Enthralling drama permeates this extraordinary sophomore novel.

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A lawyer’s sighting of a strangely familiar boy stirs up memories of his troubled past in Ristau’s metaphysical sequel novel, set in 2001.

By all appearances, Ricky Williamson has made a good life for himself as a single 35-year-old attorney living in the Midwest. However, he’s still recovering from the trauma of being beaten and raped at summer camp 25 years before. During a morning run, he finds a boy floating face-up in a lake, apparently in trouble. He pulls him to safety and sees that he looks a lot like he did when he was 10 years old. The lawyer’s mind keeps pulling him back to his days at camp; since that time, he’s suffered bouts of depression and has been prone to violent outbursts. He’s also having problems at his latest job, where he’s unearthed shady business practices. However, the amnesiac boy, whom Ricky takes in, helps him to reexamine the life he’s led and think about changing it for the better. Ristau’s follow-up to A Hero Dreams (2017), like its predecessor, is a painstaking character study. Ricky’s ever winding path from childhood to adulthood features bright moments and dark troubles. His hostility toward his enemies, such as a boss who bullies him, builds up through the years, and in 2001, he seems on the verge of exploding. The sharply written narrative gives Ricky a shot at making better choices; the latter half dives deep into his memories and fantasies, sparking an indelible dreamlike section as Ricky revisits the trauma that’s long weighed on him. Moreover, real-world history plays a significant role in the plot, including the looming 9/11 attacks. Although it’s not a necessity, readers should read the earlier book in the series first, as it further enriches this one, which may pave the way for a third installment.

Enthralling drama permeates this extraordinary sophomore novel.

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-64343-794-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Beaver's Pond Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2022


The most richly accomplished of the brothers’ pairings to date—and given Connelly’s high standards, that’s saying a lot.

Harry Bosch and the Lincoln Lawyer team up to exonerate a woman who’s already served five years for killing her ex-husband.

The evidence against Lucinda Sanz was so overwhelming that she followed the advice of Frank Silver, the B-grade attorney who’d elbowed his way onto her defense, and pleaded no contest to manslaughter to avoid a life sentence for shooting Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Roberto Sanz in the back as he stalked out of her yard after their latest argument. But now that her son, Eric, is 13, old enough to get recruited by local gangs, she wants to be out of stir and at his side. So she writes to Mickey Haller, who asks his half-brother for help. After all his years working for the LAPD, Bosch is adamant about not working for a criminal defendant, even though Haller’s already taken him on as an associate so that he can get access to private health insurance and a UCLA medical trial for an experimental cancer treatment. But the habeas corpus hearing Haller’s aiming for isn’t, strictly speaking, a criminal defense proceeding, and even a cursory examination of the forensic evidence raises Bosch’s hackles. Bolstered by Bosch’s discoveries and a state-of-the-art digital reconstruction of the shooting, Haller heads to court to face Assistant Attorney General Hayden Morris, who has a few tricks up his own sleeve. The endlessly resourceful courtroom back-and-forth is furious in its intensity, although Haller eventually upstages Bosch, Morris, and everyone else in sight. What really stands out here, however, is that Connelly never lets you forget, from his title onward, the life-or-death issues behind every move in the game.

The most richly accomplished of the brothers’ pairings to date—and given Connelly’s high standards, that’s saying a lot.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9780316563765

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023


Loyal King stans may disagree, but this is a snooze.

A much-beloved author gives a favorite recurring character her own novel.

Holly Gibney made her first appearance in print with a small role in Mr. Mercedes (2014). She played a larger role in The Outsider (2018). And she was the central character in If It Bleeds, a novella in the 2020 collection of the same name. King has said that the character “stole his heart.” Readers adore her, too. One way to look at this book is as several hundred pages of fan service. King offers a lot of callbacks to these earlier works that are undoubtedly a treat for his most loyal devotees. That these easter eggs are meaningless and even befuddling to new readers might make sense in terms of costs and benefits. King isn’t exactly an author desperate to grow his audience; pleasing the people who keep him at the top of the bestseller lists is probably a smart strategy, and this writer achieved the kind of status that whatever he writes is going to be published. Having said all that, it’s possible that even his hardcore fans might find this story a bit slow. There are also issues in terms of style. Much of the language King uses and the cultural references he drops feel a bit creaky. The word slacks occurs with distracting frequency. King uses the phrase keeping it on the down-low in a way that suggests he probably doesn’t understand how this phrase is currently used—and has been used for quite a while. But the biggest problem is that this narrative is framed as a mystery without delivering the pleasures of a mystery. The reader knows who the bad guys are from the start. This can be an effective storytelling device, but in this case, waiting for the private investigator heroine to get to where the reader is at the beginning of the story feels interminable.

Loyal King stans may disagree, but this is a snooze.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781668016138

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

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