A road novel with too many detours.



In the second of a projected trilogy, Young’s clairvoyant protagonist investigates the murders of her mother and half sister.

When we met Charlotte Cates in the series opener, Gates of Evangeline (2015), we learned that she was abandoned by her mother, Donna, who disappeared into a haze of drug addiction years ago. Charlotte, a magazine editor, has moved from Manhattan to Texas to live with landscaping entrepreneur Noah, whom she met in Evangeline. She’s pregnant, with an imminent due date, but is still mulling over Noah's marriage proposal. And she’s still plagued by recurring lucid dreams which predict disaster. Shortly after she dreams of a small child wandering in the desert, she learns her mother has been found murdered along with Jasmine, a half sister Charlotte didn’t know she had, in Jasmine’s Tucson apartment. Charlotte and Noah drive to Tucson intending to adopt Jasmine’s 6-year-old daughter, Micky, who turns out to resemble the child in Charlotte's dream. Charlotte learns more about her mother from her lesbian partner, Pam, a police lieutenant. Donna and Pam met in AA, and Donna had become indispensable at Sonora Hope, a nonprofit dedicated to helping impoverished Mexican women. Jasmine was a serial partier who narrowly escaped brushes with the law, thanks in large part to a cop boyfriend, though drugs were found at the murder scene. Road trips to Mexico take up significant space in the book. Charlotte and Noah travel to the Mexican resort where Micky’s father, Ruben, works to find that he is neither a murder suspect nor particularly interested in parenting. Another dream, about a bloody shower stall, and a vision concerning Lety, a Sonora Hope client who committed suicide, twice send Charlotte to the Mexican side of border town Nogales. The stories of the Mexican women, including Lety’s sister Yulissa, who struggles to escape a bleak existence as a landfill scavenger, are more interesting than the main plot. Other complications do not so much present an intriguing puzzle as mislead readers, which is why the ending feels so unexpected and contrived.

A road novel with too many detours.

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-17401-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.


Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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


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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