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THE SPIRES

Reliable suburban creepiness for some night when you already can’t sleep.

A grim trauma from 20 years ago returns in the person of an old friend who survived it to wreak vengeance on a strong heroine who turns out to be surprisingly vulnerable.

Penelope Ritter Cox used to have it all—congenial job, successful husband, perfect children, established New Jersey home—but her yield went down to maybe 70% when Brett Cox’s insurance firm went bankrupt and he lost his job. Now things are getting worse on a daily basis. The slide begins the day Willamena Blaine turns up uninvited on Penelope’s doorstep, pleading for Pip (a nickname Penelope loathes) to take her in because she’s fled her abusive husband, Trent, and has nowhere else to go. Penelope hasn’t seen Willa since their gap year after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, which they spent sharing a disused church with charming, abrasive Jack Avila, asexual virgin Bree Haren, and Bree’s male friend Flynn Lockhart. The year ended badly when a fire in Church House claimed the life of one of its tenants, an incident Penelope secretly has good reason to feel guilty about. Once she’s grudgingly allowed Willa into her house, her old buddy wastes no time in poking around among her belongings, wearing her jewelry, encouraging Penelope’s children to confide in her, and seducing Jaime Heller, the widowed neighbor and friend Penelope’s developed a crush on. Moretti, who’s plowed this territory before, amps up the betrayals inch by inch until you’re wondering if things can possibly get worse. They absolutely can, and not just because of that anticlimactic secret Moretti reveals in a carefully calibrated series of flashbacks.

Reliable suburban creepiness for some night when you already can’t sleep.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2171-5

Page Count: 333

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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HOME IS WHERE THE BODIES ARE

Answers are hard to come by in this twisting tale designed to trick and delight.

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Three siblings on very different paths learn that their family home may be haunted by secrets.

Eldest daughter Beth is alone with her fading mother as she takes her final breath and says something about Beth’s long-departed brother and sister, who may not have disappeared forever. Beth is still reeling from the loss of her mother when her estranged siblings show up. Michael, the youngest, hasn’t been home since their father’s disappearance seven years ago. In the meantime, he’s outgrown his siblings, trading his share of the family troubles for a high-paying job in San Jose. Nicole, the middle child, has been overpowered by addiction and prioritized tuning out reality over any sense of responsibility, much to Beth’s disgust. Though their mother’s death marks an ending for the family, it’s also a beginning, as the three siblings realize when they find a disturbing videotape among their parents’ belongings. The video, from 1999, sheds suspicion on their father’s disappearance, linking it to a long-unsolved neighborhood mystery. Was it just a series of unfortunate circumstances that broke the family apart, or does something more sinister underlie the sadness they’ve all found in life? In chapters that rotate among the family’s first-person narratives, the siblings take turns digging up stories and secrets in their search for solace.

Answers are hard to come by in this twisting tale designed to trick and delight.

Pub Date: April 30, 2024

ISBN: 9798212182843

Page Count: 270

Publisher: Blackstone

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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THE HOUSE ACROSS THE LAKE

A weird, wild ride.

Celebrity scandal and a haunted lake drive the narrative in this bestselling author’s latest serving of subtly ironic suspense.

Sager’s debut, Final Girls (2017), was fun and beautifully crafted. His most recent novels—Home Before Dark (2020) and Survive the Night (2021) —have been fun and a bit rickety. His new novel fits that mold. Narrator Casey Fletcher grew up watching her mother dazzle audiences, and then she became an actor herself. While she never achieves the “America’s sweetheart” status her mother enjoyed, Casey makes a career out of bit parts in movies and on TV and meatier parts onstage. Then the death of her husband sends her into an alcoholic spiral that ends with her getting fired from a Broadway play. When paparazzi document her substance abuse, her mother exiles her to the family retreat in Vermont. Casey has a dry, droll perspective that persists until circumstances overwhelm her, and if you’re getting a Carrie Fisher vibe from Casey Fletcher, that is almost certainly not an accident. Once in Vermont, she passes the time drinking bourbon and watching the former supermodel and the tech mogul who live across the lake through a pair of binoculars. Casey befriends Katherine Royce after rescuing her when she almost drowns and soon concludes that all is not well in Katherine and Tom’s marriage. Then Katherine disappears….It would be unfair to say too much about what happens next, but creepy coincidences start piling up, and eventually, Casey has to face the possibility that maybe some of the eerie legends about Lake Greene might have some truth to them. Sager certainly delivers a lot of twists, and he ventures into what is, for him, new territory. Are there some things that don’t quite add up at the end? Maybe, but asking that question does nothing but spoil a highly entertaining read.

A weird, wild ride.

Pub Date: June 21, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-18319-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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