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FOUR REASONS TO DIE

A PASTOR MATT HAYDEN MYSTERY

From the The Pastor Matt Hayden Mystery Series series , Vol. 4

An entertaining and sometimes-poignant work of detective fiction.

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An ex-cop–turned-pastor must use his investigative skills to figure out what happened to a missing clergyman in Gresham’s latest series mystery.

When Matt Hayden, an elderly pastor on medical leave after getting shot in the previous series installment,attends the inauguration of his best friend’s son, Jimmy Novak, as the governor of Texas, he doesn’t expect to give the benediction. He fills in for David Duff, another pastor, who doesn’t show up. Matt stays for a celebratory barbecue, and afterward, he’s ambushed by reporters, and all the excitement causes the ill pastor to pass out. After awakening in a hospital, Matt is advised to stay in Austin; his best friend, James W. Novak, arranges for him to stay in the home of Hester Honeywell, who previously hosted Duff and Duff’s assistant, Pastor Greg Lambert. When Duff is finally declared a missing person, Matt joins the investigation. At the same time, he tries to respect his own physical limitations and work on his relationship with his fiancee, bar owner Angie O’Day. Gresham, who also wrote Murder in the Second Pew (2017), returns with another compelling mystery. From the start, the author will draw readers in with his uniquely cautious protagonist—a rare fictional detective who tries to avoid excitement and distress due to the possibility that they might raise his blood pressure. He also necessarily uses a cane to get around despite the fact he’s never happy to be reminded to use it. Most readers wouldn’t expect someone so fragile to be working a missing person case, but the author makes it feel plausible by putting Matt in just the right place at the right time. Matt also intriguingly works to figure out Angie’s feelings for him; since his injury, she’s been more of a caretaker than a lover. Overall, it’s an engaging tale, told at an appealing pace, despite its lack of closure at the end.

An entertaining and sometimes-poignant work of detective fiction.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2021

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 360

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2021

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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DEVOLUTION

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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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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