This promising new writer might borrow from the masters, but he’s primed for loyal fans of his own.

Ghosts of Royston - A Thriller

Dove’s impressive debut is a well-paced thriller with supernatural touches that follows a family in the aftermath of a tragic car accident.

Dove uses a somewhat unconventional format, following two main characters in alternating chapters, designating the intertwining narratives “The Book of Ruthie” and “The Book of Cole.” Ruthie is actually Sophie Danner, a teenage girl kidnapped from the scene of the car accident and taken hostage by a family in a backwater shack. Gabriel, the main heavy, brings Sophie home and tells his mentally disturbed mother, Cora, that Sophie is her daughter Ruthie, believed to have drowned years ago when she was 4. Cole is Sophie’s father, and his first-person chapters cover his search for Sophie and his wife, Natalie, as he’s guided by a force he can’t explain. The characters are vivid, their dialogue fit perfectly to them, each with a unique voice. Sophie is determined, Gabriel terrifying, and Cole’s struggle to retain his sanity is palpable. In some of the early moments, Cora echoes Annie Wilkes, the psychotic nurse from Stephen King’s Misery, a bit too closely, but Dove separates the stories enough that his ultimately feels more like an homage than theft. Armed with a solid premise, Dove knows how to bring it to life. There’s a minor misstep, though, in adding another section as well as another point of view in the final third of the book as the action rises to its peak. Other than that, Dove does a fantastic job of fitting together Sophie’s third-person narrative and Cole’s first-person narrative, heightening the suspense as Sophie deals with the menace of Gabriel and the unhinged Cora, while Cole’s “flashbacks” lead him to solve the mystery of his accident and the disappearance of his family from the scene. Fortunately, Dove uses the possibility of a supernatural connection sparingly enough to keep the story rooted in reality, and he shades the action with occasional humor to color the well-built personalities.

This promising new writer might borrow from the masters, but he’s primed for loyal fans of his own.

Pub Date: April 4, 2013

ISBN: 978-1482043969

Page Count: 266

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2013

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.


Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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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. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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