A disturbing, propulsive, and satisfying thriller. Wilson is an author to watch.

THE DEAD GIRL IN 2A

A troubled ghostwriter’s past may be the key to an explosive secret.

Life hasn’t been the same for Jake Buchannan since the accident that seriously injured his 8-year-old daughter, Em, and drove a wedge between him and his wife, Abby. Jake just hopes that his new job writing the memoirs of a mysterious and wealthy Colorado man will at least ensure they can pay for Em’s medical bills. When he meets former teacher Clara Stowe on his flight to Denver, he’s instantly drawn to her. Small talk turns to something more profound when Clara reveals that she plans to kill herself at the site of two mountain peaks, Aspen’s Maroon Bells. And that’s not all. Clara was adopted as a child, as was Jake, and neither can remember their childhoods before they were adopted. It’s enough to convince Jake that they’ve met for a reason, and he implores Clara to contact him if she needs him. Through alternating narratives, it’s revealed that Clara and Jake were both invited by a mysterious man named Landis to take part in a clinical trial designed to help them unlock memories and meet their full potential. Both were given an evocative, illustrated book and a vial of pills and have gone through various changes in the months since, such as heightened empathy for Jake and Clara’s self-imposed isolation and fascination with death. When Jake is approached by a woman claiming that Landis isn’t quite what he seems, he finds himself in a relentless quest for the truth that just might kill him. Wilson (Mr. Tender’s Girl, 2018, etc.) explores how good intentions and hubris can lead down dark paths while tackling themes of sorrow, guilt, and the intoxicating power of memory and human connection with equal aplomb. He even throws in a murder mystery for good measure and delivers a denouement that is both strangely sad and exceedingly creepy. Dean Koontz fans in particular will find a lot to enjoy.

A disturbing, propulsive, and satisfying thriller. Wilson is an author to watch.

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8603-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more