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DAPHNE

Hoop dreams with too much explaining to do.

After a member of the girls' high school basketball team in fictional Samhattan, Michigan, is gruesomely murdered, her surviving teammates fear an avenging ghost of local legend—a 7-foot woman named Daphne—is responsible—and is coming for the rest of them.

When Natasha Manksa relates the myth of Daphne to the rest of the team at a sleepover the night before a big game, no one is more freaked out than star player Kit Lamb, who is immediately overwhelmed with fear. Even as she wins the contest with a clutch free throw, Kit is consumed by the threat of Daphne, a one-time Samhattan baller who died a mysterious death many years ago. Then freshman-to-be Tammy Jones is found dead in her bedroom with “trauma to her face. To her head.” Could it have been Daphne? Kit suffers from intense anxiety, which she closely documents in her diary, and believes she is somehow responsible for Daphne’s return because she’s been thinking about her. As Daphne—who can be seen only by her victims but leaves behind the smells of smoke and whiskey—continues her murder spree, secrets from the town’s past begin to emerge. Daphne has inspired a cult following, perhaps because she’s covered in KISS makeup. Malerman, whose thrillers—including Bird Box (2014)—are uncommonly varied, now ventures into the teen sports territory owned by novelist Megan Abbott and the Showtime series Yellowjackets. Though he effectively captures the team’s group chemistry, this is one of his spottier efforts. Too much is invested in the theme of making a thing true “just by thinking about it”—and, ultimately, reversing that process—and the climax is convoluted. The book may well have fared better as the novella Malerman says he initially wrote.

Hoop dreams with too much explaining to do.

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-15701-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Del Rey

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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CITY IN RUINS

If you love good crime writing but aren’t familiar with Winslow’s work, read this trilogy in order.

The dramatic conclusion to the trilogy about two New England crime families begun in City on Fire (2022) and City of Dreams (2023).

Near the end of his journey, multimillionaire Danny Ryan watches a casino implode in a mushroom cloud of dust and muses about his life’s implosions: “The cancer that killed his wife, the depression that destroyed his love, the moral rot that took his soul.” Danny is from Providence, Rhode Island, and desperately tried to leave his criminal life behind him. But using a ton of ill-gotten gains, he invests heavily in Las Vegas properties. Congress is conducting an investigation into gambling that could destroy his casino business and even land him in jail. An FBI agent plans to take Danny down for major sins he’d like to repent for. Meanwhile, can he make peace with his enemies? Nope, doesn’t look like it. Even if the parties involved want to put the past behind them, the trouble is that they don’t trust each other. Is Vern Winegard setting Dan up? Is Dan setting Vern up? “Trust? Trust is children waiting for Santa Claus.” So what could have been a “Kumbaya,” nobody-wants-to-read-this story turns into a grisly bloodletting filled with language that would set Sister Mary Margaret’s wimple on fire—figuratively speaking, as she’s not in the book. But the Catholic reference is appropriate: Two of the many colorful characters of ill repute are known as the Altar Boys, serving “Last Communion” to their victims. On the law-abiding side and out of the line of fire is an ex-nun-turned-prosecutor nicknamed Attila the Nun, who’s determined to bring justice for a gory matricide. (Rhode Island really had such a person, by the way.) Finally, the prose is just fun: A friend warns Dan about Allie Licata: “In a world of sick fucks, even the sick fucks think Licata’s a sick fuck.” A couple of things to note: This not only ends the trilogy, but it also closes out the author’s career, as he has said he’ll write no more novels.

If you love good crime writing but aren’t familiar with Winslow’s work, read this trilogy in order.

Pub Date: April 2, 2024

ISBN: 9780063079472

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2024

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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE DEVLINS

As an adjunct member says, “You’re not a family, you’re a force.” Exactly, though not in the way you’d expect.

The ne’er-do-well son of a successful Irish American family gets dragged into criminal complications that suggest the rest of the Devlins aren’t exactly the upstanding citizens they appear.

The first 35 years in the life of Thomas “TJ” Devlin have been one disappointment after another to his parents, lawyers who founded a prosperous insurance and reinsurance firm, and his more successful siblings, John and Gabby. A longtime alcoholic who’s been unemployable ever since he did time for an incident involving his ex-girlfriend Carrie’s then 2-year-old daughter, TJ is nominally an investigator for Devlin & Devlin, but everyone knows the post is a sinecure. Things change dramatically when golden-boy John tells TJ that he just killed Neil Lemaire, an accountant for D&D client Runstan Electronics. Their speedy return to the murder scene reveals no corpse, so the brothers breathe easier—until Lemaire turns up shot to death in his car. John’s way of avoiding anything that might jeopardize his status as heir apparent to D&D is to throw TJ under the bus, blaming him for everything John himself has done and adding that you can’t trust anything his brother has said since he’s fallen off the wagon. TJ, who’s maintained his sobriety a day at a time for nearly two years, feels outraged, but neither the police investigating the murder nor his nearest and dearest care about his feelings. Forget the forgettable mystery, whose solution will leave you shrugging instead of gasping, and focus on the circular firing squad of the Devlins, and you’ll have a much better time than TJ.

As an adjunct member says, “You’re not a family, you’re a force.” Exactly, though not in the way you’d expect.

Pub Date: March 26, 2024

ISBN: 9780525539704

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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