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PERFECT SACRIFICES

From the Perfect Prophet series , Vol. 3

A somber, kinetically charged, character-driven sequel.

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This third installment of Johnson’s Perfect Prophet supernatural thriller series finds family and friends caught in a cult’s web of rituals and retribution.

Devil worshipping death-metal guitarist Alec Lowell left all that behind to become a faith healer. In the same vein, his Satanist half-brother, Lucas, lives a quiet life in a Wisconsin cemetery after leaving a cult. But now cult members want Lucas as a sacrifice for “the Dark One.” When they snatch Ally Reeves, an innocent teen girl, Lucas is convinced it’s to draw him into the open. He rushes to help her, but she isn’t the only person these vicious people have their sights on: It’s not long before others in the half-brothers’ orbit are in jeopardy, including Alec’s ex-wife, Belinda, and their son, Jake, as well as Jake’s girlfriend, Maggie. Lucas isn’t on the best of terms with everyone—as a member of the cult, he once kidnapped Jake “with some deranged notion to repent for his sins.” Nevertheless, they’ll need to rely on one another to stand against a group of merciless killers. As in the series’ previous installments, the story is bleak and violent, sometimes graphically so (“Shein’s abductor pried open his jaw while the female assistant grabbed hold of the tongue with a spring clamp…”). The narrative moves at a blistering pace, dishing out copious twists throughout rather than saving them for the final act. This sequel nudges the spotlight away from the half-brothers and allows the outstanding supporting cast to shine, especially Belinda and Maggie. The supernatural elements are understated; magic is in play but no single character is all powerful (that doesn’t make the villains any less horrifying as they seemingly come out of nowhere). The author deftly integrates pre-existing subplots and character relationships, but readers may want to check out the preceding books first to avoid spoilers. While a fourth installment is possible, this one concludes on a satisfying note.

A somber, kinetically charged, character-driven sequel.

Pub Date: May 17, 2023

ISBN: 9781667890982

Page Count: 388

Publisher: BookBaby

Review Posted Online: April 19, 2023

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MIND GAMES

A touching story of love and grief ends in an epic battle of good versus evil.

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Roberts’ latest may move you to tears, or joy, or dread, or all three.

Every summer, John and Cora Fox visit Cora’s mother, Lucy Lannigan, in Redbud Hollow, Kentucky, leaving their children, 12-year-old Thea and 10-year-old Rem, for a two-week taste of heaven. The children love Grammie Lucy far more than John’s snooty family, which looks down on Cora. Lucy, a healer with deep Appalachian roots, loves animals, cooks the best meals, plays musical instruments, and makes soap and candles for her thriving business. Thea—who’s inherited the psychic abilities passed down through the women of Lucy’s family—has vivid magical dreams, one of which becomes a living nightmare when a psychopath robs and murders John and Cora as Thea watches helplessly. Thea’s description of the killer and her ability to see him in real time help the skeptical police catch Ray Riggs, who goes to prison for life. Although Thea and Rem go on to have a wonderful childhood with Grammie, Thea constantly wages a mental battle with Riggs, who tries to use his own psychic abilities to get into her mind. Over the years, Thea uses her imagination to become a game designer while the more business-minded Rem helps manage her career. Thea eventually builds a house near Lucy, where a newly arrived neighbor is her teen crush, singer-songwriter Tyler Brennan. Tyler has his own issues and is protective of his young son but slowly builds a loving relationship with Thea, whose silence about her abilities leads to a devastating misunderstanding. At first Thea tries to keep Riggs locked out of her mind. As her powers grow, she torments him. Finally, she realizes that she must win this battle and destroy him if she’s ever to have peace.

A touching story of love and grief ends in an epic battle of good versus evil.

Pub Date: May 21, 2024

ISBN: 9781250289698

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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THE SILENT PATIENT

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

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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. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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