Fans will applaud Scott’s painful honesty in portraying her women's choices and actions and the consequences of both.

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NOT BAD PEOPLE

After three 30-something friends release candle-driven sky lanterns on New Year’s Eve, a small plane crashes nearby. Were they responsible?

In Scott’s debut novel, the decadeslong friendship among Aimee, Melinda, and Lou in Hensley, Australia, has tied them together from childhood even as their lives have wildly diverged. But because the lanterns they set off from Melinda’s balcony during the town’s fireworks display behave unexpectedly, Aimee, a married mother of two, becomes convinced that the friends directly caused the plane crash. She begins obsessively driving by the site, inserting herself into the affected family’s life and the investigation. Childless Melinda, who has never married, is laser-focused on avoiding scandal as the launch of her jewelry business’s initial public offering approaches and she works to take her brand global. And Lou, a once-upon-a-time teenage mother thrown out of the house by her parents, is too focused on her own daughter’s actions and choices to pay much attention. And really, with Aimee’s history of mental health problems, aren’t her obsessions always, frustratingly, groundless? Reminiscent of Liane Moriarty, Marian Keyes, and Celeste Ng, Scott’s voice is clear in this solid novel, which explores the not-so-black-and-white concepts of honesty, infidelity, mental health, and friendship against the backdrop of small community life where families and people’s choices have intersected for generations. The pacing is slow and the narrative straightforward enough that readers can dip in and out without losing track of the action. Though some characters seem to have been created just to include certain archetypes, the complexity of the female characters and their interior struggles pull the story forward addictively. There are enough red herrings that even the most focused reader won’t see the denouement coming.

Fans will applaud Scott’s painful honesty in portraying her women's choices and actions and the consequences of both.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-285413-1

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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