A ride on a local that’s more fun than some others on an express.

READ REVIEW

NO REGRETS, COYOTE

An ambling thriller about a suspicious murder-suicide that never meets a diversion it doesn’t like.

Wittingly or not, Wylie “Coyote” Melville, unofficial Everglades County crime consultant, may suggest a reader’s initial response to this latest from Dufresne when he says, “[a] lack of narrative structure, as you know, will cause anxiety.” Melville’s wide-ranging and loosely structured narrative, which looks like a series launch, won’t exactly cause a reader anxiety. In fact, this appealing raconteur’s keen observations and dry, sometimes mordant sense of humor consistently divert. But that also means a reader can’t always discern what the book wants to be about. Like Coyote, a busy therapist who, because of his attention to detail and behavior (“I read faces and furniture”), can just about divine a culprit, the book wears many hats. Ostensibly, the plot is about a Christmas Eve shootout in which a father takes out his wife, his three children and then himself. Police are quick to rule the tragedy a murder-suicide, but too much about the case nags at Coyote. His ensuing investigation ranges far and wide and takes many side trips. There are, for example, Coyote’s no-nonsense, advice-filled therapy sessions. There are Coyote’s meetings with friend Bay Lettique, a devilish magician who can slice a banana with a card tossed from 10 feet. And there are Coyote’s dinners with his sister and brother-in-law, who suffers gout. Throughout, Coyote’s sharp-eyed narration and quick takes on behavior amuse. “He looked like a Cal or a Kim,” Coyote says of a man in a bar whose “short blond hair was combed forward and rose to a quiff like the Gerber baby’s.” Eventually, Dufresne gathers some nasty police officers, Coyote, Bay and some others and packs them off to Alaska for a solid chase scene and a denouement that, however predictable, is no less potent.

A ride on a local that’s more fun than some others on an express.

Pub Date: July 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-393-07053-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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

THE SILENT PATIENT

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. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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