A suspense tale with an engrossing plot and fun characters.


In Brote’s thriller set in 1978, a pair of newlyweds move into a home that has more secrets than they bargained for.

As the story opens, Sharon Walsh is driving to Nettlestone, New Hampshire, to move into her new home with her husband, Kip, a local morning radio DJ. When Sharon arrives at the house, she learns that it’s next door to an abandoned Cloud 9 Family Fun Park. As Sharon gets accustomed to Nettlestone, she finds some secret compartments in her home as well as a cache of provocative photos and a diary; she also discovers the house’s previous residents were a woman named Astrid and her husband, Hank Russo, who allegedly strangled her a year ago but was never charged.In addition, she finds out that her icy neighbor, Dolores, used to live there. Despite being plagued by nightmares, Sharon investigates the mysteries surrounding Astrid’s murder, which seem connected to a secret swingers’ club. Later, she meets Astrid’s twin sister, Agnes; together, the two women decode the murder victim’s collection of postcards and uncover a hidden tunnel that leads directly from the house to Cloud 9. After someone else turns up dead, Sharon races to solve the mystery with new urgency. Brote’s tale is a riveting whodunit that has the added bonus of being a period piece, complete with a music playlist. The plot offers thrilling (and sometimes delightfully blue) twists and turns, and Brote manages to give her setting additional texture with 1970s references that feels as comfortable as a faded Eagles T-shirt. This provides a wonderful contrast to the skillfully described, creepy amusement park, which features a labyrinthine house of mirrors. Still, Brote effectively takes a beat every now and again to focus on Sharon and Kip’s relationship, allowing readers to become more invested in the characters. Similarly, the prose can be striking, as in the prologue: “I was able to inhale one shaky last breath, the intoxicating fragrance of rose and jasmine on my skin mingling with the stink of stale cigarette smoke and the marshy pond outside.”

A suspense tale with an engrossing plot and fun characters.

Pub Date: May 23, 2023

ISBN: 9798987693315

Page Count: 307

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2023

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A well-turned, if predictable, installment in the popular series.


With the United States the “closest [it’s] been to war” in a lifetime, intelligence operative Jack Ryan Jr. faces stiff odds in trying to avert disaster with China.

Trouble with China begins brewing (yet again in the Clancy books) with the rendition of a Chinese scientist and the killing of his American brother, a specialist in machine learning. With a sniper attack on the German outpost of The Campus, Ryan’s “off-the-books” agency, and the downing of an American plane over the South China Sea, U.S. efforts to recover a Chinese undersea glider capable of detecting a $3 billion American stealth submarine are in jeopardy. Things look especially grim with the capture of crash survivor John Clark, Ryan’s boss and a close compadre of his father, President Jack Ryan Sr. With Ryan Sr. still shaken by the abduction of his wife a year ago and Ryan Jr. doubtful of his abilities as a team leader, it's up to intelligence director Mary Pat Foley to calm the waters with her expertise and strong will. One possible outcome is a Chinese attack on Taiwan. In Bentley’s third outing in the series, it takes a while to get past cookie cutter stuff: Many pages go by before the reader knows what all the tense language, chase scenes, and international travel are about. But the book's cool, checkerboard efficiency eventually takes hold. And the streaks of vulnerability that run through the Ryans impart a human dimension that most such thrillers lack. Bentley also takes pains to distinguish the novel from fake fiction: “Unlike in the movies, getting struck by a rifle round moving at several thousand feet per second was not insignificant.”

A well-turned, if predictable, installment in the popular series.

Pub Date: May 23, 2023

ISBN: 9780593422786

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2023

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.


Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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