This well-written thriller’s complex plotting and characterization make for a fine read.


Where the Bones of a Buried Rat Lie


In Ekemar’s (The Lost Identity Causalities, 2014, etc.) second thriller in a planned four-book series, Matthias Callaghan returns to London, where he takes on the identity of his late father.

In this latest installment, the author regales readers with multiple plots, cons, identities, and possible outcomes. His protagonist, Callaghan, is back with yet another transplanted face—this time, his dead dad’s. Ostensibly, Callaghan is dead himself, as far as anyone else knows; however, since he and his father so closely resembled each other, he finds it convenient (and sometimes necessary) to switch personas, depending on whom he’s dealing with. He soon finds that he must deal with dogged policemen, gangsters, and even the re-emergence of his ex-wife. Ekemar uses much of this second book to further develop Callaghan as a character—a Jekyll-and-Hyde figure who’s sometimes charming and other times a complete sociopath. Readers will be jolted when the affable Callaghan’s evil persona periodically emerges: “How could I get Rathbone killed without getting myself involved?” This is multilayered writing at its best, as plot tendrils reach in all directions, and at its center is Callaghan himself—a victim of mistaken identity, named after the biblical disciple who replaced Judas, who morphs into a kind of avenging angel. What’s most intriguing about him is that however despicable he becomes, readers will still empathize with him. This is due partly to Ekemar’s skillful writing and partly because Callaghan’s fall began long ago, when he was the victim of a brutal attack. It also doesn’t hurt that the people he takes down are often, though not always, more despicable than he is. Unlike in the first book, which could stand alone, only one of Callaghan’s new plotlines here comes to fruition; most of what happens is used to set up events in future installments. This novel, however, depends heavily on what came before, which makes reading the first part of the Callaghan Tetralogy a prerequisite. That said, it’s a must for those who enjoyed the previous volume.

This well-written thriller’s complex plotting and characterization make for a fine read.

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-1492827665

Page Count: 186

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.


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.


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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