A sometimes cloudy but uncanny mystery, filled with revelations that dazzle like summer lightning.

Three Crosses

In LeMay’s quirky debut, a teenager confronts the mysteries surrounding the Renaissance Faire run by his family.

Five years ago, tragedy struck the Mad Brothers Renaissance Faire. Ginger, a beloved Bengal tiger, fatally mauled Matt Madison, the fair’s owner. Since then, Matt’s 17-year-old son, Simon, has craved nothing but solitude in quaint Freemont, S.C, where his life is anything but easy: His mother is mentally ill, his grandfather is wheelchair-bound, and he hates the family business. Tommy, a hardworking friend of Simon’s father, runs the faire himself. Only the arrival of teen psychic Amanda Moon is able to shake Simon from his detachment. Charming, ethereal and living next door in his father’s old trailer, Amanda also believes that someone used Ginger to murder Matt. Enraged by this, Simon seeks out Tommy's tranquil company. The older man tells Simon that he will inherit the faire upon turning 18 if he’s willing to work the grounds part-time; if not, ownership goes to his cousin Aaron, an irresponsible playboy. Further complicating Simon’s life are Amanda’s visions of crosses, the pesky school principal, Dr. Danvers, and the mutilated body of a fellow student found in the local swamp. Simon can’t seem to escape any of it; however, after helping Amanda find the first of three engraved crosses, he no longer wants to. He commits to discovering the truth, although LeMay, a crafty, attentive writer, buries it deeply. The melancholy world quickly surrounds the reader, baiting the imagination with beautiful moments, such as Simon dreaming of Ginger: “Just as she was within arm’s reach, she exploded into a thousand butterflies and fluttered away in as many directions.” Equally memorable are passages highlighting Simon’s transformation from teen to young man: “One minute I was hollow and meandering and the next minute I was filled and directed.” The novel’s first third, which draws several fascinating character portraits, is especially enchanting. But once there’s a fresh murder to solve, LeMay’s writing grows tangled with long phone calls and car rides, and plot points sometimes mix with extraneous detail, creating a bog. By the end, though, LeMay cuts through it all for a satisfying finale.

A sometimes cloudy but uncanny mystery, filled with revelations that dazzle like summer lightning.

Pub Date: April 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-1482563054

Page Count: 292

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2013

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

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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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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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