A perceptive, no-nonsense dramatization of a crucial and timely topic.

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A DANGEROUS PROPOSITION

When a female TV producer’s documentary on battered women becomes an exposé of a particular shelter, male studio executives threaten her livelihood in this debut novel.

Years ago, Julianne Sloan left behind a chance at news management and moved to TV programming. Now a producer of Chicago Sizzle, she oversees a staff developing public affairs stories. Since segment producer Tina Beyers is out with the flu, Julianne takes over her story on Horizons, a newly opened shelter for women and their children. One of Horizons’ residents is Elisa Adams, who endured years of abuse from her husband, Peter. She finally made the decision to leave when the couple’s 10-year-old daughter, Kelly, became a victim of Peter’s anger and violence. Julianne interviews women at the shelter, but an even more important story may start with Elisa. Someone at Horizons is ensuring that it’s not a safe haven for Elisa and Kelly—or the other residents. Sadly, Julianne’s plan to expose what’s happening there is met with resistance from her bosses, chiefly Ted Marshall, since evidently the TV studio’s owners helped build the shelter. Determined to finish her documentary and help other abuse sufferers, Julianne quickly realizes that it may come at the expense of her career. Harrison’s absorbing and timely novel shrewdly tackles issues of abuse, which comes in all sorts of ugly colors, including coercion. The danger suggested by the title generally applies to characters other than the protagonist: Elisa is escaping an abusive marriage, while Tina goes undercover at Horizons. But Julianne is oppressed by domineering men at the workplace, a struggle that’s just as potent and relevant. The author deftly balances her narrative with a few respectable males, including cameraman Jake Rossi, Julianne’s confidant and romantic interest (though his current marriage presents a hurdle). But while scene details are clear and precise, lengthy dialogue lessens the impact of fervent remarks. Julianne’s warning to Ted—“I’m fiery enough to bring you up on charges and nasty enough to create a scandal”—is powerful without its accompanying lines, ending with “If I were you, I’d cut my losses and get the hell away from me now.”

A perceptive, no-nonsense dramatization of a crucial and timely topic.

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5320-2474-0

Page Count: 284

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2018

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

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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