An easy-reading crime novel about real and manufactured scandals.

FALSE LIGHT

A NOVEL

A reporter with a chip on his shoulder plots to bring down a powerful media predator in Dezenhall’s latest novel.

Investigative reporter Sanford “Fuse” Petty is a hopeless Luddite, eschewing not only iPhones and social media, but even elevators and ATMs. He’s a man behind the times, and, as his nickname implies, he’s got a bit of a temper. Forced to take a leave of absence pending a disciplinary investigation at the paper where he’s worked for decades, Fuse feels embittered and adrift. His old friend Kurt Rossiter comes to him with a problem: Kurt’s daughter, Samantha, has been sexually assaulted by social media star Pacho Craig. Best known for his viral “gotcha” videos, Craig is everything wrong with the new media landscape, where journalists pursue clicks over truth. Rather than go public—Kurt only recently avoided his own #MeToo–style scandal—Fuse recommends an unorthodox solution to get justice. “Takedowns are part of what journalists do,” he explains. “We look at a bad guy’s weakness—a high-profile person’s, that is….People aren’t often punished how we want them to be—or when. We need to find out what he values and find a way to take it from him.” Using his connections in every seedy corner of Washington, D.C., from the drug dealers to the politicians, Fuse sets about getting revenge on Pacho. But is he doing it for Samantha or for himself? As in Dezenhall’s last novel, Glass Jaw (2014), the prose is as caustic and observant as the crusading narrator. The tone is lighter than the premise might suggest, but Dezenhall’s characters are complex, and his treatment of timely issues is more nuanced than one might expect. It’s fun, fast-paced, and full of memorable scoundrels.

An easy-reading crime novel about real and manufactured scandals.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-62-634749-6

Page Count: 343

Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

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If novelists are auditioning to play God, Hilderbrand gets the part.

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GOLDEN GIRL

From the greenroom of the afterlife—make that Benjamin Moore "Parsley Snips" green—a newly dead Nantucket novelist watches life unfold without her.

In her 27th novel, Hilderbrand gives herself an alter ego—beloved beach-novel author Vivian Howe—sends her out for a morning jog, and immediately kills her off. A hit-and-run driver leaves Vivi dead by the side of the road, where her son's best friend discovers her body—or was he responsible for the accident? Vivi doesn't know, nor does she know yet that her daughter Willa is pregnant, or that her daughter Carson is having a terribly ill-advised affair, or that her son, Leo, has a gnawing secret, or that her ex is getting tired of the girl he dumped her for. She will discover all this and more as she watches one last summer on Nantucket play out under the tutelage of Martha, her "Person," who receives her in the boho-chic waiting room of the Beyond. Hermès-scarved Martha explains that Vivi will have three nudges—three chances to change the course of events on Earth and prevent her bereaved loved ones from making life-altering mistakes. She will also get to watch the publication of what will be her last novel, titled Golden Girl, natch, and learn the answers to two questions: Will the secret about her own life she buried in this novel come to light (who cares, really—she's dead now), and will it hit No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list (now there's an interesting question). She'll also get to see that one of her biggest wrongs is posthumously righted and that her kids have learned her most important lesson. As Willa says to Carson, "You know how she treats the characters in her books? She gives them flaws, she portrays them doing horrible things—but the reader loves them anyway. Because Mom loves them. Because they’re human.”

If novelists are auditioning to play God, Hilderbrand gets the part.

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-31642008-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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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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