A taut and suspenseful tale on the ocean.



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.


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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It's almost enough to make a person believe in ghosts.


A disturbing household secret has far-reaching consequences in this dark, unusual ghost story.

Mallory Quinn, fresh out of rehab and recovering from a recent tragedy, has taken a job as a nanny for an affluent couple living in the upscale suburb of Spring Brook, New Jersey, when a series of strange events start to make her (and her employers) question her own sanity. Teddy, the precocious and shy 5-year-old boy she's charged with watching, seems to be haunted by a ghost who channels his body to draw pictures that are far too complex and well formed for such a young child. At first, these drawings are rather typical: rabbits, hot air balloons, trees. But then the illustrations take a dark turn, showcasing the details of a gruesome murder; the inclusion of the drawings, which start out as stick figures and grow increasingly more disturbing and sophisticated, brings the reader right into the story. With the help of an attractive young gardener and a psychic neighbor and using only the drawings as clues, Mallory must solve the mystery of the house's grizzly past before it's too late. Rekulak does a great job with character development: Mallory, who narrates in the first person, has an engaging voice; the Maxwells' slightly overbearing parenting style and passive-aggressive quips feel very familiar; and Teddy is so three-dimensional that he sometimes feels like a real child.

It's almost enough to make a person believe in ghosts.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-81934-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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