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THE PALACE

Some thrills, but in the end this asks too much of the hero, and of the reader.

Simon Riske returns for another high-octane ride.

Something of a modern Renaissance man, reformed thief and Marseilles gangster Riske blends a criminal youth with more socially acceptable adult activities and, in addition to his day job as a restorer of world-class sports cars, markets himself as a high-end fixer. When the novel opens, he is engaged in stealing back a Monet first stolen from the Rijksmuseum. Predictable complications arise, allowing Riske to show off his admirable driving skills, and the stage is set. In this somewhat murky installment, Riske is asked to mediate the release of Rafael de Bourbon, an old friend who is being held by Thai officials on questionable charges, but before he can secure the man's freedom, de Bourbon and several others are killed in a shootout. It turns out Rafa was privy to a large-scale swindle involving the sovereign wealth funds of several nations, and he was killed to preserve the secrets of the swindle. Riske naturally decides to pursue justice for Rafa and to uncover the swindle, partly to benefit Rafa's wife, who once had a thing with Riske. If all this seems a little contrived, fear not, there's more. Part of the loot amassed in the swindle has gone to a secret account, and in a parallel subplot it's revealed that this money is being used to subvert European efforts to accommodate and resettle refugees: Rich nationalistic racists are bankrolling a suicide-bomb mission that will once and for all destroy any humanitarian impulses European governments might have. As Riske uncovers the details of the wealth-fund thefts he also begins to unravel the connections to the rich nationalists, and eventually the two investigations become one. Riske is a likable character, a nice blending of quick wit, a misspent youth, and better impulses; he's not above picking a pocket or stealing a Ferrari, but he's on the side of the angels. In this adventure, however, he seems inappropriately pitted against social and economic forces of grave and genuine magnitude. Fascist forces are loose in the world, refugees perish horribly trying to secure a future, and there's Riske, tootling along in a borrowed (legitimately, this time) Ferrari, headed to Cannes to make it right. Riske can steal your Monet back, Riske can save your boy and secure your inheritance, but save the world? Simon Riske?

Some thrills, but in the end this asks too much of the hero, and of the reader.

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-31645-601-2

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Mulholland Books/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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HOME IS WHERE THE BODIES ARE

Answers are hard to come by in this twisting tale designed to trick and delight.

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Three siblings on very different paths learn that their family home may be haunted by secrets.

Eldest daughter Beth is alone with her fading mother as she takes her final breath and says something about Beth’s long-departed brother and sister, who may not have disappeared forever. Beth is still reeling from the loss of her mother when her estranged siblings show up. Michael, the youngest, hasn’t been home since their father’s disappearance seven years ago. In the meantime, he’s outgrown his siblings, trading his share of the family troubles for a high-paying job in San Jose. Nicole, the middle child, has been overpowered by addiction and prioritized tuning out reality over any sense of responsibility, much to Beth’s disgust. Though their mother’s death marks an ending for the family, it’s also a beginning, as the three siblings realize when they find a disturbing videotape among their parents’ belongings. The video, from 1999, sheds suspicion on their father’s disappearance, linking it to a long-unsolved neighborhood mystery. Was it just a series of unfortunate circumstances that broke the family apart, or does something more sinister underlie the sadness they’ve all found in life? In chapters that rotate among the family’s first-person narratives, the siblings take turns digging up stories and secrets in their search for solace.

Answers are hard to come by in this twisting tale designed to trick and delight.

Pub Date: April 30, 2024

ISBN: 9798212182843

Page Count: 270

Publisher: Blackstone

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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THE HOUSE ACROSS THE LAKE

A weird, wild ride.

Celebrity scandal and a haunted lake drive the narrative in this bestselling author’s latest serving of subtly ironic suspense.

Sager’s debut, Final Girls (2017), was fun and beautifully crafted. His most recent novels—Home Before Dark (2020) and Survive the Night (2021) —have been fun and a bit rickety. His new novel fits that mold. Narrator Casey Fletcher grew up watching her mother dazzle audiences, and then she became an actor herself. While she never achieves the “America’s sweetheart” status her mother enjoyed, Casey makes a career out of bit parts in movies and on TV and meatier parts onstage. Then the death of her husband sends her into an alcoholic spiral that ends with her getting fired from a Broadway play. When paparazzi document her substance abuse, her mother exiles her to the family retreat in Vermont. Casey has a dry, droll perspective that persists until circumstances overwhelm her, and if you’re getting a Carrie Fisher vibe from Casey Fletcher, that is almost certainly not an accident. Once in Vermont, she passes the time drinking bourbon and watching the former supermodel and the tech mogul who live across the lake through a pair of binoculars. Casey befriends Katherine Royce after rescuing her when she almost drowns and soon concludes that all is not well in Katherine and Tom’s marriage. Then Katherine disappears….It would be unfair to say too much about what happens next, but creepy coincidences start piling up, and eventually, Casey has to face the possibility that maybe some of the eerie legends about Lake Greene might have some truth to them. Sager certainly delivers a lot of twists, and he ventures into what is, for him, new territory. Are there some things that don’t quite add up at the end? Maybe, but asking that question does nothing but spoil a highly entertaining read.

A weird, wild ride.

Pub Date: June 21, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-18319-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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