Loose pacing and improbabilities mar a sometimes-stirring story of women fighting back.

SURVIVAL INSTINCTS

When a young girl, her mother, and her grandmother are kidnapped, secrets come to the surface as they fight to escape.

Single mother Anne, a therapist, has always been close to her daughter, Thea. But now, not long after the two moved from a small town to a lovely new house in Burlington, Vermont, the 12-year-old has turned surly and uncommunicative. Anne prescribes herself a weekend getaway with Thea and Rose, a warmhearted bakery owner who is Anne’s mom and Thea’s beloved “Mimi.” But when they go out for a short hike in a remote (read: no cell signal) park on a bitterly cold day, the three are abducted by a stranger, who takes them at gunpoint to an isolated cabin. Thea was badly injured when he attacked them, the temperature is plummeting, their captor’s intentions are mysterious but clearly not kind, and they must rely on each other. Point of view changes with each chapter, moving among Anne, Thea, Rose, and the nameless man. Each character’s past comes into play, notably Anne’s marriage to Thea’s abusive father, although all of them have dark secrets. Some of the backstories contain crucial revelations—Rose is a lot steelier than she looks—but sometimes they go on at such length that the tension of the abduction sags. Thrillers often hinge on coincidence and improbable circumstances, but this one strains credulity with some, such as an unusual medical condition revealed late in the plot. Waite wrote a successful memoir, A Beautiful, Terrible Thing (2017), about her marriage to a con man, and that experience resonates in this novel. But awkward prose and structural weaknesses make it less than compelling.

Loose pacing and improbabilities mar a sometimes-stirring story of women fighting back.

Pub Date: July 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4583-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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Crave chills and thrills but don’t have time for a King epic? This will do the job before bedtime. Not that you’ll sleep.

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LATER

Horrormeister King follows a boy’s journey from childhood to adolescence among the dead—and their even creepier living counterparts.

Jamie Conklin sees dead people. Not for very long—they fade away after a week or so—but during that time he can talk to them, ask them questions, and compel them to answer truthfully. His uncanny gift at first seems utterly unrelated to his mother Tia’s work as a literary agent, but the links become disturbingly clear when her star client, Regis Thomas, dies shortly after starting work on the newest entry in his bestselling Roanoke Saga, and Tia and her lover, NYPD Detective Liz Dutton, drive Jamie out to Cobblestone Cottage to encourage the late author to dictate an outline of his latest page-turner so that Tia, who’s fallen on hard times, can write it in his name instead of returning his advance and her cut. Now that she’s seen what Jamie can do, Liz takes it on herself to arrange an interview in which Jamie will ask Kenneth Therriault, a serial bomber who’s just killed himself, where he’s stowed his latest explosive device before it can explode posthumously. His post-mortem encounter with Therriault exacts a high price on Jamie, who now finds himself more haunted than ever, though he never gives up on the everyday experiences in which King roots all his nightmares.

Crave chills and thrills but don’t have time for a King epic? This will do the job before bedtime. Not that you’ll sleep.

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7890-9649-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Hard Case Crime

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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Densely plotted and replete with incident if you can overlook the insufferable narrator.

WIN

Memo to fans who’ve longed for Windsor Horne Lockwood III, the moneyed, omnicompetent buddy of sports agent Myron Bolitar, to snag a starring role of his own: Beware what you wish for.

Nothing would connect privileged Win with the murder of the reclusive tenant of an exclusive Upper West Side building if the police hadn’t found a painting inside Ry Strauss’ apartment—a Vermeer belonging to Win’s family that was stolen long ago while on loan to Haverford College—along with a monogrammed suitcase belonging to Win himself. The two discoveries tie Win not only to the murder, but to the Jane Street Six, a group of student activists Strauss led even longer ago. The Six’s most notoriously subversive action, the bombing of an empty building in 1973, left several innocents accidentally dead and the law determined to track down the perps. But except for Vanessa Hogan, whom Billy Rowan tearfully visited soon after the bombing to beg her forgiveness for his role in bringing about the death of her son, no one’s seen hide nor hair of the Six ever since. The roots of the outrage go even deeper for Win, whose uncle, Aldrich Powers Lockwood, was killed and whose cousin, Patricia, to whom he’d given that suitcase, was one of 10 women kidnapped, imprisoned, and raped in an unsolved crime. These meaty complications are duly unfolded, and gobs of cash thrown at them, by the ludicrously preening, self-infatuated Win, who announces, “It’s good to be me,” and “I can be charming when I want to be.” As if.

Densely plotted and replete with incident if you can overlook the insufferable narrator.

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4821-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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