A sharp, pitch-black thriller that takes the mean-girls trope to another level.

THE GIRLS ARE ALL SO NICE HERE

A woman’s dark past resurfaces at her 10-year college reunion in Flynn’s adult debut.

Thirty-one-year-old Ambrosia Wellington’s job as a PR flack for a Manhattan firm isn’t the acting career she had aspired to when she started her freshman year at Wesleyan University. But she’s married to genuine nice guy Adrian, who adores her. When her comfortable, if not quite perfect, life is disrupted with emails from Wesleyan’s alumni committee announcing the upcoming reunion, she ignores them, but then she gets an anonymous message that changes everything: “You need to come. We need to talk about what we did that night.”Nearly 14 years ago, Amb couldn’t wait to leave her working-class New Jersey roots behind when she arrived at Wesleyan. Her roommate, Flora, was exactly the type of “freshly scrubbed,” saccharine-sweet “try-hard” that she despised, so when she met the magnetic and deviously cruel Sloane Sullivan, Amb finally felt like she belonged, but Sully’s price of admission was steep. Riding a wave of booze, cocaine, and ceaseless casual, drunken hookups was damaging enough, but it’s her relentless pursuit of Flora’s Dartmouth boyfriend that leads to catastrophe. Now, at the reunion, Amb must face her past and put it to rest, all while preventing Adrian from finding out about that terrible year. Sully has also received threatening messages, and Amb is wary of trusting her, but the devil she knows might be her only choice. One thing is clear: A reckoning is inevitable, and it won’t be pretty. Watching the deeply insecure Ambrosia morph into the toxic Sully’s broken acolyte is like paying witness to a slow-motion train wreck. It’s hard to sympathize with Amb, but her self-aware narration, which alternates between past and present, illustrates how a vulnerable psyche can be twisted into something exceedingly ugly. The ever rising tide of dread will keep readers hooked even when they realize that a happy ending may not be in the cards.

A sharp, pitch-black thriller that takes the mean-girls trope to another level.

Pub Date: March 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982144-62-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Top-drawer crime fiction. The authors are tough on the hero, but the hero is tough.

THE RED BOOK

Patterson and Ellis put their characters through hell in this hard-edged second installment of their Black Book series after The Black Book (2017).

A young girl is one of four people gunned down in a “very, very bad” K-Town drive-by shooting in Chicago. Police are under intense political pressure to solve it, so Detective Billy Harney is assigned to the Special Operations Section to put the brakes on the gang violence on the West Side. His new partner is Detective Carla Griffin, whom colleagues describe as “sober as an undertaker” and “as fun as a case of hemorrhoids.” And she looks like the last thing he needs, a pill popper. (But is she?) Department muckety-mucks want Harney to fail, and Griffin is supposed to spy on him. The poor guy already has a hell of a backstory: His daughter died and his wife committed suicide (or did she?) four years earlier, he’s been shot in the head, charged with murder (and exonerated), and helped put his own father in prison. (Nothing like a tormented hero!) Now the deaths still haunt him while he and Griffin begin to suspect they’re not looking at a simple turf war starring the Imperial Gangster Nation. Meanwhile, the captain in Internal Affairs is deep in the pocket of some bad guys who run an international human trafficking ring, and he loathes Harney. The protagonist is lucky to have Patti, his sister and fellow detective, as his one reliable friend who lets him know he’s being set up. The authors do masterful work creating flawed characters to root for or against, and they certainly pile up the troubles for Billy Harney. Abundant nasty twists will hold readers’ rapt attention in this dark, violent, and fast-moving thriller.

Top-drawer crime fiction. The authors are tough on the hero, but the hero is tough.

Pub Date: March 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-49940-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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More slow-burning than most of Slaughter’s shockers, this one will still rattle you down to your bones.

THE SILENT WIFE

A Georgia prison inmate’s offer to unmask a phone-smuggling operation in return for reopening his pedophilia conviction leads Slaughter’s regulars into an eight-year-old case that strikes all too close to home.

Daryl Nesbitt insists to Will Trent and Faith Mitchell, of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, that he was railroaded by Grant County Detective Lena Adams and that the sexual images of children on his computer were fruit of the poisonous tree that should never have been admitted into evidence. He certainly didn’t attack Grant Tech student Rebecca Caterino, brutally assault her, and leave her for dead; the real scandals are that Lena, the ranking detective on the scene, didn’t realize that Beckey was alive till GBI medical examiner Sara Linton realized it half an hour after the police came on the scene and that after Lena sent Leslie Truong, the fellow student who found Beckey’s body, walking back to campus, Leslie was raped and murdered before she arrived. Not only are there horrors aplenty along the trail of what looks like a serial killer who may still be notching two victims a year, but revisiting the earlier crimes gives Slaughter, through a series of extended flashbacks, a chance to relitigate the breakup of Sara’s marriage to late Grant County chief of police Jeffrey Tolliver, who headed the investigation that sent Daryl Nesbitt to jail. Slaughter, renowned for her shocking opening sequences, this time reserves the horrors for her unflinching descriptions of the multiple assaults, some of which result in fates worse than death for the victims, and for Sara’s confrontation with a killer who’s both monstrous and all too human.

More slow-burning than most of Slaughter’s shockers, this one will still rattle you down to your bones.

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-285810-8

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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