A brutal, emotional thriller that earns its stripes.

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TWISTED VENGEANCE

In Bennington’s (Reunion, 2011, etc.) latest supernatural thriller, Detective Rick Burns has spent a lot of years on the Indianapolis police force, but he’s never seen anything like this.

When a man is found gruesomely murdered in his own home, it’s just another case in a two-year streak of unsolved homicides afflicting the Indiana capital. One more case, one more headache for the troubled detective. Without any clues, leads or anything to link the cases together—except for the particularly brutal ways they were carried out—it’s getting to be more than Rick can handle. Propping him up are his father—a retired cop moonlighting as the station’s janitor—and Rick’s plucky sister-in-law, Stella. Together, they form a pretty good support group, or so they think. What they don’t realize is that they’re half of Rick’s problem: Rick promised his late older brother, Roger, that he wouldn’t let Stella remarry a cop; that’s getting to be a problem, seeing as Rick is falling in love with her. And while it’s nice to have Pops nearby for help when the going gets tough, Rick’s dad is just as likely to remind him that his brother was a better detective. Pops has a point; Rick is often willing to let good police work and common sense take a backseat for the sake of dramatic plot twists. Although that unprofessionalism makes it hard to strictly classify the book as a gumshoe novel, it doesn’t make it any less compelling as a mystery—thanks, in particular, to the appearance (and subsequent disappearance) of a young boy. Rick spots the pale, sickly youth at the scene of the latest crime. Driven by the desperation of only having one lead, Rick decides to follow it, no matter where. Bennington’s simple yet forceful style will keep readers guessing as the investigation takes Rick from the clean streets of Circle City to the darkest corners of the human heart. The truth leads Rick to places he never would have expected—and to questions he might not want answered.

A brutal, emotional thriller that earns its stripes.

Pub Date: Nov. 20, 2011

ISBN: 978-1467991063

Page Count: 298

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2012

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Vintage King: a pleasure for his many fans and not a bad place to start if you’re new to him.

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IF IT BLEEDS

The master of supernatural disaster returns with four horror-laced novellas.

The protagonist of the title story, Holly Gibney, is by King’s own admission one of his most beloved characters, a “quirky walk-on” who quickly found herself at the center of some very unpleasant goings-on in End of Watch, Mr. Mercedes, and The Outsider. The insect-licious proceedings of the last are revisited, most yuckily, while some of King’s favorite conceits turn up: What happens if the dead are never really dead but instead show up generation after generation, occupying different bodies but most certainly exercising their same old mean-spirited voodoo? It won’t please TV journalists to know that the shape-shifting bad guys in that title story just happen to be on-the-ground reporters who turn up at very ugly disasters—and even cause them, albeit many decades apart. Think Jack Torrance in that photo at the end of The Shining, and you’ve got the general idea. “Only a coincidence, Holly thinks, but a chill shivers through her just the same,” King writes, “and once again she thinks of how there may be forces in this world moving people as they will, like men (and women) on a chessboard.” In the careful-what-you-wish-for department, Rat is one of those meta-referential things King enjoys: There are the usual hallucinatory doings, a destiny-altering rodent, and of course a writer protagonist who makes a deal with the devil for success that he thinks will outsmart the fates. No such luck, of course. Perhaps the most troubling story is the first, which may cause iPhone owners to rethink their purchases. King has gone a far piece from the killer clowns and vampires of old, with his monsters and monstrosities taking on far more quotidian forms—which makes them all the scarier.

Vintage King: a pleasure for his many fans and not a bad place to start if you’re new to him.

Pub Date: April 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3797-7

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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Fans of gothic classics like Rebecca will be enthralled as long as they don’t mind a heaping dose of all-out horror.

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MEXICAN GOTHIC

Moreno-Garcia offers a terrifying twist on classic gothic horror, set in 1950s Mexico.

Inquisitive 22-year-old socialite and anthropology enthusiast Noemí Taboada adores beautiful clothes and nights on the town in Mexico City with a bevy of handsome suitors, but her carefree existence is cut short when her father shows her a disturbing letter from her cousin Catalina, who recently married fair-haired and blue-eyed Virgil Doyle, who comes from a prominent English mining family that built their now-dwindling fortune on the backs of Indigenous laborers. Catalina lives in High Place, the Doyle family’s crumbling mansion near the former mining town of El Triunfo. In the letter, Catalina begs for Noemí’s help, claiming that she is “bound, threads like iron through my mind and my skin,” and that High Place is “sick with rot, stinks of decay, brims with every single evil and cruel sentiment.” Upon Noemí’s arrival at High Place, she’s struck by the Doyle family’s cool reception of her and their unabashed racism. She's alarmed by the once-vibrant Catalina’s listless state and by the enigmatic Virgil and his ancient, leering father, Howard. Nightmares, hallucinations, and phantasmagoric dreams of golden dust and fleshy bodies plague Noemí, and it becomes apparent that the Doyles haven’t left their blood-soaked legacy behind. Luckily, the brave Noemí is no delicate flower, and she’ll need all her wits about her for the battle ahead. Moreno-Garcia weaves elements of Mexican folklore with themes of decay, sacrifice, and rebirth, casting a dark spell all the way to the visceral and heart-pounding finale.

Fans of gothic classics like Rebecca will be enthralled as long as they don’t mind a heaping dose of all-out horror.

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-62078-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Del Rey

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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