by Denise Mina ‧ RELEASE DATE: Aug. 18, 2020
A bold and bracing twist on the fallen-woman-as-victim story.
Finding out about the long-ago murder of her teenage mother fills a woman’s life with terror in this riveting story.
The latest from the prolific Mina is a stand-alone novel. Glasgow doctor Margo Dunlop is grieving the death of her adoptive mother and the breakup of her relationship with the eccentric but affable Joe when she learns she is pregnant. She goes in search of her biological mother and drops right into a nightmare. Months after Margo’s birth and adoption, her mother was brutally murdered. Susan Brodie was a 19-year-old sex worker and former junkie, making her one of the “less dead” of the title, victims the police shrug off as disposable. Margo hears the grisly story when she meets her aunt, Nikki, a survivor of the same desperate circumstances that killed her sister. Nikki might be sober now, but she still has an addict’s deviousness. She is also sure she knows who murdered Susan—a corrupt cop named Martin McPhail—and she urges Margo, who has the money and status Nikki lacks, to help bring him down. The killer, Nikki says, still sends her threatening letters with objects related to Susan’s murder. Margo has barely begun to absorb this disturbing information when she starts getting such letters herself. As she struggles to figure out whom to trust, she’s also dealing with the nasty breakup between her best friend, flighty Lilah, and her obsessive ex, Richard, who is Joe’s brother. Margo meets Jack Robertson, a slickly charming true-crime writer, and Diane Gallagher, an impressive retired police detective, who both know more about Susan’s death than they’re saying. Mina is matchless at building suspicion and creeping dread. Susan might have been a victim, but the novel is filled with strong, resourceful women who won’t let her life and death render her “less."A bold and bracing twist on the fallen-woman-as-victim story.
Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020
Page Count: 336
Publisher: Mulholland Books/Little, Brown
Review Posted Online: June 15, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020
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by Max Brooks ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 16, 2020
A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.
Awards & Accolades
New York Times Bestseller
Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).
A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.
Pub Date: June 16, 2020
Page Count: 304
Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine
Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020
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BOOK TO SCREEN
by Stephen King ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 5, 2023
Loyal King stans may disagree, but this is a snooze.
A much-beloved author gives a favorite recurring character her own novel.
Holly Gibney made her first appearance in print with a small role in Mr. Mercedes (2014). She played a larger role in The Outsider (2018). And she was the central character in If It Bleeds, a novella in the 2020 collection of the same name. King has said that the character “stole his heart.” Readers adore her, too. One way to look at this book is as several hundred pages of fan service. King offers a lot of callbacks to these earlier works that are undoubtedly a treat for his most loyal devotees. That these easter eggs are meaningless and even befuddling to new readers might make sense in terms of costs and benefits. King isn’t exactly an author desperate to grow his audience; pleasing the people who keep him at the top of the bestseller lists is probably a smart strategy, and this writer achieved the kind of status that whatever he writes is going to be published. Having said all that, it’s possible that even his hardcore fans might find this story a bit slow. There are also issues in terms of style. Much of the language King uses and the cultural references he drops feel a bit creaky. The word slacks occurs with distracting frequency. King uses the phrase keeping it on the down-low in a way that suggests he probably doesn’t understand how this phrase is currently used—and has been used for quite a while. But the biggest problem is that this narrative is framed as a mystery without delivering the pleasures of a mystery. The reader knows who the bad guys are from the start. This can be an effective storytelling device, but in this case, waiting for the private investigator heroine to get to where the reader is at the beginning of the story feels interminable.Loyal King stans may disagree, but this is a snooze.
Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023
Page Count: 464
Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023
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