A slow-moving but ultimately gripping crime drama.


A debut novel focuses on a killer in 1970s New England.

Maurice “Mo” Lumen may be 24 years old but he acts much like a preadolescent. Ever since Mo suffered a seizure at 11, he has acted differently. His main passions are baseball and fishing. To most, he is “a respectful, affable young man with limited maturity and intellect” who works as a groundskeeper at a college in Rhode Island. But does he have a dark side? When young women start turning up dead in the area, Mo eventually becomes a suspect. Cue FBI agent Francis “Frank” Palmer. Frank is so committed to his work that his personal life has unraveled. It doesn’t help that he’s been “exposed to the horrors lurking in society’s shadows.” Still, the man gets results. He even gives guest lectures at Harvard. When Mo and Frank finally cross paths, it is October 1975. The Red Sox are in the World Series. Mo has befriended a suspicious professor who clearly wants more than to just watch baseball with the young man. The media have dubbed whomever is responsible for the recent murders the Pastoral Predator. Could the predator really be Mo? At over 500 pages, Lebeau’s series opener takes the long route to finding out who the monster is. Readers learn about Mo’s family background, the men he works with as a groundskeeper, and the journey that brought him to Rhode Island. Likewise, Frank’s details include the time he told his father he didn’t want to be a lawyer, a meal he had with serial killer Ted Bundy, and what he thinks of the buildings at Harvard. All of this information makes for a slow burn. But while the story’s pace can be painstaking, once all the cards are on the table, the tension is immense. Who is the Pastoral Predator? Just as readers think they are sure of the answer, serious doubts are likely to arise.

A slow-moving but ultimately gripping crime drama.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022


Page Count: 554

Publisher: Books Fluent

Review Posted Online: April 21, 2022

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A moody tone hangs like a cloud over the alarming but vague danger awaiting the world.


A tragedy has sent a young artist into seclusion. A potential apocalypse may be enough to bring her back.

For the past two years, 10 months, and 18 days, Katie’s lived in darkness, on retreat from her former life as a rising artist after a personal tragedy eclipsed any happiness she believed possible. Jacob’s Ladder, a remote island named by a former resident for its potential as a stairway to heaven, offers Katie the chance to hide from the rest of the world, merely existing, not healing. She lives each day trying to fulfill what she’s called “the Promise” to those in the life she once knew, though a promise of what is not clear. The closest neighboring islands, Oak Haven and Ringrock, are equally cloistered. Though Katie’s realtor has suggested that Ringrock is some sort of Environmental Protection Agency research station, Katie’s cynicism makes her suspect something more nefarious. The protagonist's remote world and the author’s moody writing are disrupted one night by the startling appearance of drones and the suspicious behavior of a fox Katie’s dubbed Michael J. The wary canine serves as a harbinger of potential danger, and Katie responds by arming herself to the hilt when unexpected guests descend on Jacob’s Ladder. While the true purpose of these visitors is unclear, Katie senses that the greater world is at the precipice of permanent collapse and that she may be the only one who can prevent the impending apocalypse.

A moody tone hangs like a cloud over the alarming but vague danger awaiting the world.

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-6625-0044-2

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 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.

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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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