A deadly game involving a dangerous girl that does have a winner: the reader.

ROCK PAPER SCISSORS

From the The Lizzy Ballard Thrillers series , Vol. 1

A secret fertility experiment goes wrong in this thriller.

In Dalrymple’s (The Sense of Reckoning, 2015, etc.) latest novel, new parents Patrick and Charlotte Ballard are grateful to Gerard Bonnay; his wife, Dr. Louise Mortensen; and their fertility company, Vivantem, for helping them conceive what seems like a normal child. But when Lizzy is age 4, she changes. One afternoon, she gets upset when she falls and cuts her lip; her mother fares far worse. She gets a searing headache, which is literally Lizzy’s fault. It is the first of many times the girl becomes upset and inflicts a small stroke on her mother. Lizzy does the same thing to a classmate at preschool. “I squeezed his head,” she says about a boy who colored in her book. Lizzy can’t help her bad behavior; it’s in her DNA. Before she was born, Bonnay and Mortensen tinkered with her chromosomes in hopes of developing a telepath. Although not telepathic, Lizzy certainly has a unique talent—causing a person’s brain to bleed. After her parents recognize Lizzy’s power, Charlotte moves with her to a remote cabin to avoid her “squeezing” anyone else’s head and to ensure no one can discover her secret. Patrick visits the cabin on weekends, and a hired housekeeper, Ruby DiMano, comes on weekdays. Unbeknown to the Ballards, Bonnay pays Ruby to spy on the family. Unbeknown to Bonnay, Mitchell Pieda, another Vivantem baby, has developed the skills to “squeeze” and to read minds. Pieda isn’t reluctant to use his dual abilities. Once he reconnects with the Vivantem team, they decide to eliminate formidable Lizzy, now in her late teens. Dalrymple has written a fast-paced, complex thriller that can keep a reader engaged and off-kilter until its foreboding conclusion. The Vivantem conspirators chillingly term Lizzy “an experiment that didn’t work out.” The anxiety of protecting a child at all costs is palpable, as is the terror of not being able to control one’s own urges, however devastating they might be. A scene with Lizzy, Patrick, and a loud cellphone caller in a train’s “quiet car” is particularly unnerving. Readers should hope the author conceives of a sequel.

A deadly game involving a dangerous girl that does have a winner: the reader. 

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9862675-2-9

Page Count: 358

Publisher: William Kingsfield Publishers

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2017

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...

SUMMER ISLAND

Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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TRUE BETRAYALS

Thoroughbreds and Virginia blue-bloods cavort, commit murder, and fall in love in Roberts's (Hidden Riches, 1994, etc.) latest romantic thriller — this one set in the world of championship horse racing. Rich, sheltered Kelsey Byden is recovering from a recent divorce when she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi, a woman she has believed dead for over 20 years. When Kelsey confronts her genteel English professor father, though, he sheepishly confesses that, no, her mother isn't dead; throughout Kelsey's childhood, she was doing time for the murder of her lover. Kelsey meets with Naomi and not only finds her quite charming, but the owner of Three Willows, one of the most splendid horse farms in Virginia. Kelsey is further intrigued when she meets Gabe Slater, a blue-eyed gambling man who owns a neighboring horse farm; when one of Gabe's horses is mated with Naomi's, nostrils flare, flanks quiver, and the romance is on. Since both Naomi and Gabe have horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, Kelsey is soon swept into the whirlwind of the Triple Crown, in spite of her family's objections to her reconciliation with the notorious Naomi. The rivalry between the two horse farms remains friendly, but other competitors — one of them is Gabe's father, a vicious alcoholic who resents his son's success — prove less scrupulous. Bodies, horse and human, start piling up, just as Kelsey decides to investigate the murky details of her mother's crime. Is it possible she was framed? The ground is thick with no-goods, including haughty patricians, disgruntled grooms, and jockeys with tragic pasts, but despite all the distractions, the identity of the true culprit behind the mayhem — past and present — remains fairly obvious. The plot lopes rather than races to the finish. Gambling metaphors abound, and sexual doings have a distinctly equine tone. But Roberts's style has a fresh, contemporary snap that gets the story past its own worst excesses.

Pub Date: June 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-14059-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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