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BEE CONSPIRACY

A seriously fun ecoterrorism thriller.

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In Boito’s novel, a scientist and a cop team up to investigate an unusual bee-related death that turns out to be connected to a much larger scheme.

Special Agent Kelso Bagley is an entomologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who’s recently been disciplined for his unorthodox arrest of an Arizona butterfly thief. Det. John Alan “Duke” Wayne is a middle-aged Los Angeles police detective on administrative leave after stepping out of a bar and pursuing a criminal in a high-speed chase. Kelso’s fastidious and naïve, and Duke’s flighty and worldly. They get called to a scene where Howard Skulberry, a UCLA entomologist, died after honeybees stung him hundreds of times. Duke’s just happy to be out in the field again, even if this death is obviously accidental. Kelso, however, suspects foul play, and he’s right: It’s connected to villainous Sage Chemical CEO Gordon Lund’s diabolical plan. A missing piece of technology holds the key to his scheme, and as Lund’s henchman Albert Fossil tries to track it down, he leaves bodies in his wake. Meanwhile, more angry bees are loosed upon the city. In cinematic fashion, Boito adds helicopter battles, a pit of squirming deadly insects, and many, many more agitated bees, which throw the city into panic. When the going gets rough, will Kelso and Duke have learned enough from each other to save the day? This thriller’s narrative is not especially deep, but neither is a bee sting, and both are certainly efficient and effective. Boito’s writing is quick and agile throughout, and Kelso’s object lessons in using nature to solve nature’s problems creates moments that are both comical and moving, as when he uses his expertise to solve a problem that Duke’s 31-year-old daughter, Beryl, is having with her rose bushes: “Kelso, just because I’m interested in what you do doesn’t mean I share your enthusiasm for flies,” Beryl says, before grinning broadly at his solution. The author conjures up a fine supporting cast, as well, including bee venom cosmetologist Alora Maxwell, an indecisive mayor, and a police detective who’s grateful that Kelso stopped him from eating even more bug-infested cereal.

A seriously fun ecoterrorism thriller.

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2023

ISBN: 9798215437209

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Ideafeast Books

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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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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