More like a con than a truly satisfying psychological mystery.

LOCAL WOMAN MISSING

What should be a rare horror—a woman gone missing—becomes a pattern in Kubica's latest thriller.

One night, a young mother goes for a run. She never comes home. A few weeks later, the body of Meredith, another missing woman, is found with a self-inflicted knife wound; the only clue about the fate of her still-missing 6-year-old daughter, Delilah, is a note that reads, "You’ll never find her. Don’t even try." Eleven years later, a girl escapes from a basement where she’s been held captive and severely abused; she reports that she is Delilah. Kubica alternates between chapters in the present narrated by Delilah’s younger brother, Leo, now 15 and resentful of the hold Delilah’s disappearance and Meredith’s death have had on his father, and chapters from 11 years earlier, narrated by Meredith and her neighbor Kate. Meredith begins receiving texts that threaten to expose her and tear her life apart; she struggles to keep them, and her anxiety, from her family as she goes through the motions of teaching yoga and working as a doula. One client in particular worries her; Meredith fears her husband might be abusing her, and she's also unhappy with the way the woman’s obstetrician treats her. So this novel is both a mystery about what led to Meredith’s death and Delilah’s imprisonment and the story of what Delilah's return might mean to her family and all their well-meaning neighbors. Someone is not who they seem; someone has been keeping secrets for 11 long years. The chapters complement one another like a patchwork quilt, slowly revealing the rotten heart of a murderer amid a number of misdirections. The main problem: As it becomes clear whodunit, there’s no true groundwork laid for us to believe that this person would behave at all the way they do.

More like a con than a truly satisfying psychological mystery.

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-778-38944-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Park Row Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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Top-drawer crime fiction. The authors are tough on the hero, but the hero is tough.

THE RED BOOK

Patterson and Ellis put their characters through hell in this hard-edged second installment of their Black Book series after The Black Book (2017).

A young girl is one of four people gunned down in a “very, very bad” K-Town drive-by shooting in Chicago. Police are under intense political pressure to solve it, so Detective Billy Harney is assigned to the Special Operations Section to put the brakes on the gang violence on the West Side. His new partner is Detective Carla Griffin, whom colleagues describe as “sober as an undertaker” and “as fun as a case of hemorrhoids.” And she looks like the last thing he needs, a pill popper. (But is she?) Department muckety-mucks want Harney to fail, and Griffin is supposed to spy on him. The poor guy already has a hell of a backstory: His daughter died and his wife committed suicide (or did she?) four years earlier, he’s been shot in the head, charged with murder (and exonerated), and helped put his own father in prison. (Nothing like a tormented hero!) Now the deaths still haunt him while he and Griffin begin to suspect they’re not looking at a simple turf war starring the Imperial Gangster Nation. Meanwhile, the captain in Internal Affairs is deep in the pocket of some bad guys who run an international human trafficking ring, and he loathes Harney. The protagonist is lucky to have Patti, his sister and fellow detective, as his one reliable friend who lets him know he’s being set up. The authors do masterful work creating flawed characters to root for or against, and they certainly pile up the troubles for Billy Harney. Abundant nasty twists will hold readers’ rapt attention in this dark, violent, and fast-moving thriller.

Top-drawer crime fiction. The authors are tough on the hero, but the hero is tough.

Pub Date: March 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-49940-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Crave chills and thrills but don’t have time for a King epic? This will do the job before bedtime. Not that you’ll sleep.

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LATER

Horrormeister King follows a boy’s journey from childhood to adolescence among the dead—and their even creepier living counterparts.

Jamie Conklin sees dead people. Not for very long—they fade away after a week or so—but during that time he can talk to them, ask them questions, and compel them to answer truthfully. His uncanny gift at first seems utterly unrelated to his mother Tia’s work as a literary agent, but the links become disturbingly clear when her star client, Regis Thomas, dies shortly after starting work on the newest entry in his bestselling Roanoke Saga, and Tia and her lover, NYPD Detective Liz Dutton, drive Jamie out to Cobblestone Cottage to encourage the late author to dictate an outline of his latest page-turner so that Tia, who’s fallen on hard times, can write it in his name instead of returning his advance and her cut. Now that she’s seen what Jamie can do, Liz takes it on herself to arrange an interview in which Jamie will ask Kenneth Therriault, a serial bomber who’s just killed himself, where he’s stowed his latest explosive device before it can explode posthumously. His post-mortem encounter with Therriault exacts a high price on Jamie, who now finds himself more haunted than ever, though he never gives up on the everyday experiences in which King roots all his nightmares.

Crave chills and thrills but don’t have time for a King epic? This will do the job before bedtime. Not that you’ll sleep.

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7890-9649-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Hard Case Crime

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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