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DEATH OF THE ICE ANGEL

Mystery readers are in good hands with this well-crafted, character-driven crime novel.

The killer is watching as a vacationing detective decides to investigate an old, unsolved murder in Ceron’s thriller.

When NYPD detective Miles Jordan rents a cabin in the Catskills, his winter vacation plans include “pancakes, beer, and cross-country skiing,” not a homicide cold case. His arrival in a small mountain town, however, coincides with the 25th anniversary of the unsolved murder of Jesse Anne Kelly, a state trooper’s wife. At the request of the victim’s sister—and against the wishes of the victim’s husband, now the town’s police chief—Miles is reluctantly drawn into the case and the lives of those most affected. Miles isn’t the stereotypical supercop: He’s smart and good looking, but at age 38 he’s packing extra pounds, recovering from recent knee surgery, five years out from a mild heart attack, and driven by fierce empathy for victims of violent crime. (The fact that Miles is Black isn’t an issue in his interactions, although the 1950s vibe of a diner he visits does invite his reflection that he wouldn’t have been welcome to eat there during that era.) As tensions mount and the case builds to its deadly conclusion, the author offers up potential suspects with enough misdirection to keep readers second-guessing. Is the police chief’s refusal of Miles’ help due to grief, guilt, or both? How angry was Jesse’s former work colleague, fired from his job for sexual harassment? Then there’s the gifted artist, whose self-destructive descent into alcoholism began shortly after Jesse’s death. Realistic dialogue and clear, descriptive prose propel the narrative; in a derelict shack, broken drywall exposes “pink insulation like guts in an open wound.” The ever-present winter weather reflects the mood and setting, the frigid bleakness (“The icy wind carried the fragrance of cedar and howled like a pack of wolves”) lending poignant significance to the book’s title. This is the third novel in Ceron’s Miles Jordan Mystery Thriller series, following Death of the Saltwater Blonde (2022) and Death in the City of Bridges (2022).

Mystery readers are in good hands with this well-crafted, character-driven crime novel.

Pub Date: March 30, 2024

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Gold Coast Books

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2024

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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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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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