Rice’s compelling heroine and crisp prose lift her brisk thriller above the formulaic.

THE SHADOW BOX

An artist comes back from the dead to help catch her killer.

Addressing the reader with disconcerting directness, Claire Beaudry Chase explains that she’s died. This turns out to be a half-truth; she’s awakened after having been strangled and left for dead by a man in a black mask—whom she presumes to be Griffin, her husband. Claire is expected that evening at the Woodward-Lathrop Gallery for the opening of her new art exhibit, and when she doesn't arrive, Griffin, a Connecticut State’s Attorney and candidate for governor, shows appropriate concern. Conor Reid, a detective with the state police, is at the opening with his girlfriend, Kate Woodward, who owns the gallery, and his sister-in-law, Jackie, who runs it. Claire goes into hiding and slowly recovers, her belief in Griffin's guilt intensified by the memory of his girlfriend Ellen's suspicious suicide a generation ago. Meanwhile, Conor begins to investigate what happened to Claire the night of the opening. Claire’s revelations alternate with accounts of Conor’s probe and the investigation of a second mystery. A couple sailing on Long Island Sound discovers Dan Benson clinging to what’s left of his boat. His wife, Sallie, and their children, Gwen and Charlie, are missing. Chapters from Sallie’s perspective, leading up to the incident, are folded in. Rice front-loads the plot and introduces a daunting number of characters early on, but Claire’s absorbing narration keeps the story afloat until some important distinctions and connections become clearer. Once a link between the two stories is established, Conor’s probe proceeds quickly, aided by Jackie and eventually the resurrected Claire.

Rice’s compelling heroine and crisp prose lift her brisk thriller above the formulaic.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5420-0955-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

FAIRY TALE

Narnia on the Penobscot: a grand, and naturally strange, entertainment from the ever prolific King.

What’s a person to do when sheltering from Covid? In King’s case, write something to entertain himself while reflecting on what was going on in the world outside—ravaged cities, contentious politics, uncertainty. King’s yarn begins in a world that’s recognizably ours, and with a familiar trope: A young woman, out to buy fried chicken, is mashed by a runaway plumber’s van, sending her husband into an alcoholic tailspin and her son into a preadolescent funk, driven “bugfuck” by a father who “was always trying to apologize.” The son makes good by rescuing an elderly neighbor who’s fallen off a ladder, though he protests that the man’s equally elderly German shepherd, Radar, was the true hero. Whatever the case, Mr. Bowditch has an improbable trove of gold in his Bates Motel of a home, and its origin seems to lie in a shed behind the house, one that Mr. Bowditch warns the boy away from: “ ‘Don’t go in there,’ he said. ‘You may in time, but for now don’t even think of it.’ ” It’s not Pennywise who awaits in the underworld behind the shed door, but there’s plenty that’s weird and unexpected, including a woman, Dora, whose “skin was slate gray and her face was cruelly deformed,” and a whole bunch of people—well, sort of people, anyway—who’d like nothing better than to bring their special brand of evil up to our world’s surface. King’s young protagonist, Charlie Reade, is resourceful beyond his years, but it helps that the old dog gains some of its youthful vigor in the depths below. King delivers a more or less traditional fable that includes a knowing nod: “I think I know what you want,” Charlie tells the reader, "and now you have it”—namely, a happy ending but with a suitably sardonic wink.

A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66800-217-9

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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Not the best of Connelly’s procedurals, but nobody else does them better than his second-best.

DESERT STAR

A snap of the yo-yo string yanks Harry Bosch out of retirement yet again.

Los Angeles Councilman Jake Pearlman has resurrected the LAPD’s Open-Unsolved Unit in order to reopen the case of his kid sister, Sarah, whose 1994 murder was instantly eclipsed in the press by the O.J. Simpson case when it broke a day later. Since not even a councilor can reconstitute a police unit for a single favored case, Det. Renée Ballard and her mostly volunteer (read: unpaid) crew are expected to reopen some other cold cases as well, giving Bosch a fresh opportunity to gather evidence against Finbar McShane, the crooked manager he’s convinced executed industrial contractor Stephen Gallagher, his wife, and their two children in 2013 and buried them in a single desert grave. The case has haunted Bosch more than any other he failed to close, and he’s fine to work the Pearlman homicide if it’ll give him another crack at McShane. As it turns out, the Pearlman case is considerably more interesting—partly because the break that leads the unit to a surprising new suspect turns out to be both fraught and misleading, partly because identifying the killer is only the beginning of Bosch’s problems. The windup of the Gallagher murders, a testament to sweating every detail and following every lead wherever it goes, is more heartfelt but less wily and dramatic. Fans of the aging detective who fear that he might be mellowing will be happy to hear that “putting him on a team did not make him a team player.”

Not the best of Connelly’s procedurals, but nobody else does them better than his second-best.

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-48565-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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