Pure pulp novelettes that are exciting for as long as they last.

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BLOODLESS

DRS’ debut presents two modern pulp-style thriller novelettes in a single package.

With whip-smart dialogue and pointed, purposeful narration, “Hot Midnight” tells the story of Sam, an attractive female college student who’s unknowingly being stalked by a leather-clad madman. This seemingly unstoppable executioner works from the shadows, picking off the men in Sam’s life as he seeks to literally devour the object of his obsession. “Youth Reform” puts the energy of a traditional thriller into worldbuilding, crafting a totalitarian America that sees mild delinquency as a threat, throwing Dakota-Leigh, a pretty Southern gal who just wanted to skip class and smoke a little marijuana, into an Orwellian re-education center. There, she allies herself with Kenneth, a clever, street-smart young man with plans to escape—but he has a past that will soon have her running from more than just an authoritarian regime. Typos and grammatical errors litter both novelettes, which makes their composition feel as rushed as their plots. Both stories rely heavily on the theme of pursuit; “Hot Midnight” has the protagonist unaware of the danger circling her, while “Youth Reform” presents an anxiety-fueled road story as enemies nip at the main characters’ heels. In both, style trumps substance or suspense, with “Hot Midnight” particularly relying on gratuitous, sexualized carnage for titillation and spectacle. The other novelette’s dialogue and narration aren’t as focused, but its modernized anti-youth movement is much more compelling, with the cunning Kenneth’s Elvis-esque hair and presumptuous swagger challenging both his adult oppressors and adulthood itself. Its themes of oppression are reminiscent of those that 1950s pulps themselves faced.

Pure pulp novelettes that are exciting for as long as they last.

Pub Date: March 11, 2013

ISBN: 978-1482743685

Page Count: 88

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2014

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The most over-the-top of Horowitz’s frantically overplotted whodunits to date—and that’s no mean feat.

MOONFLOWER MURDERS

Susan Ryeland, the book editor who retired to Crete after solving the mind-boggling mysteries of Magpie Murders (2017), is enticed to England to try her hand at another Chinese box of a case.

Eight years ago, the wedding weekend of Cecily Treherne and Aiden MacNeil at Branlow Hall, the high-end Suffolk hotel the bride’s parents owned, was ruined by the murder of Frank Parris, a hotel guest and advertising man who just happened to be passing through. Romanian-born maintenance man Stefan Codrescu was promptly convicted of the crime and has been in prison ever since. But Cecily’s recent disappearance shortly after having told her parents she’d become certain Stefan was innocent drives Lawrence and Pauline Treherne to find Susan in Crete, where they offer her 10,000 pounds to solve the mystery again and better. Susan’s the perfect candidate because she worked closely with late author Alan Conway, whose third novel, Atticus Pünd Takes the Case, contained the unspecified evidence that convinced Cecily that Detective Superintendent Richard Locke, now DCS Locke, had made a mistake. Checking into Branlow Hall and interviewing Cecily’s hostile sister, Lisa, and several hotel staffers who were on the scene eight years ago tells Susan all too little. So she turns to Atticus Pünd Takes the Case, whose unabridged reproduction occupies the middle third of Horowitz’s novel, and finds that it offers all too much in the way of possible clues, red herrings, analogies, anagrams, and easter eggs. The novel within a novel is so extensive and absorbing on its own, in fact, that all but the brainiest armchair detectives are likely to find it a serious distraction from the mystery to which it’s supposed to offer the key.

The most over-the-top of Horowitz’s frantically overplotted whodunits to date—and that’s no mean feat.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06295-545-6

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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Vintage King: a pleasure for his many fans and not a bad place to start if you’re new to him.

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IF IT BLEEDS

The master of supernatural disaster returns with four horror-laced novellas.

The protagonist of the title story, Holly Gibney, is by King’s own admission one of his most beloved characters, a “quirky walk-on” who quickly found herself at the center of some very unpleasant goings-on in End of Watch, Mr. Mercedes, and The Outsider. The insect-licious proceedings of the last are revisited, most yuckily, while some of King’s favorite conceits turn up: What happens if the dead are never really dead but instead show up generation after generation, occupying different bodies but most certainly exercising their same old mean-spirited voodoo? It won’t please TV journalists to know that the shape-shifting bad guys in that title story just happen to be on-the-ground reporters who turn up at very ugly disasters—and even cause them, albeit many decades apart. Think Jack Torrance in that photo at the end of The Shining, and you’ve got the general idea. “Only a coincidence, Holly thinks, but a chill shivers through her just the same,” King writes, “and once again she thinks of how there may be forces in this world moving people as they will, like men (and women) on a chessboard.” In the careful-what-you-wish-for department, Rat is one of those meta-referential things King enjoys: There are the usual hallucinatory doings, a destiny-altering rodent, and of course a writer protagonist who makes a deal with the devil for success that he thinks will outsmart the fates. No such luck, of course. Perhaps the most troubling story is the first, which may cause iPhone owners to rethink their purchases. King has gone a far piece from the killer clowns and vampires of old, with his monsters and monstrosities taking on far more quotidian forms—which makes them all the scarier.

Vintage King: a pleasure for his many fans and not a bad place to start if you’re new to him.

Pub Date: April 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3797-7

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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