A labyrinth of plot and character motivations makes for a thoroughly enjoyable novel.

THE SPACE BETWEEN

In Meserve’s (Perfectly Good Crime, 2016, etc.) mystery, a scientist looks for her missing husband but may not like what she finds.

Astronomer Dr. Sarah Mayfield returns from her NASA presentation in D.C. only to discover her husband, Ben, isn’t at their LA home. There’s a chance he worked late at his popular restaurant, Aurora, but no one, including the couple’s 14-year-old son, Zack, knows where Ben is. His legal team is immediately concerned; he was set to testify against his allegedly thieving Aurora partners, who may have wanted to keep him quiet. Detective James Dawson, however, has another theory: Sarah is behind Ben’s disappearance, as she stands to inherit his family fortune and collect on a primo life insurance policy. Sarah, meanwhile, realizes someone has intentionally wiped footage from their home security system. Believing Ben is hiding something, she keeps the system’s hard drive from authorities and asks Aaron, a co-worker at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, to recover the data. Evidence slowly trickles in, from the drive as well as the FBI, which soon joins the case. Unfortunately, none of it disputes the implication that absent Ben is guilty of a recent murder. Meserve churns out a stirring mystery that rarely lets up. The three main theories regarding Ben’s fate, for example, all have merit and aren’t easily debunked. These are complicated by the characters. Sarah, who narrates, is withholding a few details from authorities, like her restrained attraction to Aaron. At the same time, others are concealing info from Sarah. Chiseled prose gleefully weaves the protagonist through bombshells (where did that handgun in the drawer come from?) and dangers (an unknown intruder creeping onto the Mayfields’ property). A later plot turn puts readers ahead of Sarah, but watching her untangle the mystery remains gripping until the end.

A labyrinth of plot and character motivations makes for a thoroughly enjoyable novel.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5039-0140-7

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 23, 2018

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

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THE SILENT PATIENT

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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KILLING FLOOR

From the Jack Reacher series , Vol. 1

Welcome to Margrave, Georgia—but don't get too attached to the townsfolk, who are either in on a giant conspiracy, or hurtling toward violent deaths, or both. There's not much of a welcome for Jack Reacher, a casualty of the Army's peace dividend, who's drifted into town idly looking for traces of a long-dead black jazzman. Not only do the local cops arrest him for murder, but the chief of police turns eyewitness to place him on the scene, even though Reacher was getting on a bus in Tampa at the time. Two surprises follow: The murdered man wasn't the only victim, and he was Reacher's brother Joe, whom he hadn't seen in seven years. So Reacher, who so far hasn't had anything personally against the crooks who set him up for a weekend in the state pen at Warburton, clicks into overdrive. Banking on the help of the only two people in Margrave he can trust—a Harvard-educated chief of detectives who hasn't been on the job long enough to be on the take, and a smart, scrappy officer who's taken him to her bed—he sets out methodically in his brother's footsteps, trying to figure out why his cellmate in Warburton, a panicky banker whose cell-phone number turned up in Joe's shoe, confessed to a murder he obviously didn't commit; trying to figure out why all the out-of- towners on Joe's list of recent contacts were as dead as he was; and trying to stop the local carnage, or at least direct it in more positive ways. Though the testosterone flows as freely as printer's ink, Reacher is an unobtrusively sharp detective in his quieter moments—not that there are many of them to judge by. Despite the crude, tough-naif narration, debut novelist Child serves up a big, rangy plot, menace as palpable as a ticking bomb, and enough battered corpses to make an undertaker grin.

Pub Date: March 17, 1997

ISBN: 0-399-14253-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1997

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