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THE FURIES

As with all the Charlie Parker books, this is fine fodder for crime fans.

PI Charlie Parker is back in a pair of short novels with a ghostly twist.

Parker, as his fans know, is an ex-cop and a PI whose wife, Susan, and daughter Jennifer were murdered, and Jennifer’s ghost still haunts him. The characters in both these tales range from the offbeat to the literally Strange: The sisters Dolors and Ambar Strange run Strange Brews, a coffee shop in Portland, Maine, in the first novel, The Sisters Strange. Each yields her bed to a lowlife named Raum Buker, of whom Parker notes, “Gradually, like fecal matter falling down a drain, gravity brought Raum to Portland.” Buker once had a mouth that “resembled the ruins of Dresden” but now has “installment-plan teeth” with what Parker calls a puppy-killing grin. Back in Pennsylvania, a “poisonous” old man named Edwin Ellerkamp is found choked to death, his mouth and throat engorged with coins dating as far back as the seventh and eighth centuries. The killer is a man of indeterminate age (Generations? Centuries?) named Kepler, who desperately seeks one particular coin—“with the right coin,” he believes, “even gods could be bought.” Kepler sees and feels himself rotting away as he reads decades-old newspapers, so maybe finding that precious coin will cure what ails him. In the second novel, The Furies, Parker reluctantly takes on the case of Sarah Abelli, the socially shunned widow of a femicidal killer. Meanwhile, Lyle Pantuff and Gilman Veale stay at Braycott Arms, a “shithole” hotel suitable for their ilk. The woman-hating Pantuff has “one of those faces that couldn't have drawn more cops if it were shaped like a donut and covered with sprinkles.” At one point, he’s “crouched like a gargoyle at the end of his bed.” Veale keeps hearing a child, although none are allowed at Braycott Arms, and it creeps him out. No one can find any child, not even in the basement, so readers will be creeped out too. Maybe it’s a ghost, because someone gets the shock of a lifetime. Connolly skillfully hints at the occult while keeping Parker grounded and sane. The author imbues both stories with melancholy and deft touches of dark humor.

As with all the Charlie Parker books, this is fine fodder for crime fans.

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-9821-7700-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Emily Bestler/Atria

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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MIND GAMES

A touching story of love and grief ends in an epic battle of good versus evil.

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Roberts’ latest may move you to tears, or joy, or dread, or all three.

Every summer, John and Cora Fox visit Cora’s mother, Lucy Lannigan, in Redbud Hollow, Kentucky, leaving their children, 12-year-old Thea and 10-year-old Rem, for a two-week taste of heaven. The children love Grammie Lucy far more than John’s snooty family, which looks down on Cora. Lucy, a healer with deep Appalachian roots, loves animals, cooks the best meals, plays musical instruments, and makes soap and candles for her thriving business. Thea—who’s inherited the psychic abilities passed down through the women of Lucy’s family—has vivid magical dreams, one of which becomes a living nightmare when a psychopath robs and murders John and Cora as Thea watches helplessly. Thea’s description of the killer and her ability to see him in real time help the skeptical police catch Ray Riggs, who goes to prison for life. Although Thea and Rem go on to have a wonderful childhood with Grammie, Thea constantly wages a mental battle with Riggs, who tries to use his own psychic abilities to get into her mind. Over the years, Thea uses her imagination to become a game designer while the more business-minded Rem helps manage her career. Thea eventually builds a house near Lucy, where a newly arrived neighbor is her teen crush, singer-songwriter Tyler Brennan. Tyler has his own issues and is protective of his young son but slowly builds a loving relationship with Thea, whose silence about her abilities leads to a devastating misunderstanding. At first Thea tries to keep Riggs locked out of her mind. As her powers grow, she torments him. Finally, she realizes that she must win this battle and destroy him if she’s ever to have peace.

A touching story of love and grief ends in an epic battle of good versus evil.

Pub Date: May 21, 2024

ISBN: 9781250289698

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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THE SILENT PATIENT

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

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A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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