An unnerving tale that richly earns its title. By the last chapter, you won’t believe a word the narrator tells you.
A steep dive into the psyche of a man who may or may not have done some truly terrible things.
The first thing Ryodai Kozuka wants you to know is that that’s not his real name; he’s switched identities with someone else so that he can start a new life. Nor did the narrator push his half sister off a cliff when they were children; she fell on her own once he’d taken her into the woods to get her some breathing room from the home in which her father routinely beat their mother. The narrator isn’t a bit like Tsutomu Miyazaki, the Otaku Murderer of four young girls who was executed in 2008, not long after he reported being urged to commit his heinous crimes by a group of Rat Men only he could see. Instead, he’s a former doctor of psychosomatic medicine whose seduction of his vulnerable patient, sex worker Yukari, was entirely therapeutic, helping her recover from the sexual memories her previous physician, Dr. Yoshimi, had implanted in her. Implanted memories, it becomes gradually clear, are at the heart of this searing novella, though it’s not clear whether her treatment by the smilingly unrepentant Yoshimi or the narrator himself, who wonders if he really slept with her after all, is responsible for Yukari’s suicide. Once she’s hanged herself, the narrator vows to avenge himself on Kida and Mamiya, two former clients who showed her a video of herself that he’s convinced is what really drove her to take her life. Working with Wakui, the cafe owner whose budding relationship with Yukari had finally seemed to promise some stability in her life, he captures the two clients and starts messing with their own heads, and vice versa.An unnerving tale that richly earns its title. By the last chapter, you won’t believe a word the narrator tells you.
Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022
Page Count: 264
Publisher: Soho Crime
Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2021
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021
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by Stephen King ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 5, 2023
Loyal King stans may disagree, but this is a snooze.
A much-beloved author gives a favorite recurring character her own novel.
Holly Gibney made her first appearance in print with a small role in Mr. Mercedes (2014). She played a larger role in The Outsider (2018). And she was the central character in If It Bleeds, a novella in the 2020 collection of the same name. King has said that the character “stole his heart.” Readers adore her, too. One way to look at this book is as several hundred pages of fan service. King offers a lot of callbacks to these earlier works that are undoubtedly a treat for his most loyal devotees. That these easter eggs are meaningless and even befuddling to new readers might make sense in terms of costs and benefits. King isn’t exactly an author desperate to grow his audience; pleasing the people who keep him at the top of the bestseller lists is probably a smart strategy, and this writer achieved the kind of status that whatever he writes is going to be published. Having said all that, it’s possible that even his hardcore fans might find this story a bit slow. There are also issues in terms of style. Much of the language King uses and the cultural references he drops feel a bit creaky. The word slacks occurs with distracting frequency. King uses the phrase keeping it on the down-low in a way that suggests he probably doesn’t understand how this phrase is currently used—and has been used for quite a while. But the biggest problem is that this narrative is framed as a mystery without delivering the pleasures of a mystery. The reader knows who the bad guys are from the start. This can be an effective storytelling device, but in this case, waiting for the private investigator heroine to get to where the reader is at the beginning of the story feels interminable.Loyal King stans may disagree, but this is a snooze.
Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023
Page Count: 464
Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023
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by Michael Connelly ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 7, 2023
The most richly accomplished of the brothers’ pairings to date—and given Connelly’s high standards, that’s saying a lot.
Harry Bosch and the Lincoln Lawyer team up to exonerate a woman who’s already served five years for killing her ex-husband.
The evidence against Lucinda Sanz was so overwhelming that she followed the advice of Frank Silver, the B-grade attorney who’d elbowed his way onto her defense, and pleaded no contest to manslaughter to avoid a life sentence for shooting Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Roberto Sanz in the back as he stalked out of her yard after their latest argument. But now that her son, Eric, is 13, old enough to get recruited by local gangs, she wants to be out of stir and at his side. So she writes to Mickey Haller, who asks his half-brother for help. After all his years working for the LAPD, Bosch is adamant about not working for a criminal defendant, even though Haller’s already taken him on as an associate so that he can get access to private health insurance and a UCLA medical trial for an experimental cancer treatment. But the habeas corpus hearing Haller’s aiming for isn’t, strictly speaking, a criminal defense proceeding, and even a cursory examination of the forensic evidence raises Bosch’s hackles. Bolstered by Bosch’s discoveries and a state-of-the-art digital reconstruction of the shooting, Haller heads to court to face Assistant Attorney General Hayden Morris, who has a few tricks up his own sleeve. The endlessly resourceful courtroom back-and-forth is furious in its intensity, although Haller eventually upstages Bosch, Morris, and everyone else in sight. What really stands out here, however, is that Connelly never lets you forget, from his title onward, the life-or-death issues behind every move in the game.The most richly accomplished of the brothers’ pairings to date—and given Connelly’s high standards, that’s saying a lot.
Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023
Page Count: 400
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023
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