A flawed outing that may disappoint even Dicker’s fans.

THE ENIGMA OF ROOM 622

Swiss writer Dicker's latest thriller concerns a corpse in a hotel room and a fight for the top job at a private Geneva bank.

As in his breakout novel, The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (2014), Dicker has a framing story here about a writer. Only this one is named Joël, and he refers frequently to his beloved publisher, Bernard de Fallois, the name of the real author’s publisher, who shepherded Quebert and died in 2018. Whatever tribute was intended, though, it seems a dubious one given the novel’s problems. In the framing story, the writer stumbles on an unsolved murder and investigates while using the material to write his latest thriller, which is—you guessed it. As for the corpse, the crime occurred when a new bank president was about to be named. The likeliest candidate, the former bank chief’s son, may be sidelined because 15 years earlier he traded his shares to a shady financier in exchange for something outside the banking world (the potential for spoilers makes it hard to be more precise). The heart of the story concerns a love triangle as well as the love/hate between fathers, or father surrogates, and sons. But that worthy heart is smothered in layers of adipose backstory, and the tortuous plot proves nearly impossible to follow given the constant shifts among, and fuzziness of, the three main time frames. Fast readers may get the most enjoyment from all this if they can fly lightly over the clunky dialogue, flat characters, improbable behavior (“Sagamore, swallowing the last slice of pizza, stood up”), repetitions, and clichés, and so quickly motor past the first 400 pages to the point where the investigation finally picks up some speed. But that pleasure is short-lived, for the plot twists soon take over and quickly evolve from surprising to utterly implausible.

A flawed outing that may disappoint even Dicker’s fans.

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-309881-7

Page Count: 592

Publisher: HarperVia

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

IT STARTS WITH US

The sequel to It Ends With Us (2016) shows the aftermath of domestic violence through the eyes of a single mother.

Lily Bloom is still running a flower shop; her abusive ex-husband, Ryle Kincaid, is still a surgeon. But now they’re co-parenting a daughter, Emerson, who's almost a year old. Lily won’t send Emerson to her father’s house overnight until she’s old enough to talk—“So she can tell me if something happens”—but she doesn’t want to fight for full custody lest it become an expensive legal drama or, worse, a physical fight. When Lily runs into Atlas Corrigan, a childhood friend who also came from an abusive family, she hopes their friendship can blossom into love. (For new readers, their history unfolds in heartfelt diary entries that Lily addresses to Finding Nemo star Ellen DeGeneres as she considers how Atlas was a calming presence during her turbulent childhood.) Atlas, who is single and running a restaurant, feels the same way. But even though she’s divorced, Lily isn’t exactly free. Behind Ryle’s veneer of civility are his jealousy and resentment. Lily has to plan her dates carefully to avoid a confrontation. Meanwhile, Atlas’ mother returns with shocking news. In between, Lily and Atlas steal away for romantic moments that are even sweeter for their authenticity as Lily struggles with child care, breastfeeding, and running a business while trying to find time for herself.

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-668-00122-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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IT ENDS WITH US

Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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