouth. On the other hand, his memory helps him solve every case he's given. Now he's sent to Florida with a brand-new partner, Special Agent Frederica White, to investigate the murder of a federal judge. Both partners are pissed at their last-minute pairing, and they immediately see themselves as a bad fit. White is a diminutive Black single mother of two who has a double black belt in karate “because I hate getting my ass kicked.” (The author doesn't mention Decker's race, but since he's being contrasted with his new partner in every way, perhaps readers are expected to see him as White. Clarity would be nice.) Their case is strange: Judge Julia Cummins was stabbed 10 times and her face covered with a mask, while her bodyguard was shot to death. Decker and White puzzle over the “very contrarian crime scene” where two murders seem to have been committed by two different people in the same place. The plot gets complex, with suspects galore. But the interpersonal dynamic between Decker and White is just as interesting as the solution to the murders, which doesn't come easily. At first, they’d like to be done with each other and go their separate ways. But as they work together, their mutual respect rises and—alas—the tension between them fades almost completely. The pair will make a great series duo, especially if a bit of that initial tension between them returns. And Baldacci shouldn’t give Decker a pass on his tortured memories, because readers enjoy suffering heroes. It's not enough that his near-perfect recall helps him in his job.Fascinating main characters and a clever plot add up to an exciting read.
Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2022
Page Count: 448
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2022
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2022
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