Electrifying, ambitious, and crushingly beautiful.

THE DISTANT DEAD

Lonely, broken people in a dead-end town are forced to confront the fragility of life and relationships in the aftermath of a horrific death.

A young boy, Sal Prentiss, discovers a burned corpse in the lonely hills of a small Nevada town, soon revealed to be that of Adam Merkel, the middle school math teacher, a new arrival who came—and died—carrying a lot of secrets. Though few mourn his passing, nearly everyone in town seems to be struggling with their own frustrations and losses, from Nora Wheaton, the history teacher who tends her ailing father, unable to confront him about his role in her brother’s death years ago, to Sal, who lost his mother to a drug overdose the year before. As each one makes choices that will direct the courses of their own lives and those of so many others, they also work to find out more about Adam’s death and what events had brought him to their town: the intersections of the lives that led to his death. Playing out against the barren landscape of a struggling town, all this drama is worthy of a Greek tragedy, and there is also something tragic in the scope and depth of the characters' hubris and personal struggles. Young clearly has a gift for crafting complex, flawed protagonists and creating both empathy and understanding for them, but it takes a true master to also build empathy for minor characters, who would be so easy to leave in two dimensions. When a middle school bully, in teasing a teacher, becomes the target of that teacher’s anger, the way Young reveals the root of the boy's cruelty, and vulnerability, suddenly reverses everything we thought we knew. And this small example, magnified, represents the brilliance of the novel: It is at heart about the timelessness of human curiosity, the eternal possibility of forgiveness, and the everyday miracle of survival.

Electrifying, ambitious, and crushingly beautiful.

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-269081-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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A rousing legal thriller that’s also an acute study of female victimization and male privilege.

THE STOLEN HOURS

A law clerk still battling demons from her past must rise to dizzying heights in preparing a case against a serial sex killer.

Lila Nash has never truly recovered from her rape when she was 18. She’s cut herself, tried to kill herself, spent years in therapy, powered her way through law school, and landed a plum entry-level job with the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office despite the fact that Frank Dovey, the new prosecutor, has hated Lila ever since she and her law school mentor, professor Boady Sanden, embarrassed him in court. Now Andi Fitch, the aggressive prosecutor to whom Dovey has assigned Lila as an assistant in the serene confidence that she’ll fail, presses her to make the case against wedding photographer Gavin Spencer, who’s accused of assaulting and nearly killing bridesmaid Sadie Vauk. Spencer, a serial predator who plans and executes his murderous assaults meticulously and has a special gift for seeing around curves and destroying the evidence that might incriminate him, is a ruthless antagonist. As Eskens demonstrates, however, he’s cut from the same cloth as Frank Dovey, whose bloodless campaign against Lila is every bit as unscrupulous. Even readers who predict the tale’s biggest twist before it arrives will still have the breath knocked out of them by the surprises that follow. And they’ll all cheer when fragile Lila finally gains the strength to stand up to the oppressors in her life and wrestle it back from them.

A rousing legal thriller that’s also an acute study of female victimization and male privilege.

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-31670-349-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Mulholland Books/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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