An artfully rendered tale of homicide and family intrigue.

READ REVIEW

The Patricide

Ekemar (The Complete Callaghan Tetralogy, 2015, etc.) presents a murder mystery set in a vineyard in the French countryside.

Patrice LaFarge is the cantankerous owner of the Clos Saint-Jacques estate and vineyard, a property of considerable commercial value. After a bitter dispute with his brother over inheritance-related issues, Patrice resolves to keep his holdings fully intact and prevent future development by others. However, he worries that his wishes won’t be respected by three of his children, who are all emotionally estranged from him. Henri is the most irresolute of the bunch and in constant need of financial support. Constance, who lives in Paris and works as a music hall artist, also squanders her money and regularly looks to Patrice for assistance. Michel, the eldest child, is a financially savvy businessman, but Patrice frets that he’ll sell his share of the land as soon as a good deal presents itself. Patrice consults with his lawyer and creates a fidei-commissum, a kind of trust in which the bank supervises the property and prevents its sale or development; it also funnels the income to the three siblings as well as Gaspard, a child from one of Patrice’s affairs, who runs the property. Patrice presents this plan to his progeny as a work in progress, and he locks the not-yet-notarized version in his room, using a key that he asked Gaspard to make. When the whole family meets to discuss the plan, they’re predictably enraged, and shortly after Patrice dies in a fire while locked in his own room. Inspector Jean-Claude Rimbaud is called in to investigate what increasingly looks like a homicide. Veteran author Ekemar puts the plot at a slow simmer, trickling out pertinent information while also maintaining suspense. There’s no shortage of motives among the characters; the lives of the siblings are full of personal disarray of one kind or another, making them each prime candidates for committing the crime. That said, these same characters could be more fully developed; Ekemar has a tendency to overexplain their quirks, rather than letting them reveal themselves through action and dialogue. Still, this book remains an intelligently fashioned mystery, giving its readers just enough information to be enthralled, but not so much that they become bored by predictability.

An artfully rendered tale of homicide and family intrigue. 

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2016

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 171

Publisher: Bradley & Brougham

Review Posted Online: May 16, 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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