Ultimately, Mrs. Saint turns her neighbor’s guilt trip into an uplifting journey to interdependence—one that will leave...

MRS. SAINT AND THE DEFECTIVES

A disgraced socialite unwittingly joins a community of “defectives” when she rents a bungalow next to a meddling woman with a French accent and a secret past.

Ashamed of her ex-husband’s affair and financial failure, Markie tries to start a quiet life reviewing insurance claims from her home office to escape the scrutiny of her former friends and neighbors. But her new home, in addition to being less glamorous than the one she left, is not the sanctuary she was hoping for. Her new neighbor Angeline St. Denis—“But you will call me ‘Mrs. Saint’ if you are not prepared to pronounce ‘Denis’ correctly”—has other plans for her time. Before long, Markie and her teenage son, Jesse, are roped into helping Mrs. Saint’s many domestic employees, whom she refers to as “defectives,” with everything from babysitting to yardwork, and it’s unclear whether they are really defective or if Mrs. Saint’s meaning is lost in translation—all Markie knows is that Mrs. Saint is infuriatingly intrusive. She’s constantly turning up uninvited to offer a home-cooked meal, good advice, and help with home repairs just when Markie needs them most. The nerve! But Timmer (Untethered, 2016, etc.) inserts a sly dose of reality into this adult fantasy. Markie’s fractured relationship with her controlling and disapproving parents has left her wary of people who meddle, and she knows she's partly to blame for allowing her irresponsible, cheating husband to ruin both their lives while she looked the other way. So every time Mrs. Saint dodges a personal question or refuses to explain why she wants Markie to help a neighbor with a particular task, Markie feels justified in keeping her distance. But is she really? Together, the so-called defectives, who include a little girl, her troubled mother and grandmother, an elderly handyman, and an absent-minded cook, seem to form a functioning community of helpful neighbors who look out for Mrs. Saint as well as she looks out for them. Where Markie fits into the neighborhood is the question of the story, and its answer is thoughtful and bittersweet.

Ultimately, Mrs. Saint turns her neighbor’s guilt trip into an uplifting journey to interdependence—one that will leave readers ready to move next door.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4778-1996-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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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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Why you double-crossing little double crossers! Fiendishly clever.

PRETTY THINGS

The daughter of a grifter plans to fund her mother’s cancer treatment with a revenge con.

Rich people suck, don’t they? Nina Ross found this out in her adolescence, when her romance with Benny Liebling was broken up by his status-obsessed, old-money father, who found them screwing in the guest cottage of the family’s Lake Tahoe estate. Back then, Nina had a future—but she’s since followed her con-artist mother into the family business with the help of a handsome blue-eyed Irish confederate named Lachlan. “Here’s my rule,” Nina tells him. “Only people who have too much, and only people who deserve it.” Of course, he agrees. “We take only what we need.” With her art history background, Nina is usually able to target a few expensive antiques they can lift without the rich dopes even noticing they’re gone. But now that Nina's mother is hovering at death’s door without health insurance, she’s going after the $1 million in cash Benny mentioned was in his father’s safe all those years ago. So back to Lake Tahoe it is. The older Lieblings are dead, and Benny’s in the bin, so it’s his sister Vanessa Liebling who is the target of the complicated caper. Vanessa is a terribly annoying character—“I couldn’t tell you how I went from a few dozen Instagram followers to a half-million. One day, you’re uploading photos of your dog wearing sunglasses; and the next you’re begin flown to Coachella on a private jet with four other social media It Girls…”—but, in fact, you’ll hate everyone in this book. That is surely Brown’s (Watch Me Disappear, 2017, etc.) intention as she’s the one making them natter on this way. She also makes them vomit much more than is normal, whether it’s because they’re poisoning each other or because they’re just so horrified by each other’s behavior. Definitely stay to see how it all turns out.

Why you double-crossing little double crossers! Fiendishly clever.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-47912-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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