McGroarty’s debut novel tells the story of a troubled ex-con and a city bus driver who has visions.
The story focuses on the strangely intertwined lives of Jake Mott and Charlie Boone. Jake is a man just exiting prison after a stay of 30 years, and bus driver Charlie is a young husband and father with a troublesome past and disturbed sleep. Jake fears God but has never confessed the extent of his crimes; Charlie sees imaginary people and hears voices. Charlie’s marriage is suffering, his job performance isn’t up to snuff, and his catatonic mother doesn’t recognize him. His wife, Lisa, takes him to a psychic, who tells him that he’s destined for a hard, lonely life; meanwhile, his escalating visions seem to have something to do with a wildfire in California. At the same time, Jake settles into a camper in a park nearby. When the two men’s paths converge when Charlie’s son loses his puppy, Charlie is immediately struck by a strong sense of recognition. It soon becomes clear that the two men share a connection that neither could have ever anticipated. When they meet again in a neighborhood bar, Charlie thinks, “This was it. It was all about this man.” It turns out that there’s a spot in the California desert where remnants of Jake’s past lie buried. On their way to find it, Jake and Charlie take a journey that transforms and restores them both. McGroarty handles his diverse cast of characters well, from aging felon Jake to Charlie’s severely mentally ill mother. The members of the Boone family, as well as the Mott family of Jake’s memory, respond realistically to hardships and share sometimes-strained bonds. McGroarty’s decision to put his protagonists on the road allows him to vividly detail who they are and who they become against the backdrop of the Midwest and West. He also includes rich regional nuances and even an appropriate musical soundtrack: “She was reminded of a line from that Nat King Cole song. ‘When I give my heart, it will be completely.’ Well, years ago she’d given her heart to Charlie, and there’d be no taking it back...ever.”

A well-told story of destiny and redemption set against a distinctly American backdrop.

Pub Date: May 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0615977539

Page Count: 292

Publisher: Basking Ridge Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

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


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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King fans won’t be disappointed, though most will likely prefer the scarier likes of The Shining and It.

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The master of modern horror returns with a loose-knit parapsychological thriller that touches on territory previously explored in Firestarter and Carrie.

Tim Jamieson is a man emphatically not in a hurry. As King’s (The Outsider, 2018, etc.) latest opens, he’s bargaining with a flight attendant to sell his seat on an overbooked run from Tampa to New York. His pockets full, he sticks out his thumb and winds up in the backwater South Carolina town of DuPray (should we hear echoes of “pray”? Or “depraved”?). Turns out he’s a decorated cop, good at his job and at reading others (“You ought to go see Doc Roper,” he tells a local. “There are pills that will brighten your attitude”). Shift the scene to Minneapolis, where young Luke Ellis, precociously brilliant, has been kidnapped by a crack extraction team, his parents brutally murdered so that it looks as if he did it. Luke is spirited off to Maine—this is King, so it’s got to be Maine—and a secret shadow-government lab where similarly conscripted paranormally blessed kids, psychokinetic and telepathic, are made to endure the Skinnerian pain-and-reward methods of the evil Mrs. Sigsby. How to bring the stories of Tim and Luke together? King has never minded detours into the unlikely, but for this one, disbelief must be extra-willingly suspended. In the end, their forces joined, the two and their redneck allies battle the sophisticated secret agents of The Institute in a bloodbath of flying bullets and beams of mental energy (“You’re in the south now, Annie had told these gunned-up interlopers. She had an idea they were about to find out just how true that was"). It’s not King at his best, but he plays on current themes of conspiracy theory, child abuse, the occult, and Deep State malevolence while getting in digs at the current occupant of the White House, to say nothing of shadowy evil masterminds with lisps.

King fans won’t be disappointed, though most will likely prefer the scarier likes of The Shining and It.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9821-1056-7

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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