This philosophical mystery will captivate readers thanks to a winning cast and setting.

WHERE YOU WILL DIE

Life and death keep getting in the way of a man attempting to heal in this debut novel.

At the heart of Heath’s mystery is Alan Wright. Residents of Eden Ridge, California, still look askance at fledgling minister Alan, who built his House of the Universal Message there at the urging of his friend and loyal parishioner Ruth MacKenzie. Alan is also the person who discovers the murdered Ruth in her antiques shop when he stops by to pick up a mystery gift that she promised him (“A pool of blood, black after hours in the open air, formed an ugly halo around her paper-white hair”). Ruth’s death hits Alan particularly hard, as he is still recovering from the loss of his wife, Patricia, in an auto accident two years prior. He decides he owes it to Ruth to investigate her murder, much to the annoyance of the local police chief. The Little Red Hens, a group of civically minded women that Ruth led, decide to help Alan. Alan determines that his gift from Ruth was to have been a rare 1612 Bible, which disappeared from her safe on the night she was killed. Alan doesn’t believe that the suspect who was caught fencing items from Ruth’s shop murdered her. He maintains the theft of the Bible increases the suspect pool, and he puts himself and those around him in danger as a result. In this series opener, Heath makes very few missteps. The author offers likable characters, starting with Alan, a man of mystery seeking to overcome his personal tragedy while standing up for people in his adopted hometown even though many have not embraced him. His Greek chorus is the Little Red Hens, some of whom fancy themselves as the town’s version of Jessica Fletcher. Heath’s villains are too obvious, but the reveal is enjoyable nevertheless. Even the former Gold Rush town of Eden Ridge becomes a character. Despite the book’s 376 pages, the narrative flies along, and the author will successfully keep readers guessing about upcoming surprises. This well-handled introduction of Heath’s reluctant hero Alan and his sidekicks bodes well for future volumes.

This philosophical mystery will captivate readers thanks to a winning cast and setting.

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2022

ISBN: 979-8-9866204-0-4

Page Count: 495

Publisher: Nine Pines Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2022

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A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

FAIRY TALE

Narnia on the Penobscot: a grand, and naturally strange, entertainment from the ever prolific King.

What’s a person to do when sheltering from Covid? In King’s case, write something to entertain himself while reflecting on what was going on in the world outside—ravaged cities, contentious politics, uncertainty. King’s yarn begins in a world that’s recognizably ours, and with a familiar trope: A young woman, out to buy fried chicken, is mashed by a runaway plumber’s van, sending her husband into an alcoholic tailspin and her son into a preadolescent funk, driven “bugfuck” by a father who “was always trying to apologize.” The son makes good by rescuing an elderly neighbor who’s fallen off a ladder, though he protests that the man’s equally elderly German shepherd, Radar, was the true hero. Whatever the case, Mr. Bowditch has an improbable trove of gold in his Bates Motel of a home, and its origin seems to lie in a shed behind the house, one that Mr. Bowditch warns the boy away from: “ ‘Don’t go in there,’ he said. ‘You may in time, but for now don’t even think of it.’ ” It’s not Pennywise who awaits in the underworld behind the shed door, but there’s plenty that’s weird and unexpected, including a woman, Dora, whose “skin was slate gray and her face was cruelly deformed,” and a whole bunch of people—well, sort of people, anyway—who’d like nothing better than to bring their special brand of evil up to our world’s surface. King’s young protagonist, Charlie Reade, is resourceful beyond his years, but it helps that the old dog gains some of its youthful vigor in the depths below. King delivers a more or less traditional fable that includes a knowing nod: “I think I know what you want,” Charlie tells the reader, "and now you have it”—namely, a happy ending but with a suitably sardonic wink.

A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66800-217-9

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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REMINDERS OF HIM

After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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