Like running up a spiral staircase—you might see where it’s going, but the twists will leave you dizzy.

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LETHAL CURE

In Apseloff’s (Overdose, 2013, etc.) medical thriller, a doctor finds that recent strange events, such as his inability to remember an entire day, connect to his all-expenses-paid trip to Italy.

Dr. Jake Warner would much rather forget Alicia. She walked into the emergency room, her foot severed, with a gun and her dead father’s diary in her handbag. He plans to use psychiatrist Dr. Abrams’ “memory ablation,” which was used elsewhere to wipe a patient’s memory of watching his wife bleed to death from a car accident. When Jake wins a sweepstakes for a European vacation—strangely, it’s courtesy of a grocery store chain called Colossus—it sounds too good to be true. Maybe it is. He starts seeing a correlation between what happened to Lyle, Alicia’s father, who couldn’t remember 10 years of his life, and his own new situation, starting with Colossus’ peculiar “rules,” including limited communication with the outside world. The book moves forward with impressive momentum: Jake, a resident, moves from his ER rotation to the psych ward; he’s only there for a week before asking for two weeks off and flying to Milan. The story piles on the questions, from why Alicia was carrying a gun to why Charlotte, the British model Jake meets on the plane, seems a little too interested in him. Jake meets another woman, this one an American, Tykeria, and he’s smitten; their romance is coupled with the intrigue of solving the mystery of Lyle’s diary, in which he detailed dreams that seem to be coded interpretations of his lost memories. Amid the abundance of plot twists, the story features a number of unnerving moments, including Charlotte’s obsession over Jake, a stranger trying to access Tykeria’s hotel door, Tykeria and Jake’s thinking that they’re being followed, and more than one seemingly inexplicable death. Apseloff unravels the surprises one, maybe two, at a time and keeps everything from becoming a jumbled mess. By the end, most but not all of the questions are resolved, with a coda that readers, unlike Lyle, won’t forget.

Like running up a spiral staircase—you might see where it’s going, but the twists will leave you dizzy.

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2013

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 353

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2014

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Now that Coben’s added politics to his heady brew, expect sex and religion to join the mix.

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THE BOY FROM THE WOODS

Coben’s latest darkest-suburbs thriller sets a decidedly offbeat detective on the trail of a crime with overtones unmistakably redolent of once and future presidential elections.

Wilde is called Wilde because nobody’s known his real name from the moment a pair of hikers found him foraging for himself in Ramapo Mountain State Forest 24 years ago. Now over 40, he’s had experience as both a lost boy and a private investigator. That makes him an obvious person to help when his godson, Sweet Water High School student Matthew Crimstein, expresses concern to his grandmother, attorney Hester Crimstein, that his bullied classmate Naomi Pine has gone missing. Matthew doesn’t really want anyone to help. He doesn’t even want anyone to notice his agitation. But Hester, taking the time from her criminal defense of financial consultant Simon Greene (Run Away, 2019) to worm the details out of him, asks Wilde to lend a hand, and sure enough, Wilde, unearthing an unsavory backstory that links Naomi to bullying classmate Crash Maynard, whose TV producer father, Dash Maynard, is close friends with reality TV star–turned–presidential hopeful Rusty Eggers, finds Naomi hale and hearty. Everything’s hunky-dory for one week, and then she disappears again. And this time, so does Crash after a brief visit to Matthew in which he tearfully confesses his guilt about the bad stuff he did to Naomi. This second disappearance veers into more obviously criminal territory with the arrival of a ransom note that demands, not money, but the allegedly incriminating videotapes of Rusty Eggers that Dash and Delia Maynard have had squirreled away for 30 years. The tapes link Rusty to a forgotten and forgettable homicide and add a paranoid new ripped-from-the-headlines dimension to the author’s formidable range. Readers who can tune out all the subplots will find the kidnappers easy to spot, but Coben finds room for three climactic surprises, one of them a honey.

Now that Coben’s added politics to his heady brew, expect sex and religion to join the mix.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4814-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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