An exceptional story that derives its frights from both supernatural and corporeal aspects.




From the Bayou Hauntings series , Vol. 2

A deputy’s personal investigation into a reputedly haunted building in Louisiana links a string of unexplained and seemingly unrelated deaths in this suspense sequel.

The most terrifying experience in Landry Drake’s life was when, dared by his older brother, he spent an hour in the Asylum. The 200-year-old structure, residing in the ghost town of Victory, Louisiana, is known as the state’s “most haunted building.” Beginning as a hotel in the 1800s, the edifice became a maximum security prison at the turn of the century and housed violent, mentally unstable inmates. The locals dubbed it the Asylum, which was eventually shut down due to widespread abuse of prisoners by vicious guards. Since then, rumors have claimed that the dead inmates haunt the place. Twelve years after his ordeal, 20-something Landry, now an Iberia Parish deputy sheriff, is still disturbed by the voices he’s certain he heard back then. He researches the Asylum and learns 13 unsolved murders have occurred there in the last three decades. Landry later teams up with Cate Adams, daughter of the building’s current owner, and soon uncovers a connection among the killings as well as other puzzling local deaths. He struggles to unravel the mystery despite the sheriff’s orders to stop spending his night shifts on amateur sleuthing. Meanwhile, two brutal thugs and longtime prison escapees Mack Thorn and Sam Gold are regular squatters at the Asylum. Their lives ultimately intersect with Landry’s and Cate’s, precipitating a savage encounter in a building that’s very likely already inhabited by ghosts. Notwithstanding its haunted-house scenario, Thompson’s (Callie, 2017, etc.) novel is more mystery than horror. Supernatural elements, for one, are ambiguous: The voices Landry (and others) has heard in the Asylum could easily belong to humans who are very much alive. Moreover, the introduction of Mack and Sam not only provides the story with an unmistakable menace, but also hints at the possibility that the two men are the haunters. The author sets an unnerving tone with straightforward but engrossing writing. The history of the Asylum, for example, is an extended segment that never loiters thanks to meticulous and harrowing details of the guards’ mistreatment of inmates. Similarly, the story’s atmosphere is often ominous, even when outside Asylum walls: “Dense, low-hanging storm clouds rolled in fast. Summer storms popped up in the humid evenings, and a rumble of thunder gave a preview of what to expect.” Landry and Cate’s immediate attraction doesn’t spark much romance but does pair the protagonist with a much-needed ally. Yet it’s the eccentric supporting characters who truly add depth to the narrative. Standouts include Cate’s father, whose purchase of cheap, unwanted properties has netted him 200 parcels in Louisiana, and a spooky, immoral preacher who has no qualms about trespassing. Much of the final act unfolds inside the Asylum, clarifying the mysteries while putting both Landry and Cate in peril. There are also a couple of surprises that are quite effective. These are trailed by an explanation and wrap-up that’s largely unnecessary (Thompson’s plot is coherent throughout) but fortunately not prolonged.

An exceptional story that derives its frights from both supernatural and corporeal aspects.

Pub Date: June 26, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9979129-8-2

Page Count: 262

Publisher: Asendente Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.


A middle-aged woman returns to her childhood home to care for her ailing father, confronting many painful secrets from her past.

When Mallory Aldiss gets a call from a long-ago boyfriend telling her that her elderly father has been gallivanting around town with a gun in his hand, Mallory decides it’s time to return to the small Rhode Island town that she’s been avoiding for more than a decade. Mallory’s precocious 13-year-old daughter, Joy, is thrilled that she'll get to meet her grandfather at long last, and an aunt, too, and she'll finally see the place where her mother grew up. When they arrive in Bay Bluff, it’s barely a few hours before Mallory bumps into her old flame, Jack, the only man she’s ever really loved. Gone is the rebellious young person she remembers, and in his place stands a compassionate, accomplished adult. As they try to reconnect, Mallory realizes that the same obstacle that pushed them apart decades earlier is still standing in their way: Jack blames Mallory’s father for his mother’s death. No one knows exactly how Jack’s mother died, but Jack thinks a love affair between her and Mallory’s father had something to do with it. As Jack and Mallory chase down answers, Mallory also tries to repair her rocky relationships with her two sisters and determine why her father has always been so hard on her. Told entirely from Mallory’s perspective, the novel has a haunting, nostalgic quality. Despite the complex and overlapping layers to the history of Bay Bluff and its inhabitants, the book at times trudges too slowly through Mallory’s meanderings down Memory Lane. Even so, Delinsky sometimes manages to pick up the pace, and in those moments the beauty and nuance of this complicated family tale shine through. Readers who don’t mind skimming past details that do little to advance the plot may find that the juicier nuggets and realistically rendered human connections are worth the effort.

A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11951-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

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Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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