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ONE OF US IS DEAD

Sublimely bitchy. What else is there to know?

A salon owner who serves the upper-crust women of Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood recalls the events that led up to the death of one of them.

Once Congressman Bryce Madison has divorced Shannon Madison, who still insists on using his last name, and marries trophy wife Crystal, the first order of business for Olivia Petrov, the monstrous vice chairwoman of the Buckhead Women’s Foundation, is to get Shannon voted out as the organization’s chairwoman—a decision she announces to Shannon in the middle of a gala Shannon organized. Olivia’s second order of business is to get Shannon nixed as a client by Jenny at the Glow Beauty Bar and unfriended by upscale realtor Karen Richardson, whose husband, plastic surgeon Mark Richardson, Olivia has called on repeatedly for services both professional and unprofessional. But Shannon’s not about to go gently into that good night; Karen is busy falling for Keisha, Jenny’s friend and employee; and Crystal, who’s hiding secrets of her own, may not be the ideal new member of the frenemies group Olivia has gathered around her. As she’s questioned by Detective Frank Sanford, Jenny is joined by four other narrators—Olivia, Karen, Shannon, and Crystal—who take turns dishing on each other and heartlessly detailing all the offensive and defensive moves each of them made. As Rose sends her juiced-up take on Clare Boothe Luce’s classic play The Women hurtling toward a conclusion whose only clearly preordained feature is that one of them will end up killing one of the others, suspense focuses mainly on why only one of these eminently deserving ladies ends up dead.

Sublimely bitchy. What else is there to know?

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 979-8-20070-684-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Blackstone

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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HOME IS WHERE THE BODIES ARE

Answers are hard to come by in this twisting tale designed to trick and delight.

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Three siblings on very different paths learn that their family home may be haunted by secrets.

Eldest daughter Beth is alone with her fading mother as she takes her final breath and says something about Beth’s long-departed brother and sister, who may not have disappeared forever. Beth is still reeling from the loss of her mother when her estranged siblings show up. Michael, the youngest, hasn’t been home since their father’s disappearance seven years ago. In the meantime, he’s outgrown his siblings, trading his share of the family troubles for a high-paying job in San Jose. Nicole, the middle child, has been overpowered by addiction and prioritized tuning out reality over any sense of responsibility, much to Beth’s disgust. Though their mother’s death marks an ending for the family, it’s also a beginning, as the three siblings realize when they find a disturbing videotape among their parents’ belongings. The video, from 1999, sheds suspicion on their father’s disappearance, linking it to a long-unsolved neighborhood mystery. Was it just a series of unfortunate circumstances that broke the family apart, or does something more sinister underlie the sadness they’ve all found in life? In chapters that rotate among the family’s first-person narratives, the siblings take turns digging up stories and secrets in their search for solace.

Answers are hard to come by in this twisting tale designed to trick and delight.

Pub Date: April 30, 2024

ISBN: 9798212182843

Page Count: 270

Publisher: Blackstone

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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THEN SHE WAS GONE

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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