Yes, it’s too long, resulting in a certain noticeable softness around the middle, but time and place are so vividly evoked,...

STARDUST

Kanon’s atmospheric, character-driven latest (Alibi, 2005, etc.) comes within a whisker of being flawless.

Hollywood, 1945: a place where an observer as shrewd as Ben Collier could easily conclude, “Nothing can lie like a smile.” Lots of smilers, lots of lies, lots of reasons for Ben not to believe that his brother Danny’s death was either a suicide or an accident, though both have been put forward as explanations. Still in uniform, Signal Corps officer Ben arrives in Hollywood on assignment to make a Nazi death-camp documentary for the army. He’ll work under the auspices of Continental Films and Sol Lasner, its pepper-pot founder and boss. But there’s a subtext, of course. In Germany, where they were boys, Ben adored his charismatic older brother. Danny’s charm, unflagging energy and zest for life were givens in the Kohler household. Suicide? Never! Accident? Well, perhaps, but Ben can’t be convinced of its likelihood. Though circumstances, mostly those attendant on being a Jew under Hitler, uprooted and eventually separated them, the brothers had remained in touch as best they could, while leading far-flung and disparate lives: Ben a soldier, Danny a movie producer. A movie producer with enigmatic sides to him, Ben discovers as his investigation intensifies. There’s the mystery surrounding his role as husband, for instance, to the beautiful Liesl, who will come to loom large in Ben’s own life. There are the unsettling ways Danny seems connected to the infamous Congressional Red-baiting that’s breaking so many careers and hearts now that the Russians are no longer U.S. allies. His brother had bitter enemies, Ben soon realizes. Which one was a murderer?

Yes, it’s too long, resulting in a certain noticeable softness around the middle, but time and place are so vividly evoked, and the writing is so strong, that most readers will be of a mind to forgive.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4391-5614-8

Page Count: 506

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2009

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Greed, love, and extrasensory abilities combine in two middling mysteries.

LABYRINTH

Coulter’s treasured FBI agents take on two cases marked by danger and personal involvement.

Dillon Savitch and his wife, Lacey Sherlock, have special abilities that have served them well in law enforcement (Paradox, 2018, etc.). But that doesn't prevent Sherlock’s car from hitting a running man after having been struck by a speeding SUV that runs a red light. The runner, though clearly injured, continues on his way and disappears. Not so the SUV driver, a security engineer for the Bexholt Group, which has ties to government agencies. Sherlock’s own concussion causes memory loss so severe that she doesn’t recognize Savitch or remember their son, Sean. The whole incident seems more suspicious when a blood test from the splatter of the man Sherlock hit reveals that he’s Justice Cummings, an analyst for the CIA. The agency’s refusal to cooperate makes Savitch certain that Bexholt is involved in a deep-laid plot. Meanwhile, Special Agent Griffin Hammersmith is visiting friends who run a cafe in the touristy Virginia town of Gaffers Ridge. Hammersmith, who has psychic abilities, is taken aback when he hears in his mind a woman’s cry for help. Reporter Carson DeSilva, who came to the area to interview a Nobel Prize winner, also has psychic abilities, and she overhears the thoughts of Rafer Bodine, a young man who has apparently kidnapped and possibly murdered three teenage girls. Unluckily, she blurts out her thoughts, and she’s snatched and tied up in a cellar by Bodine. Bodine may be a killer, but he’s also the nephew of the sheriff and the son of the local bigwig. So the sheriff arrests Hammersmith and refuses to accept his FBI credentials. Bodine's mother has psychic powers strong enough to kill, but she meets her match in Hammersmith, DeSilva, Savitch, and Sherlock.

Greed, love, and extrasensory abilities combine in two middling mysteries.

Pub Date: July 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-9365-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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An engrossing and haunting psychological thriller.

WATCHING YOU

A young newlywed's life is upended, and a picturesque neighborhood is shattered, when she is suspected of a savage murder.

At the beginning of a new year, Joey Mullen moves back to England from Ibiza with Alfie, her husband, whom she hastily married out of grief over the death of her mother. Jack, Joey’s older brother, invites the young couple to move into his painted Victorian house in the upscale Bristol neighborhood of Melville Heights so they can get on their feet financially and help with the baby that Jack and his wife, Rebecca, are expecting. Joey quickly becomes infatuated with their neighbor Tom Fitzwilliam, a new headmaster charged with improving the local school. Her crush only intensifies when Alfie suggests having a baby, and Joey begins to suspect her marriage was a mistake. Meanwhile, Tom’s wife, Nicola, struggles to fill her days and remains oblivious to their son, Freddie, who regularly spies on his neighbors and the village's teenage schoolgirls, taking their photos and keeping a detailed log of everyone's activities. This surveillance exacerbates the paranoia and mental illness of another neighbor, the mother of 16-year-old Jenna, one of Tom’s students. Jenna’s mother is convinced that she knows the Fitzwilliam family from a vacation incident years earlier (and that the family is now stalking her), but Jenna is more concerned that Tom may be having an inappropriate relationship with her best friend. After several months, tension in the neighborhood explodes, and Joey is suspected of a brutal murder. However, as the police gather evidence, it becomes clear how many secrets each family has been hiding. Jewell (Then She Was Gone, 2017, etc.) adeptly weaves together a complex array of characters in her latest thriller. The novel opens with the murder investigation and deftly maintains its intensity and brisk pace even as the story moves through different moments in time over the previous three months. Jewell’s use of third-person narration allows her to explore each family’s anxieties and sorrows, which ultimately makes this novel’s ending all the more unsettling.

An engrossing and haunting psychological thriller.

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-9007-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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