There is something lackadaisical about the writing here that makes getting through all the plot twists a slog.

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STILL ME

Master of cheerful uplift Moyes brings her British Everygirl heroine, Louisa Clark, back for a third go-round, this time sending her on an adventurous year in New York City.

After the death of Will, the wealthy paraplegic with whom she fell in love while working as his caretaker in Me Before You (2012), Lou found the promise of new love with paramedic Sam in After You (2015). Now she's ready to take on the kind of adventure Will always encouraged and Sam agrees she needs to experience, even if it means they have a trans-Atlantic relationship for a year. Her friend Nathan has found her a job as an assistant to the wife of his New York employer, Leonard Gopnik. Lou moves into the Gopniks' huge apartment at a prestigious Fifth Avenue address, and the novel’s strong early pages record her dizzy fascination with Manhattan. But the job is harder and New York lonelier than expected. Agnes Gopnik, who's recently arrived from Poland and was Leonard’s masseuse before becoming his second wife, finds navigating Upper East Side society a strain, to say the least. She leans on Lou as a purported friend, but Lou will learn to her dismay that a friendship between employer and servant can be slippery to maintain. So can long-distance romance. She suspects Sam’s relationship with his new partner at work might be growing more than professional, while she herself is pursued by an up-and-coming businessman who is not only charming, but bears a disconcerting resemblance to Will. Unfortunately, Lou no longer seems as fresh or endearing as she did in the earlier books. Her wit feels strained. Even her eccentric fashion sense has grown a bit annoying. Secondary characters—like the Gopniks’ elderly neighbor Mrs. DeWitt, devoted to her dog and not as mean as she seems; or Ashok, the doorman whose chaotically happy marriage provides contrast to the Gopniks’—end up more engaging than the protagonists.

There is something lackadaisical about the writing here that makes getting through all the plot twists a slog.

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-56245-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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Another success for the publishing phenom.

UNDER CURRENTS

An abused boy fights back, escapes, then returns as an attorney to his beloved hometown, but just as he’s falling in love with a transplanted landscaper, a series of attacks from shadowy enemies jeopardizes their happiness.

“From the outside, the house in Lakeview Terrace looked perfect.” Which of course means that it wasn't. We're introduced to the horrifying Dr. Graham Bigelow, who beats his wife and, increasingly as the boy gets older, his son, Zane. On the night of Zane’s prom, a particularly savage attack puts him and his sister in the hospital, and his father blames Zane, landing him in jail. Then his sister stands up for him, enlisting the aid of their aunt, and everything changes, mainly due to Zane’s secret diaries. Nearly 20 years later, Zane leaves a successful career as a lawyer to return to Lakeview, where his aunt and sister live with their families, deciding to hang a shingle as a small-town lawyer. Then he meets Darby McCray, the landscaper who’s recently relocated and taken the town by storm, starting with the transformation of his family’s rental bungalows. The two are instantly intrigued by each other, but they move slowly into a relationship neither is looking for. Darby has a violent past of her own, so she is more than willing to take on the risk of antagonizing a boorish local family when she and Zane help an abused wife. Suddenly Zane and Darby face one attack after another, and even as they grow ever closer under the pressure, the dangers become more insidious. Roberts’ latest title feels a little long and the story is slightly cumbersome, but her greatest strength is in making the reader feel connected to her characters, so “unnecessary details” can also charm and engage.

Another success for the publishing phenom.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-20709-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

OUTFOX

An FBI agent is determined to catch a man who bilks and murders wealthy women, but the chase goes slowly.

Brown (Tailspin, 2018, etc.) has published 70 bestsellers, and this one employs her usual template of thriller spiked with romance. Its main character, Drex Easton, is an FBI agent in pursuit of a serial killer, but for him it’s personal. When he was a boy, his mother left him and his father for another man, Weston Graham. Drex believes Graham murdered her and that he has killed at least seven more women after emptying their bank accounts. Now he thinks he has the clever Graham—current alias Jasper Ford—in his sights, and he’s willing to put his career at risk to catch him. The women Ford targets are wealthy, and his new prey is no exception—except that, uncharacteristically, he has married her. Talia Ford proves to be a complication for Drex, who instantly falls in lust with her even though he’s not at all sure she isn’t her husband's accomplice. Posing as a would-be novelist, Drex moves into an apartment next door to the Fords’ posh home and tries to ingratiate himself, but tensions rise immediately—Jasper is suspicious, and Talia has mixed feelings about Drex's flirtatious behavior. When Talia’s fun-loving friend Elaine Conner turns up dead after a cruise on her yacht and Jasper disappears, Drex and Talia become allies. There are a few action sequences and fewer sex scenes, but the novel’s pace bogs down repeatedly in long, mundane conversations. Drex's two FBI agent sidekicks are more interesting characters than he is; Drex himself is such a caricature of a macho man, so heedless of ethics, and so aggressive toward women that it’s tough to see him as a good guy. Brown adds a couple of implausible twists at the very end that make him seem almost as untrustworthy as Graham.

This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4555-7219-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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