A taut and suspenseful tale on the ocean.

FURIOUS

SAILING INTO TERROR

In this debut thriller, a woman has nowhere to run when she’s stuck on a yacht at sea with her rabid husband.

Following the death of her infant daughter, Dagny Steele grapples with depression for six months. Her husband, Brad Coolidge, believing they both need to get away, plans a monthlong yacht excursion. They leave their Massachusetts home for Bali, where they set sail. Brad, with more nautical experience, is the captain, and for a while, it’s smooth sailing. But then the couple start having trouble. Brad is sometimes frighteningly aggressive with Dagny, who also has reason to suspect he’s keeping secrets, like an affair. These problems only exacerbate adversities on the water, from monsoons and trailing sharks to the possibility of pirates. Worst of all, Brad has been sick from the start, and his condition is deteriorating. Dagny is certain it stems from a bat bite he received in Bali, but Brad stubbornly refuses treatment and doesn’t want to bring the yacht to port. When his ailment becomes a likely case of furious rabies, Brad is incoherent, violent, and potentially lethal. Dagny will have to fight him to make it safely ashore. Higgins’ story is fraught with tension. Even before Brad’s sickness worsens, there are nerve-wracking moments, like a ship that may be following the yacht. All of readers’ sympathies will go to Dagny, who has a fear of water due to a family tragedy. In contrast, Brad is condescending as well as spiteful when Dagny denies him sex. He’s also utterly terrifying when showing rabies symptoms. The author writes concise, white-knuckle scenes as Dagny wisely hides from her husband: “Brad stood in the berth doorway, his fists balled, and his hair matted with sweat. He stared into the empty cabin and cocked his head, as if he sensed me nearby.” The story culminates in an unforgettable final act.

A taut and suspenseful tale on the ocean. (dedication, acknowledgements)

Pub Date: May 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-944715-96-0

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2021

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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A lackluster and underdeveloped story.

INVISIBLE GIRL

The disappearance of a teenage girl disrupts the lives of her former therapist, his family, and a lonely neighbor.

Seventeen-year-old Saffyre Maddox has been in therapy with Roan Fours, a child psychologist, for three years for self-harming after the deaths of her parents. When Roan suggests Saffyre is ready to move on, she feels betrayed and begins following Roan and spying on his wife, Cate, and two teenage children. She learns Roan is having an affair but also that multiple sexual assaults are taking place in his neighborhood. When Saffyre disappears after her blood is found by the apartments across the street from Roan’s house, Owen Pick, one of Roan and Cate’s neighbors, is arrested and jailed based on his history of visiting incel websites after having been placed on leave from his job following sexual misconduct complaints. At the same time, Cate becomes suspicious of Roan’s lies and where their son, Josh, is sneaking out to. Jewell’s latest domestic thriller features an array of characters set in a posh London neighborhood but struggles to create any real tension regarding Saffyre’s disappearance. The themes of sexual assault and incel culture are only marginally developed despite the key part each plays in the story. As such, even with these subjects, Jewell's latest is not nearly as dark as her earlier novels. This might be a welcome change if the characters had emotional depth or unique narrative voices, but they too are only superficially realized.

A lackluster and underdeveloped story.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982137-33-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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