An inventive tale of royal intrigue with accents of mysticism and magic.

THE EMPEROR AND THE COURT MAGICIAN

A Chinese empress deals with a troubled son in this debut historical novel.

The year is 601 C.E., and the setting is Sui Dynasty China. One stormy day, in the early hours of the morning, Seer Chen rushes through the dawn streets, seeking a meeting with Empress Dugu. Beneath her robes, she clutches a precious box that occasionally glimmers with a mysterious light. She has kept it safe for years, but it is in danger now and needs a new home. The seer’s visit is fortuitous, as the empress yearns to see her dear friend. The problem is Prince Yang, the heir to the throne and the empress’s son. Yang’s life got off to a charmed start; a kind but savvy child, the young man focused on study and exploration. He surrounded himself with wholesome friends and avoided the perils of the brothel. Kind and just, he seemed to have all the qualities one would want in a ruler. But then one day, out of the blue, everything changed. Now, Yang carouses and drinks; he falls into fits of pique or streaks of violence. It is almost as if he has been replaced by an evil twin. Seer Chen, hearing Dugu’s lament, can’t help but worry that their troubles are connected. Their fateful meeting sparks the plot of this brief but punchy historical novel chock full of palace intrigue and spiritual drama (Chen’s “mind returned to the Prince’s errant behavior, which she had known about, but curiously whenever she would try to see into the situation, her mind would grow fuzzy. It was as if there were a veil over the Prince that shielded him from being seen”). Sankey wastes no time with exposition, dropping her readers straight into a bracing, fast-paced, innovative tale. This enjoyable book is the first installment of an ambitious trilogy that follows a handful of souls through three incarnations. The second volume takes place in early-20th-century Okinawa while the third entry is set in contemporary Malibu, California. The series is a surprising and audacious creative undertaking that is off to a rousing start.

An inventive tale of royal intrigue with accents of mysticism and magic. 

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Manuscript

Review Posted Online: Dec. 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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

THEN SHE WAS GONE

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. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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POP GOES THE WEASEL

After a flight in fantasy with When the Wind Blows (1998), Patterson goes to ground with another slash-and-squirm psychokiller page-turner, this one dedicated to “the millions of Alex Cross readers, who so frequently ask, can’t you write faster?” By day, Geoffrey Shafer is a charming, 42-year-old British Embassy paper-pusher with a picture-perfect family and a shady past as an MI-6 secret agent. Come sundown, he swallows a pharmacy of psychoactive pills, gulps three black coffees loaded with sugar, and roams the streets of Washington, D.C., in a battered cab, where, disguised as a black man, he rolls dice to determine which among his black female fares he—ll murder. Afterwards he dumps his naked victims in crime-infested back alleys of black- slum neighborhoods, then sends e-mails boasting of his accomplishments to three other former MI-6 agents involved in a hellish Internet role-playing game. “I sensed I was at the start of another homicide mess,” sighs forensic-psychologist turned homicide-detective Alex Cross. Cross yearns to catch the “Jane Doe murderer” but is thwarted by Det. Chief George Pittman, who assigns sexy Det. Patsy Hampton to investigate Cross and come up with a reason for dismissing him. Meanwhile, Cross’s fiancÇe is kidnaped during a Bermuda vacation, and an anonymous e-mail warns him to back off. He doesn’t, of course, and just when it appears that Patterson is sleep-walking through his story, Cross nabs Shafer minutes after Shafer kills Det. Hampton. During the subsequent high-visibility trail, Shafer manages to make the jury believe that he’s innocent and that Cross was trying to frame him. When all seems lost, a sympathetic British intelligence chief offers to help Cross bring down Shafer, and the other homicidal game-players, during a showdown on the breezy beaches of Jamaica. Kinky mayhem, a cartoonish villain, regular glimpses of the kindly Cross caring for his loved ones, and an ending that spells a sequel: Patterson’s fans couldn’t ask for more.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 1999

ISBN: 0-316-69328-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1999

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