A serviceable lido deck companion.

READ REVIEW

CARIBBEAN HIT

AN EVE WADE MYSTERY

In the launch of Henderson’s debut mystery series, an investigative reporter should have listened to her psychic neighbor who warned her, “Don’t go” on her Caribbean vacation.

Burned-out journalist Eve Wade is eager to leave behind the Cleveland winter and “the most depressing investigations of her career.” She accepts an offer of a free Caribbean cruise in exchange for writing a story about her travel experience. Mike Gardino, cruise director for the struggling cruise ship line, figures that “few writers risked becoming too critical for fear of missing out on future invitations.” No sooner is Wade on board than her reporter’s instincts kick in: Why do married couple Flo and Tony who profess to be from Chicago speak with New York accents? Does Gardino have a drinking problem? Is fellow passenger Jerry Addison really a Canadian travel writer (she’s never heard of his publication), or does he have a more sinister agenda? “Curiosity sometimes can be a dangerous thing,” he ominously cautions her early on. Wade’s promise to herself to “stop being a snoopy reporter” and enjoy the cruise will be broken when she finds a couple fatally shot in her cabin. The suspects mount as Wade joins in the frantic investigation while Gardino and the ship’s captain try to keep the whole “murderer is still on the ship” thing under wraps. Henderson, a journalist, has supplied her book with an arresting lede: “A collision seemed inevitable.” Readers will enjoy Wade’s immersion in life-threatening peril, “adrift clinging to the side of a sinking boat,” as she wonders how a junket could have gone so horribly wrong. Henderson efficiently gets us from here to there, but the writing could be much snappier. Exposition is often clumsy; Eve notices on one of Gardino’s one-night stands “a light-colored circle around [her] left ring finger that had not yet been eradicated by her tan, and she wondered if some of Candy’s sexual pursuits and banter were attempts to cover a recent painful split.”

A serviceable lido deck companion.

Pub Date: March 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-9837-7485-0

Page Count: 206

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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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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