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THE SPY WHO HATED ME

A JAMES FLYNN ESCAPADE

A deeply funny novel, artfully composed.

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An American psychiatric patient who believes he is a British spy flies to London to save the woman he loves from an evil Russian oligarch in Orkin’s comic thriller.

In the fifth installment of this series, the author returns to the strange but hilarious plight of James Flynn, a patient at a psychiatric institution in Los Angeles. He suffers from delusion—despite growing up in Burbank, California, he believes he is a British agent in His Majesty’s Secret Service and that the hospital that houses him is really a clandestine redoubt providing him with a cover. Despite the inarguable insanity of these beliefs, he is an inexplicably talented man who has in fact become famous for saving the world repeatedly, making him a delightfully complicated hero, drawn with great comic effect. When Caitlyn Valentine (a CIA agent with whom he enjoyed a romantic connection) stops returning his phone calls, he assumes she’s in grave danger and tracks her down to London, accompanied by his psychiatric nurse (aptly named Sancho). He finds Caitlyn posing as a bodyguard for Oleg Ivanov, a nefarious Russian billionaire who owns a lab devoted to creating dangerous computer viruses and who plans to take over the world. This volume in the series is more prone to slapstick humor than its predecessors, as in this exchange between James and Sancho in which James complains about traffic rules in London: “‘Driving on the left feels rather wrong.’ ‘Yeah, but it’s right.’ ‘Right?’ Flynn started to veer. ‘No! Left! Left!’” The inventive premise of the series has lost some of its novelty, and, as a consequence, some of its comic sparkle. Still, James remains a memorable protagonist, one whose principal strength as a faux secret agent might be his mental health issues, which make him profoundly unpredictable. Despite lacking some of the luster of the earlier entries in the series, this stands as an endlessly entertaining novel.

A deeply funny novel, artfully composed.

Pub Date: July 11, 2024

ISBN: 9781685134457

Page Count: 312

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2024

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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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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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