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POWERLESS

A gripping and thoughtful psychological tale.

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A thriller focuses on a family’s struggle to survive when a small town’s technology abruptly stops working.

At first it seems as if it’s just one car not starting. But soon, all the phones, electricity, radios, and internet suffer a power failure in the town of Harpursville, New York. The residents wonder if the outage has also affected the entire country—or even the whole world. Their theories range from sunspots and electromagnetic pulses to terrorist attacks (“To hear some tell it, the Russians, Chinese, or ISIS would be rolling in to enslave the good people of the US of A any minute”). Kevin Barton thinks the situation is likely temporary, while his wife, Monica, worries about their dwindling food supply. Her fear gnaws at her day and night. Monica becomes concerned about the family’s safety and survival, especially with her daughter’s beautiful best friend, Dina McCray, getting stranded at the Bartons’ house, eating their food, and taking up space. An attempt to walk Dina home goes awry, leaving Kevin feeling humiliated and making the girl’s stay permanent. As time passes and chaos starts to spread, one man steps up to coordinate the town’s response, his organizational approach deemed visionary by many, including Kevin. Then a request is made that tears Monica and Kevin apart, the former growing increasingly paranoid and the latter preparing to do everything he can to save his family. O’Handley’s novel is a tense literary thriller that skillfully examines the line between survival and decency, fear and safety, power and impotence. Kevin is an average man who must deal with a growing feeling of powerlessness throughout the story, while Monica takes the lead early on regarding the family’s safety. Their different psychological reactions to the events taking place send them in opposite directions while the townspeople’s restlessness mushrooms around them, adding further pressure on the family. It’s in the microcosm of the Bartons’ house that the insidious drama of the unknown versus the known plays out and is brilliantly developed until the fitting conclusion.

A gripping and thoughtful psychological tale.

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2022

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 370

Publisher: Breaking Night Press

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2022

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MIND GAMES

A touching story of love and grief ends in an epic battle of good versus evil.

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Roberts’ latest may move you to tears, or joy, or dread, or all three.

Every summer, John and Cora Fox visit Cora’s mother, Lucy Lannigan, in Redbud Hollow, Kentucky, leaving their children, 12-year-old Thea and 10-year-old Rem, for a two-week taste of heaven. The children love Grammie Lucy far more than John’s snooty family, which looks down on Cora. Lucy, a healer with deep Appalachian roots, loves animals, cooks the best meals, plays musical instruments, and makes soap and candles for her thriving business. Thea—who’s inherited the psychic abilities passed down through the women of Lucy’s family—has vivid magical dreams, one of which becomes a living nightmare when a psychopath robs and murders John and Cora as Thea watches helplessly. Thea’s description of the killer and her ability to see him in real time help the skeptical police catch Ray Riggs, who goes to prison for life. Although Thea and Rem go on to have a wonderful childhood with Grammie, Thea constantly wages a mental battle with Riggs, who tries to use his own psychic abilities to get into her mind. Over the years, Thea uses her imagination to become a game designer while the more business-minded Rem helps manage her career. Thea eventually builds a house near Lucy, where a newly arrived neighbor is her teen crush, singer-songwriter Tyler Brennan. Tyler has his own issues and is protective of his young son but slowly builds a loving relationship with Thea, whose silence about her abilities leads to a devastating misunderstanding. At first Thea tries to keep Riggs locked out of her mind. As her powers grow, she torments him. Finally, she realizes that she must win this battle and destroy him if she’s ever to have peace.

A touching story of love and grief ends in an epic battle of good versus evil.

Pub Date: May 21, 2024

ISBN: 9781250289698

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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THE SILENT PATIENT

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

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A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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