Celebrity, addiction, money and deception collide in this exciting debut mystery.

Coldwater

Derailed by addiction, a writer gets the chance to redeem herself in this suspenseful Hollywood thriller.

Brett Tanager had it all. A reporter who became a successful television showrunner with her very first idea, Brett lived with her gorgeous boyfriend and had a wonderful relationship with his daughter, Julia. Brett had just one problem: She couldn’t write without alcohol and drugs. Late one night, after a trip to her dealer, she killed a woman in a hit-and-run. Gould’s debut novel really begins years after Brett’s accident. Having lost everything, she’s now house-sitting in present-day Malibu. She’s standing at the water’s edge, contemplating suicide, when Julia appears. Brett resists the urge to drink while Julia describes how her best friend, Caleigh, the daughter of the Hollywood big shot who produced Brett’s show, has disappeared. Despite her immense wealth, Caleigh was involved in “enjo kosai,” a Japanese variant of prostitution in which older men pay teenage girls large amounts of money for sex. Julia is convinced that, since the show Brett wrote was a police procedural, Brett will be able to find Caleigh. Brett knows she’s not capable of finding anything other than the bottom of a bottle of Glenfiddich, but she goes to find a private investigator’s phone number for Julia. When Brett returns, Julia has vanished. Her disappearance prompts Brett to re-engage with her old Hollywood life—and even start to get clean—to save Julia. But will Brett’s efforts to pull her life together be too little, too late? And will she ever confess to her own crime? A television writer herself, Gould clearly knows Brett’s milieu. Most characters seem plucked from US Weekly: Brad and Angelina copycats Campbell McCauley and Rosalie Bennett; “Internet gossip maven” Jason Ratt; and Nic Ripetti, “go-to investigator for the stars.” The locations are similarly realistic, whether Brett is enduring an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting a few blocks from the beach or making her way through a Hollywood funeral-turned–networking session. Occasionally, an inauthentic or clichéd phrase slows the novel’s forward momentum, as when Brett observes that a doctor’s “brown eyes glinted like jewels offset by clear white,” or when Brett’s desire rises “like embers catching fire.” But those clunky moments are only minor road bumps in Brett’s frenetic, entertaining ride.

Celebrity, addiction, money and deception collide in this exciting debut mystery.

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-0988931244

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Gibraltar Road

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2013

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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DEVOLUTION

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

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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