A satisfying mystery as well as a complex portrait of the effects of emotional trauma and mental illness.

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THE UNFORGOTTEN

Cornwall, 1956: a young woman is drawn to an older man who's come to investigate a string of murders in Powell’s debut psychological thriller.

When a series of gruesome murders terrorizes the seaside town of St. Steele, reporters descend on the Cornish coast to get the scoop. The men take up residence at a boardinghouse run by the lovely and unstable Dolores Broadbent and her daughter, Betty. At 15, Betty often takes on the responsibility of running the hotel because of her mother’s tendency to drown her loneliness in alcohol. She exudes confidence as a flirt with the local boys but finds herself tongue-tied around the male reporters, especially the irascible Mr. Gallagher, who seems content to tap her as a “cheap source” for information about the chief murder suspect. Soon, however, they develop an undeniable attraction despite the fact that Mr. Gallagher is twice Betty’s age, and, against the grisly backdrop of the town tragedy, they begin a star-crossed love affair. The novel cuts between the story of that summer in 1956 and the actions of a character named Mary 50 years later. No spoilers here, but the two narratives are, of course, inextricably linked. While it’s a bit hard to accept the May-December romance between the main characters, the effect that this relationship has on Betty is harrowing. The second half of the novel, tracing Betty’s psychological trauma, is haunting and complex. It’s a real portrait of mental illness, and while it doesn’t make for light reading, it creates an emotional impact. There is, of course, also a reveal of the real killer in the last 20 pages, and the mystery is fairly believable and chilling.

A satisfying mystery as well as a complex portrait of the effects of emotional trauma and mental illness.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-8122-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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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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