A compelling psychological tale that makes a well-worn formula feel new.

READ REVIEW

THE IDENTICAL OPPOSITE

In Savage’s thriller, a troubled woman’s grip on reality loosens after her former lover moves into the neighborhood—with fatal consequences.

Paula Hickman has led a difficult life, despite the fact she’s the heiress to a fortune. A series of traumas, including the deaths of her mother and sister in a car accident, her father’s suicide, and the apparent murder of her college roommate, have all taken a psychological toll. She’s now married to Alan, an academic at the University of California, Los Angeles, and she spends her days quietly battling suicidal depression. However, after her old flame, Anthony Mills, moves in across the street, her life becomes altogether more complicated. Specifically, she thinks that she and Anthony’s wife, Hannah, look identical in every detail—but no one else sees the resemblance. Paula agrees to visit therapist Claire Horst who, despite her benevolent approach to her patient’s mental frailty, isn’t at all what she seems. When Paula is arrested for a murder that she doesn’t remember committing, she begins to question her sanity; she had the motive and the means to commit the crime, and she has no idea what she was doing when it took place. With the aid of an acerbic lawyer and the executor of her father’s estate, she sets about clearing her name. Over the course of this book, Savage, who previously wrote The Last Getaway (2019), offers a brisk read that leans more toward dialogue than descriptive prose. Indeed, the author keeps the narrative padding to a minimum, overall, mirroring the lean, noir classics that clearly inspired him. What’s most impressive about the novel, though, is its sensitivity toward mental health. The basic plot, in which an amnesiac protagonist can’t remember whether he or she committed murder, is hardly a new one; see Alfred Hitchcock’s 1945 film Spellbound, for example. However, Savage’s deft portrayal of a descent into delusion is convincing.

A compelling psychological tale that makes a well-worn formula feel new.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Manuscript

Review Posted Online: March 8, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Now that Coben’s added politics to his heady brew, expect sex and religion to join the mix.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE BOY FROM THE WOODS

Coben’s latest darkest-suburbs thriller sets a decidedly offbeat detective on the trail of a crime with overtones unmistakably redolent of once and future presidential elections.

Wilde is called Wilde because nobody’s known his real name from the moment a pair of hikers found him foraging for himself in Ramapo Mountain State Forest 24 years ago. Now over 40, he’s had experience as both a lost boy and a private investigator. That makes him an obvious person to help when his godson, Sweet Water High School student Matthew Crimstein, expresses concern to his grandmother, attorney Hester Crimstein, that his bullied classmate Naomi Pine has gone missing. Matthew doesn’t really want anyone to help. He doesn’t even want anyone to notice his agitation. But Hester, taking the time from her criminal defense of financial consultant Simon Greene (Run Away, 2019) to worm the details out of him, asks Wilde to lend a hand, and sure enough, Wilde, unearthing an unsavory backstory that links Naomi to bullying classmate Crash Maynard, whose TV producer father, Dash Maynard, is close friends with reality TV star–turned–presidential hopeful Rusty Eggers, finds Naomi hale and hearty. Everything’s hunky-dory for one week, and then she disappears again. And this time, so does Crash after a brief visit to Matthew in which he tearfully confesses his guilt about the bad stuff he did to Naomi. This second disappearance veers into more obviously criminal territory with the arrival of a ransom note that demands, not money, but the allegedly incriminating videotapes of Rusty Eggers that Dash and Delia Maynard have had squirreled away for 30 years. The tapes link Rusty to a forgotten and forgettable homicide and add a paranoid new ripped-from-the-headlines dimension to the author’s formidable range. Readers who can tune out all the subplots will find the kidnappers easy to spot, but Coben finds room for three climactic surprises, one of them a honey.

Now that Coben’s added politics to his heady brew, expect sex and religion to join the mix.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4814-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

THE SILENT PATIENT

A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

more