A fitting thrill ride of a conclusion to a four-book series packed with complex characters, motives, and themes that will...

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The Tollbooth in the Labyrinth

THE CALLAGHAN TETRALOGY (VOLUME 4)

In the final installment of this tetralogy, Callaghan and girlfriend Samantha are pursued through Mexico and Australia by an assortment of criminals and lawmen. Though eluding capture, they long for a normal life, so they hatch one final scheme to set things right.

Ekemar (The Quarry at the Crossroads, 2014, etc.) packs the finale of this original, complex tale with action and intrigue from stem to stern. Callaghan, thrust into a life of revenge, murder, and false identity after being mutilated by mobsters, crosses into Mexico with the Arizona police hot on his tail. While plotting his evasive maneuvers from local police, drug cartels, British and American gangsters, the FBI, Interpol, and assorted other ill-wishers, the resourceful Brit also manages to convince Samantha they are on a fun-filled, romantic holiday. As in earlier installments, Callaghan’s schemes are intricate and brilliant, as is Ekemar’s successful juggling of the sheer volume of characters, deceits, motives, and themes. Eventually, Callaghan must confess an edited version of his history to Samantha—a long recap that smacks of padding—and together they concoct a plan to redeem his identity. The series reverberates with various themes: identity, retribution, redemption. Callaghan’s situation blurs the lines between good and evil, and Ekemar expands that idea in this volume. Not only does Samantha willingly use her accounting and people skills toward Callaghan’s ends, but Yuliana, his ex, seizes the opportunity to exact her own very nasty revenge on a man who repeatedly raped her as a young girl. Exactly what constitutes justice and what humans are capable of under certain circumstances are key questions that run through the four books—gray areas that will cause some readers to celebrate the ending and others to reject it. Whatever one thinks of how things turn out, however, there is no doubt that suspense and mystery will join them to the last word.

A fitting thrill ride of a conclusion to a four-book series packed with complex characters, motives, and themes that will delight and perhaps trouble, but not disappoint, fans of this series.

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-1492849261

Page Count: 198

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2015

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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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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

THE SILENT PATIENT

A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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