A pleasure for Grisham fans and an undemanding addition to the beach bag.

CAMINO WINDS

A tempest is bearing down, and murder most foul is afoot in Grisham’s latest whodunit.

Call it a metamystery: Grisham, prolific producer of courtroom thrillers, moves the action to a Florida resort island populated by mystery writers. In the wake of a ravaging hurricane, one of them turns up dead—a nice, affable fellow named Nelson Kerr, a former trial lawyer who “ratted out a client, a defense contractor who was illegally selling high-tech military stuff to the Iranians and North Koreans.” It’s not hard to understand that the client might want Kerr dead. But then, so would others whom Kerr has written about, including money launderers and—well, let’s just say other entrepreneurs who wouldn’t like their activities to be described in any detail. Enter bookstore owner Bruce Cable, friend, drinking buddy, and sometime editor and adviser of Kerr and other members of Camino Island’s literary crowd, including “an ex-con who’d served time in a federal pen for sins that were still vague.” Cable is perhaps Grisham’s least sympathetic hero; he drinks night and day, sleeps around, and has few apparent scruples. At least he’s not a lawyer. Neither is he a cop, though he’s quicker on the scene than the island’s homicide investigator—“I didn’t know we had a homicide guy,” Bruce allows, since murder is rare in these parts. That leaves it to him, an intern, a girlfriend, and assorted other players to piece together what happened to the unfortunate Mr. Kerr, who, it must be said, is dispatched in a way nicely in keeping with Floridian lifestyles. Grisham’s tale unfolds at a leisurely pace, never breaking into a sweat, and if the bad guys seem a touch too familiar, the rest of the cast make a varied and believable lot, and some might even be fun to ride out a storm with, at least if they're unarmed.

A pleasure for Grisham fans and an undemanding addition to the beach bag.

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-385-54593-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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A unique story of transcendent love.

LAYLA

An aimless young musician meets the girl of his dreams only to have his newfound happiness threatened by several inexplicable—and possibly supernatural—events.

The story opens as Leeds Gabriel meets with a detective while his girlfriend, Layla, is restrained in a room one flight above them. Through the interview, readers learn that Leeds was wasting both his time and his musical talent playing backup for a small-town wedding troupe called Garrett’s Band when he spied Layla dancing her heart out to their mediocre music at a wedding. When Leeds approaches Layla, their connection is both instant and intense. A blissful courtship follows, but then Leeds makes the mistake of posting a picture of himself with Layla on social media. A former girlfriend–turned-stalker wastes no time in finding and attacking Layla. Layla spends months recovering in a hospital, and it seems the girl Leeds fell for might be forever changed. Gone is her special spark, her quirkiness, and the connection that had entranced Leeds months before. In a last-ditch effort to save their relationship, he brings Layla back to the bed-and-breakfast where they first met. When they get there, though, Leeds meets Willow, another guest, and finds himself drawn to her in spite of himself. As events unfold, it becomes clear that Willow will either be the key to saving Leeds’ relationship with Layla or the catalyst that finally extinguishes the last shreds of their epic romance. Told entirely from Leeds’ point of view, the author’s first foray into paranormal romance does not disappoint. Peppered with elements of mystery, psychological thriller, and contemporary romance, the novel explores questions about how quickly true love can develop, as well as the conflicts that can imperil even the strongest connections. Despite a limited cast of characters and very few setting changes, the narrative manages to remain both fast-paced and engaging. The conclusion leaves a few too many loose ends, but the chemistry between the characters and unexpected twists throughout make for a satisfying read.

A unique story of transcendent love.

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-0017-8

Page Count: 301

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 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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