Despite some missteps, a thought-provoking debut.

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KISMET

In this age of data insecurity, the premise of Tredget’s first novel is highly topical.

A dating app called Kismet identifies ideal matches, on a scale of one to 100, based on the internet profiles people build up through online activity. Since users can’t easily manipulate their profiles, Kismet scores can’t be inflated. So when Anna, already cohabiting with Pete—ranked 70 for her—has a chance meeting with her highest score to date, Geoff, an 81, what’s an almost-engaged, on-the-cusp-of-turning-30, beleaguered magazine writer to do? Once this intriguing hook is cast, the novel’s execution slackens. The main driver of suspense is the question of whom Anna ends up with. On the way to a conclusion that, to the author’s credit, is far from foregone, there are many segments whose sole functions seem to be expanding material that could have been dispatched in a novella to 400 pages. Anna’s extended birthday celebration is a case in point: At a pub session followed by a dinner party, Anna and her friends relate rambling and none-too-scintillating anecdotes almost in real time. Her character is assembled like a recipe: Mix two parts creative inventiveness with one part recently diagnosed depression and a dash of recent bereavement, then bake in a convection oven swirling with premature midlife dread. Still, Anna’s crises are refreshingly non–gender specific. She intends to control her own destiny irrespective of whom she’s paired with and takes the blame for her own bad decisions. In one scene that readers burned out with angst-ridden heroines like the one in the New Yorker story "Cat Person" will appreciate, she gets herself into a potentially compromising position with a date and then decides not to sleep with him because “she just doesn’t want to.” Tredget is obviously in tune with the travesties wrought, and ethical quandaries posed, by corporate-controlled media: His protagonist’s work debacles amply illustrate the increasingly blurred lines between journalism and advertising.

Despite some missteps, a thought-provoking debut.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-41829-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable...

THE UNHONEYMOONERS

An unlucky woman finally gets lucky in love on an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii.

From getting her hand stuck in a claw machine at age 6 to losing her job, Olive Torres has never felt that luck was on her side. But her fortune changes when she scores a free vacation after her identical twin sister and new brother-in-law get food poisoning at their wedding buffet and are too sick to go on their honeymoon. The only catch is that she’ll have to share the honeymoon suite with her least favorite person—Ethan Thomas, the brother of the groom. To make matters worse, Olive’s new boss and Ethan’s ex-girlfriend show up in Hawaii, forcing them both to pretend to be newlyweds so they don’t blow their cover, as their all-inclusive vacation package is nontransferable and in her sister’s name. Plus, Ethan really wants to save face in front of his ex. The story is told almost exclusively from Olive’s point of view, filtering all communication through her cynical lens until Ethan can win her over (and finally have his say in the epilogue). To get to the happily-ever-after, Ethan doesn’t have to prove to Olive that he can be a better man, only that he was never the jerk she thought he was—for instance, when she thought he was judging her for eating cheese curds, maybe he was actually thinking of asking her out. Blending witty banter with healthy adult communication, the fake newlyweds have real chemistry as they talk it out over snorkeling trips, couples massages, and a few too many tropical drinks to get to the truth—that they’re crazy about each other.

Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable as well as free.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2803-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

OUTFOX

An FBI agent is determined to catch a man who bilks and murders wealthy women, but the chase goes slowly.

Brown (Tailspin, 2018, etc.) has published 70 bestsellers, and this one employs her usual template of thriller spiked with romance. Its main character, Drex Easton, is an FBI agent in pursuit of a serial killer, but for him it’s personal. When he was a boy, his mother left him and his father for another man, Weston Graham. Drex believes Graham murdered her and that he has killed at least seven more women after emptying their bank accounts. Now he thinks he has the clever Graham—current alias Jasper Ford—in his sights, and he’s willing to put his career at risk to catch him. The women Ford targets are wealthy, and his new prey is no exception—except that, uncharacteristically, he has married her. Talia Ford proves to be a complication for Drex, who instantly falls in lust with her even though he’s not at all sure she isn’t her husband's accomplice. Posing as a would-be novelist, Drex moves into an apartment next door to the Fords’ posh home and tries to ingratiate himself, but tensions rise immediately—Jasper is suspicious, and Talia has mixed feelings about Drex's flirtatious behavior. When Talia’s fun-loving friend Elaine Conner turns up dead after a cruise on her yacht and Jasper disappears, Drex and Talia become allies. There are a few action sequences and fewer sex scenes, but the novel’s pace bogs down repeatedly in long, mundane conversations. Drex's two FBI agent sidekicks are more interesting characters than he is; Drex himself is such a caricature of a macho man, so heedless of ethics, and so aggressive toward women that it’s tough to see him as a good guy. Brown adds a couple of implausible twists at the very end that make him seem almost as untrustworthy as Graham.

This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4555-7219-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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