A protagonist’s invisibility ignites a distinctive thriller jampacked with plot.

THE MAN FROM GRIFFINTOWN

A Canadian man’s sudden, unexplained invisibility makes him a target for countries determined to abuse his new powers of stealth in this debut thriller.

Georges Delson wakes up one morning to realize that he’s invisible. The Montreal native at first takes advantage of others’ inability to see him by stealing valuables. But when he humiliates despised former employers—called X , Y, and Z—he catches unwanted attention. His ex-bosses and the authorities pinpoint Georges as the possible culprit. He nonetheless finds an empathetic soul in Stéphane Laroche, a “good-looking” single female police captain who investigates cases involving unseen assailants (and whom he meets when he slips into her home one night while she’s drinking Grand Marnier). Others are less friendly: X, along with CIA and Russian agents, want Georges’ presumed technology or “formula” that makes him invisible. Georges soon learns that he had been an unwitting participant in an experiment, and one particular country later turns him into a type of covert agent primarily used for assassinations. As years pass, a sinister project creates Georges clones to carry out terrorist acts. Stéphane, whose feelings for Georges gradually deepen, searches for this elusive man whose life may be in danger. She also dodges attempts on her life, as she’s aware of Georges’ invisibility, and joins others in hunting whoever is behind the terrorist strikes. Markus’ book collects a trilogy, originally published in French, and the overall story is seamless and sharply paced, though generally somber. Book 1 is the strongest, as it focuses on Georges and learning the perks—and pitfalls—of his initially mysterious condition. The narrative becomes much denser by Book 2, as it expands to additional countries beyond Canada and to global concerns such as climate change. The final book organically shifts further toward SF, including a significant time jump and advanced artificial intelligence. The ending, however, introduces startling new elements that suggest a sequel more than they offer resolution.

A protagonist’s invisibility ignites a distinctive thriller jampacked with plot.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 425

Publisher: Manuscript

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2020

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Well-drawn characters introduce the criminal underworld to the occult kind in a breathless and compelling plot.

HELL BENT

From the Alex Stern series , Vol. 2

A Yale sophomore fights for her life as she balances academics with supernatural extracurriculars in this smart fantasy thriller, the second in a series.

Galaxy “Alex” Stern is a member of Lethe House, the ninth of Yale’s secret societies. And not just any member—she’s Virgil, the officer who conducts the society's rituals. In the world of Bardugo’s Alex Stern series, Yale’s secret societies command not just powerful social networks, but actual magic; it’s Lethe’s job to keep that magic in control. Alex is new to the role. She had to take over in a hurry after the previous Virgil, Darlington, her mentor and love interest, disappeared in a cliffhanger at the end of the first book. He appears to be in hell, but is he stuck there for good? Alex and Pamela Dawes—Lethe’s Oculus, or archivist/administrator—have found a reference to a pathway called a Gauntlet that can open a portal to hell, but can they find the Gauntlet itself? And what about the four murderers the Gauntlet ritual requires? Meanwhile, Alex’s past as a small-time drug dealer is catching up with her, adding gritty street crime to the demonic white-collar evil the Yale crowd tends to prefer. The plot is relentless and clever, and the writing is vivid, intelligent, and funny at just the right moments, but best of all are the complex characters, such as the four murderers, each with a backstory that makes it possible for the reader to trust them to enter hell and have the strength to leave again. Like the first book, this one ends with a cliffhanger.

Well-drawn characters introduce the criminal underworld to the occult kind in a breathless and compelling plot.

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-31310-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

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

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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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