by Judith Sanders ‧ RELEASE DATE: N/A
This shrewd exploration of a killer’s mindset will unnerve and enthrall readers.
Awards & Accolades
A serial killer cozies up to another murderer who’s been making headlines in this psychological thriller.
Former combat medic Max Mason now works as a nurse at the Carlson Brain Injury & Rehabilitation Center in New Hampshire. He’s also a serial killer, or so he confides to comatose patient Lincoln Douglas Raider. Lincoln’s injury was a simple fall while cleaning the gutters at his house. But his identity is a lot more complicated, as many people now believe he’s the media-dubbed “Huntsman” who has killed several women. Aside from the first victim, each woman has vanished, with her heart and an apple later turning up at her front door. Max becomes obsessed with talking to Lincoln about the psychopathic inclinations they presumably share. He likewise befriends Lincoln’s wife, Jolene, who asks Max for help with her recovering husband when he finally awakens. This gives Max the chance to learn all he can about Lincoln and his twisted mentality at the couple’s farm. But notwithstanding his recurrent nightmares of hurting someone, Lincoln doesn’t apparently remember certain events before his coma. Moreover, his love for Jolene and their newborn daughter looks genuine—hardly the behavior of a killer lacking empathy. As the evidence against Lincoln is circumstantial (he has a vague tie to each victim), Max can’t help but entertain the idea that this man isn’t a murderer. Getting closer to Lincoln could get him answers, but it’s sure to be precarious, as this supposed serial killer’s mind may be unraveling.
Sanders shrouds this mystery in ambiguity, a haziness that clears up as the story progresses. Max, for example, who says little about what he’s done as a serial killer, has a specific agenda in getting next to Lincoln. In addition, “The Captive,” an unnamed woman who’s the Huntsman’s seventh and latest victim, provides an intermittent narrative perspective. It’s not easy to sympathize with the cast members, including Max, until their personalities take shape much later in the novel. But the few supporting characters shine—the Martins, Lincoln’s neighbors who believe in the man’s innocence, and Det. Darby Albright, Max’s sister, whose first murder case as a rookie cop was one of the Huntsman’s unfortunate victims. Despite allusions to serial murders and even Max’s efforts to jog Lincoln’s memory of the brutal deaths, Sanders’ novel is only moderately graphic and instead is heavy on suspense. Uncertainty over what Lincoln may or may not have done makes him all the more frightening; readers are either getting a close-up of a psychopath or no clues to who or where the real killer is. The author churns out unforgettable, sometimes scary moments, such as Max literally getting stuck in a muddy cornfield: “I attempt to stand, and my feet sink deeper. Cold spring water pools and trickles down my legs, filling my shoes and adding to my weight. I’m up to my waist in mud and freezing.” The inevitable twists in the latter half, even if largely predictable, deliver a memorable and convincing final act, with an especially strong last scene.This shrewd exploration of a killer’s mindset will unnerve and enthrall readers.
Pub Date: N/A
Page Count: 321
Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2022
Review Program: Kirkus Indie
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by Michael Connelly ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 7, 2023
The most richly accomplished of the brothers’ pairings to date—and given Connelly’s high standards, that’s saying a lot.
Harry Bosch and the Lincoln Lawyer team up to exonerate a woman who’s already served five years for killing her ex-husband.
The evidence against Lucinda Sanz was so overwhelming that she followed the advice of Frank Silver, the B-grade attorney who’d elbowed his way onto her defense, and pleaded no contest to manslaughter to avoid a life sentence for shooting Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Roberto Sanz in the back as he stalked out of her yard after their latest argument. But now that her son, Eric, is 13, old enough to get recruited by local gangs, she wants to be out of stir and at his side. So she writes to Mickey Haller, who asks his half-brother for help. After all his years working for the LAPD, Bosch is adamant about not working for a criminal defendant, even though Haller’s already taken him on as an associate so that he can get access to private health insurance and a UCLA medical trial for an experimental cancer treatment. But the habeas corpus hearing Haller’s aiming for isn’t, strictly speaking, a criminal defense proceeding, and even a cursory examination of the forensic evidence raises Bosch’s hackles. Bolstered by Bosch’s discoveries and a state-of-the-art digital reconstruction of the shooting, Haller heads to court to face Assistant Attorney General Hayden Morris, who has a few tricks up his own sleeve. The endlessly resourceful courtroom back-and-forth is furious in its intensity, although Haller eventually upstages Bosch, Morris, and everyone else in sight. What really stands out here, however, is that Connelly never lets you forget, from his title onward, the life-or-death issues behind every move in the game.The most richly accomplished of the brothers’ pairings to date—and given Connelly’s high standards, that’s saying a lot.
Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023
Page Count: 400
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023
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by Stephen King ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 5, 2023
Loyal King stans may disagree, but this is a snooze.
A much-beloved author gives a favorite recurring character her own novel.
Holly Gibney made her first appearance in print with a small role in Mr. Mercedes (2014). She played a larger role in The Outsider (2018). And she was the central character in If It Bleeds, a novella in the 2020 collection of the same name. King has said that the character “stole his heart.” Readers adore her, too. One way to look at this book is as several hundred pages of fan service. King offers a lot of callbacks to these earlier works that are undoubtedly a treat for his most loyal devotees. That these easter eggs are meaningless and even befuddling to new readers might make sense in terms of costs and benefits. King isn’t exactly an author desperate to grow his audience; pleasing the people who keep him at the top of the bestseller lists is probably a smart strategy, and this writer achieved the kind of status that whatever he writes is going to be published. Having said all that, it’s possible that even his hardcore fans might find this story a bit slow. There are also issues in terms of style. Much of the language King uses and the cultural references he drops feel a bit creaky. The word slacks occurs with distracting frequency. King uses the phrase keeping it on the down-low in a way that suggests he probably doesn’t understand how this phrase is currently used—and has been used for quite a while. But the biggest problem is that this narrative is framed as a mystery without delivering the pleasures of a mystery. The reader knows who the bad guys are from the start. This can be an effective storytelling device, but in this case, waiting for the private investigator heroine to get to where the reader is at the beginning of the story feels interminable.Loyal King stans may disagree, but this is a snooze.
Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023
Page Count: 464
Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023
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