A fast-paced mystery featuring plenty of excitement.

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Skully, Perdition Games

Kidnapping, murder, and mind games are afoot in Fraser’s (Simon Says, 2014) latest thriller, which revisits PI Sam McNamara as she tackles a new case.

It’s July 1980, and pregnant Nina LeBlanc has been having a strange nightmare: she repeatedly dreams of abandoning her 5-year-old daughter, Gabriella, in the forest. Her husband, Quentin, says it’s nothing, but Nina is convinced she’s inherited her Scottish grandmother’s prophetic vision and that something terrible is going to happen to Gabriella. Her premonitions turn out to be all too true: Gabriella goes missing during the family’s vacation to a remote cabin and isn’t found until later, having killed the man who was physically and sexually abusing her. Ten years later, Quentin can tell there’s something wrong with Gabriella; his worst fears are confirmed when Isabella, her younger sister, is pushed from a treehouse. The story then flashes forward to the present day, when private detective Sam McNamara meets the adult Gabriella, not realizing they used to live next door to each other as children. Sam and her boyfriend, Reece, are reluctantly drawn into Gabriella’s life after she disappears, leaving nothing but a trail of blood and a 911 call saying her husband tried to kill her. Now, Sam and Reece must discover whether Gabriella is alive or dead—and who might have tried to murder her. Fraser’s second entry in the Perdition Games series is much stronger than the first. The writing throughout is taut and focused, capturing the reader’s attention and constantly upping the stakes as Sam tries to untangle the mystery that is Gabriella. Sam is a more compelling character this time around, too; as she wades through Gabriella’s past, she discovers things about her own that drive a wedge between her and Reece, allowing her to explore her own shortcomings and grow as a person. Although the novel gives away the answer to the mystery too soon, it still delivers a good dose of entertainment and moral ambiguity along the way.

A fast-paced mystery featuring plenty of excitement.

Pub Date: June 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9947742-0-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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