One prays that this genius will write the great novel he has in him, something like A Death in the Family or The Violent...



After last year’s Odd Thomas, well-shaped but less than gripping, the amazing Koontz hits some brilliantly stylish pages, but just some, those among his best since 1995’s Intensity.

A winner, yes, many will think, especially after its superb opening that will keep many deeply riveted for the distance. But as one bloody horror piles onto another, others might ask: Do I really want to read this? At which point finishing the last half becomes a slog through strongly chiseled details, all the more disheartening because so well done. Molly and Neil live high up on California’s San Bernardino Mountains near the town of Black Lake. She’s 28, has published four well-received novels that went nowhere. Her mother wrote even better novels but died of cancer at 30. Neil is a lapsed priest turned first-rate cabinetmaker. One night a thunderous Niagara of rain hits their roof, rain so heavy that it drives coyotes onto their porch. This is a supernatural rain, luminous, scented with varied fragrances, including semen. On TV they see dozens of gigantic waterspouts forming on every ocean, global cities collapsing. Strange black figures dart about the landscape. Power fails. Radio is poor, darkness visible. Molly feels something colossal flying above the rain clouds, and it doesn’t take long for them to accept that ETs are wiping out humankind. They go to Black Lake to join neighbors in fighting off the ETs, but they’re overwhelming—and ghastly in their killing. For once, Koontz needn’t introduce a serial killer or child murderer into his narrative—but does anyway, in Molly’s father. In any case, the second half groans with messy killings as Molly and Neil save children. Molly’s face-to-face with the first ET is delayed until the last few pages. By then, all interest has faded.

One prays that this genius will write the great novel he has in him, something like A Death in the Family or The Violent Bear It Away.

Pub Date: May 25, 2004

ISBN: 0-553-80250-X

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2004

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

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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

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


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

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