Ready. Set. Psycho.

An energetic potboiler features a sadistic serial killer and a determined team of seasoned detectives.

In this thriller’s prologue, a character named Psycho, aka Justin Graham, riding around with a bound and gagged police detective in his back seat, unceremoniously runs over a pedestrian while making declarations about rules and the unknowable dangers of obedience. From this point on, Canadian sci-fi author Griffin (Darkness and the Radiance of Neamh, 2014, etc.) keeps the adrenaline churning as a cadre of cops attempts to outwit a brutal, clever killer. After Detective Greg Kellogg’s murder at the hands of Psycho, Reginald, a thrill-seeking investigative officer, is quickly swept into solving a recent rash of lucrative heists plaguing Manhattan’s elderly elite. Elsewhere, Detective Solomon Roud has been placed on leave for erratic behavior, emotional instability, and a string of bad luck since his former partner Greg’s murder. Desperate to “wipe that slate clean,” Sol continues covertly working undercover jobs for the thievery ring, hoping to eventually bust it from the inside. The band’s next job is a huge estate heist, and Sol needs several backup men to assist in a sting operation. Reg and ex–Navy man Sham are recruited as key operatives, and all three get to work on apprehending the thieves. Meanwhile, in a case that firmly anchors the novel, Psycho, whose serial killing evolution is filled in through grisly flashbacks, continues his vicious torture/murdering spree, complete with cryptic notes jammed down the victims’ throats. But when a local pathologist discovers a clue pointing to Sol, he enlists the detective’s help in solving the crime as well. The killer slithers closer to Sol and blackmails him in a Saw-like game involving a nail-biting, time-hinged trade-off of a kidnapped girl for a score-settling murder. Fresh leads, a spirited game of cat and mouse, a surprise revelation, and some intuitive, sleuthing spadework keep Griffin’s impressive suspense yarn zipping along. All of his characters, whether benevolent or motivated by deadly intent, are equipped with wisecracking personalities and the ability to grab a reader’s attention throughout the length of an action-packed novel that barely pauses to catch its breath. The dramatic conclusion doesn’t disappoint and satisfyingly leaves the detectives’ doors wide open for future adventures. With the ferocity and black humor of a Quentin Tarantino film, this in-your-face chiller delivers lethal villains; flawed, dogged investigators; and a bevy of twists and turns.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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