This uneven second novel offers fine details and character study, but it occasionally falls prey to overly ambitious...

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COME IN AND COVER ME

After the well-received The Well and the Mine (2009)Phillips’ second novel tackles ghosts, both real and metaphorical, on an archaeological dig in New Mexico.

Ren’s defining characteristic is not that she is a successful archaeologist or that she is the curator of pre-Columbian artifacts at a New Mexico museum. It is that she sees ghosts. Most frequently she sees the ghost of her brother Scott, dead from a car accident when she was a child 25 years ago. She also sees glimpses of people while on digs—people who lived 1,000 years ago and re-inhabit excavation sites, giving her the (professionally advantageous) opportunity to see brief snapshots of life as it was. Now Ren might have found the thing she’s been looking for—additional pottery from an ancient Puebloan (popularly called the Anasazi) she calls the Artist, whose extraordinary pottery she found years ago, but no more since. On site is fellow archaeologist Silas Cooper, smart and a little in awe of what he thinks of as Ren’s “intuition” about the artifacts they uncover. Little does he know that Ren’s artist, Lynay, is appearing on site along with her mother-in-law Non. The two ghosts seem vaguely aware of Ren as she and Silas uncover new sights and burial chambers, uncovering pots Lynay made. The narrative dips into the lives of Lynay and Non, a parrot handler, as Ren “sees” their lives unfold. In the less distant past Ren’s happy childhood before Scott died, and the shattered life she lived with her parents, who became kind of living ghosts, seems to cast a dark shadow over the burgeoning romance she has begun with Silas. The secret of all these ghosts, Lynay, Scott and the memories of happier times, make Ren almost unreachable. Unfortunately, these disparate threads vie for prominence, making the relationship between Ren and Silas less important than it needs to be for the end to resonate.

This uneven second novel offers fine details and character study, but it occasionally falls prey to overly ambitious plotting.

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59448-844-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2011

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King fans won’t be disappointed, though most will likely prefer the scarier likes of The Shining and It.

THE INSTITUTE

The master of modern horror returns with a loose-knit parapsychological thriller that touches on territory previously explored in Firestarter and Carrie.

Tim Jamieson is a man emphatically not in a hurry. As King’s (The Outsider, 2018, etc.) latest opens, he’s bargaining with a flight attendant to sell his seat on an overbooked run from Tampa to New York. His pockets full, he sticks out his thumb and winds up in the backwater South Carolina town of DuPray (should we hear echoes of “pray”? Or “depraved”?). Turns out he’s a decorated cop, good at his job and at reading others (“You ought to go see Doc Roper,” he tells a local. “There are pills that will brighten your attitude”). Shift the scene to Minneapolis, where young Luke Ellis, precociously brilliant, has been kidnapped by a crack extraction team, his parents brutally murdered so that it looks as if he did it. Luke is spirited off to Maine—this is King, so it’s got to be Maine—and a secret shadow-government lab where similarly conscripted paranormally blessed kids, psychokinetic and telepathic, are made to endure the Skinnerian pain-and-reward methods of the evil Mrs. Sigsby. How to bring the stories of Tim and Luke together? King has never minded detours into the unlikely, but for this one, disbelief must be extra-willingly suspended. In the end, their forces joined, the two and their redneck allies battle the sophisticated secret agents of The Institute in a bloodbath of flying bullets and beams of mental energy (“You’re in the south now, Annie had told these gunned-up interlopers. She had an idea they were about to find out just how true that was"). It’s not King at his best, but he plays on current themes of conspiracy theory, child abuse, the occult, and Deep State malevolence while getting in digs at the current occupant of the White House, to say nothing of shadowy evil masterminds with lisps.

King fans won’t be disappointed, though most will likely prefer the scarier likes of The Shining and It.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9821-1056-7

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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This riveting Gothic thriller explores the limits of love, guilt, and punishment.

THE SHAPE OF NIGHT

Running away from the memory of a New Year’s Eve party gone terribly wrong, food writer Ava Collette escapes Boston for a remote Maine village only to face a haunted house and a murder investigation.

Bestselling author of the Rizzoli & Isles series, Gerritsen (I Know a Secret, 2017, etc.) returns with a spellbinding thriller. The focus stays tightly on the experience of the potential victim, Ava, which enables Gerritsen to spin a tight web. Entangled in her own guilt, Ava isolates herself further and further, avoiding calls from her sister and living alone in the ominous Brodie’s Watch mansion, named for its builder, a shipping master lost to sea more than a hundred years ago. Although Brodie’s Watch initially frightens Ava, the moment she steps over the threshold, she feels inexplicably welcomed. Indeed, she is most welcome, as the shadows in her bedroom coalesce into the shape of a man, a man who may well be the ghost of Capt. Brodie. He stalks the house most nights, seducing Ava into not only the passions of love, but also atonement through punishment meted out for her sins. And so Gerritsen shifts a murder mystery into a Gothic thriller, replete with an unsteady widow’s walk, secret alcove, strange smells, ominous sensations, and the ghost. Even the prologue echoes the dream of Manderley from Du Maurier’s Rebecca. But then a dead body washes ashore, and the police investigation suggests the dead woman was killed before she hit the water. Fearful that her spectral lover may be a real-life murderer, Ava inquires about Charlotte Nielson, the young woman who rented Brodie’s Watch before her and left in an inexplicable hurry. But Ava’s investigation uncovers a disturbing list of dead women, which the townspeople seem to have spackled over. Who are they protecting?

This riveting Gothic thriller explores the limits of love, guilt, and punishment.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2095-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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