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FOREVER

A MEDICAL THRILLER

A persuasive tale of scientific intrigue.

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A professor joins the world of academic espionage to track down stolen genetic research in this science-based thriller sequel.

In his third novel, Cooper brings back characters from his previous novel, Nondisclosure (2019): Academic Brad Parker and university detective Karen Richmond, and the latter is now a senior special agent with the FBI. After helping Richmond solve a sexual assault and murder case on his home campus, Boston Technical Institute, Parker is on sabbatical at Harvard University exploring gene manipulation. To his dismay, however, the FBI wants him to help catch Chinese spies posing as university students. Parker initially dismisses the agents’ claims as bigotry, but agrees to report any suspicious activity. With this premise, Cooper, an academic whose former affiliations include Boston University and Harvard Medical School, sets up a mystery that makes genetic engineering accessible to reader via first-person narration. For instance, during a fundraising dinner, Parker remarks that a potential donor “perked up quickly when Alice [a colleague] started showing our data on telomere length” before asking if “the ends of the chromosomes in your treated mice actually got longer...as if the mice are getting younger?” Using minimal technical terminology and nesting the science within conversation helps the novel seem authoritative without alienating readers. Cooper also uses extended scenes to heighten suspense; for example, while researching, Parker comes across papers concerning “experiments in which old mice were given infusions of blood plasma from young mice—with the result that the performance of the old mice in learning and memory tests significantly improved.” Instead of keeping the pace of the novel consistent by simply summarizing, Cooper ratchets up the tension by teasing out Parker’s discovery of a pivotal clue. Although the mystery plot would have benefited from more red herrings, the novel as a whole comes off as an effective medical mystery.

A persuasive tale of scientific intrigue.

Pub Date: May 15, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 198

Publisher: Maine Authors Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2020

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THE HOUSE ACROSS THE LAKE

A weird, wild ride.

Celebrity scandal and a haunted lake drive the narrative in this bestselling author’s latest serving of subtly ironic suspense.

Sager’s debut, Final Girls (2017), was fun and beautifully crafted. His most recent novels—Home Before Dark (2020) and Survive the Night (2021) —have been fun and a bit rickety. His new novel fits that mold. Narrator Casey Fletcher grew up watching her mother dazzle audiences, and then she became an actor herself. While she never achieves the “America’s sweetheart” status her mother enjoyed, Casey makes a career out of bit parts in movies and on TV and meatier parts onstage. Then the death of her husband sends her into an alcoholic spiral that ends with her getting fired from a Broadway play. When paparazzi document her substance abuse, her mother exiles her to the family retreat in Vermont. Casey has a dry, droll perspective that persists until circumstances overwhelm her, and if you’re getting a Carrie Fisher vibe from Casey Fletcher, that is almost certainly not an accident. Once in Vermont, she passes the time drinking bourbon and watching the former supermodel and the tech mogul who live across the lake through a pair of binoculars. Casey befriends Katherine Royce after rescuing her when she almost drowns and soon concludes that all is not well in Katherine and Tom’s marriage. Then Katherine disappears….It would be unfair to say too much about what happens next, but creepy coincidences start piling up, and eventually, Casey has to face the possibility that maybe some of the eerie legends about Lake Greene might have some truth to them. Sager certainly delivers a lot of twists, and he ventures into what is, for him, new territory. Are there some things that don’t quite add up at the end? Maybe, but asking that question does nothing but spoil a highly entertaining read.

A weird, wild ride.

Pub Date: June 21, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-18319-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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HOME IS WHERE THE BODIES ARE

Answers are hard to come by in this twisting tale designed to trick and delight.

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Three siblings on very different paths learn that their family home may be haunted by secrets.

Eldest daughter Beth is alone with her fading mother as she takes her final breath and says something about Beth’s long-departed brother and sister, who may not have disappeared forever. Beth is still reeling from the loss of her mother when her estranged siblings show up. Michael, the youngest, hasn’t been home since their father’s disappearance seven years ago. In the meantime, he’s outgrown his siblings, trading his share of the family troubles for a high-paying job in San Jose. Nicole, the middle child, has been overpowered by addiction and prioritized tuning out reality over any sense of responsibility, much to Beth’s disgust. Though their mother’s death marks an ending for the family, it’s also a beginning, as the three siblings realize when they find a disturbing videotape among their parents’ belongings. The video, from 1999, sheds suspicion on their father’s disappearance, linking it to a long-unsolved neighborhood mystery. Was it just a series of unfortunate circumstances that broke the family apart, or does something more sinister underlie the sadness they’ve all found in life? In chapters that rotate among the family’s first-person narratives, the siblings take turns digging up stories and secrets in their search for solace.

Answers are hard to come by in this twisting tale designed to trick and delight.

Pub Date: April 30, 2024

ISBN: 9798212182843

Page Count: 270

Publisher: Blackstone

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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