Just the thing for readers who think their own work lives are high-stress drudgery.

Dr. Alex Cross and his wife each pursue an equally monstrous serial predator.

In this corner, the D.C. Metro Police Department, where Cross still serves as a consultant, brings him in to throw light on the murders committed by the Family Man, who breaks into upscale homes and shoots everyone inside: grandparents, parents, children. In this corner, Bree Stone, who’s moved from D.C. Metro to the Bluestone Group, is tasked with keeping everything hush-hush while she investigates a series of explosive charges against fashion queen Frances Duchaine, whom multiple litigants have accused of saddling them with insurmountable debts for plastic surgery she and her close associate Paula Watkins insisted they'd need to make it as models, then forcing them into sexual slavery when they couldn’t repay them. As Bree worms her way into ever darker allegations about Duchaine, the Family Man continues his open season on picture-perfect households. Then editor Suzanne Liu, who’s just been dumped by star true-crime author Thomas Tull, comes to Cross with an incredible story: Tull, whose pitch for a new book on the Family Man earned an eight-figure contract in a closed auction, has actually been killing all those people himself. As usual, Patterson throws everything against the wall to see what sticks until the two cases, either of them complicated enough to sustain an entire volume, eventually collide in a way that’s surprising but ultimately unsatisfying, and his triple cross falls flat.

Just the thing for readers who think their own work lives are high-stress drudgery.

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-49918-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2022


Loyal King stans may disagree, but this is a snooze.

A much-beloved author gives a favorite recurring character her own novel.

Holly Gibney made her first appearance in print with a small role in Mr. Mercedes (2014). She played a larger role in The Outsider (2018). And she was the central character in If It Bleeds, a novella in the 2020 collection of the same name. King has said that the character “stole his heart.” Readers adore her, too. One way to look at this book is as several hundred pages of fan service. King offers a lot of callbacks to these earlier works that are undoubtedly a treat for his most loyal devotees. That these easter eggs are meaningless and even befuddling to new readers might make sense in terms of costs and benefits. King isn’t exactly an author desperate to grow his audience; pleasing the people who keep him at the top of the bestseller lists is probably a smart strategy, and this writer achieved the kind of status that whatever he writes is going to be published. Having said all that, it’s possible that even his hardcore fans might find this story a bit slow. There are also issues in terms of style. Much of the language King uses and the cultural references he drops feel a bit creaky. The word slacks occurs with distracting frequency. King uses the phrase keeping it on the down-low in a way that suggests he probably doesn’t understand how this phrase is currently used—and has been used for quite a while. But the biggest problem is that this narrative is framed as a mystery without delivering the pleasures of a mystery. The reader knows who the bad guys are from the start. This can be an effective storytelling device, but in this case, waiting for the private investigator heroine to get to where the reader is at the beginning of the story feels interminable.

Loyal King stans may disagree, but this is a snooze.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781668016138

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023


A stunning, engaging subversion of the Bundy myth—and the true-crime genre.

This thinly veiled fictionalization of Ted Bundy’s attack on a Florida State University sorority begins with the horror rather than making it the climax.

As president of her sorority, Pamela Schumacher is used to staying up late to deal with paperwork while her sisters are out partying. The night of Jan. 15, 1978, is no different. Jarred awake at 3 a.m. after having fallen asleep with her clothes on, she hears running footsteps and sees a man heading for the front door. He can’t see her in the shadows—a fact that turns out to save her life, rendering her the only eyewitness to a horrible crime and a notorious criminal, “a man who murdered thirty-five women and escaped prison twice.” The novel goes on to follow several alternating timelines: From Pamela’s perspective, it builds from the day of the sorority murders and also follows her return trip to Tallahassee more than 30 years later in response to a mysterious letter. These chapters are interspersed with the 1974 story of Ruth Wachowsky, believed by her girlfriend, Tina Cannon, to have been one of the killer’s earlier victims. Knoll makes an interesting—and powerful—choice not to name Bundy at any point; Pamela asserts that she “vowed to stop using [his name]” because “there isn’t anything exceptionally clever” about him. Choosing not to name him deflates the myth of the monster, of the charmer, of the criminal genius that people often consider Bundy to be. As the title indicates, this novel belongs to the women: the ones killed because they were too kind to reject an “injured” man asking for help; the ones who lost people they loved; the ones who ultimately had to look him in the eye and not let it destroy their lives. There are twin threads of mystery that lead readers through the maze: the rumor of a suppressed confession tape and Ruth’s story. But in the end, it’s the latter that’s so much more important than the former. In this world of true-crime mania, Knoll knows that every choice—and every name—matters.

A stunning, engaging subversion of the Bundy myth—and the true-crime genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2023

ISBN: 9781501153228

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Marysue Rucci Books

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

Close Quickview