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Enough murders, past and present, to sate all but the most voracious serial-killer buffs.

The fourth of Gardiner’s UNSUB series opens a door into what seems like an endless series of homicides.

Arrested by Jessup County Deputy Marius Hayes in a Tennessee motel parking lot, drifter Efrem Judah Goode insists he had nothing to do with the deaths of the three women inside the motel or the fourth, also mummy-wrapped with duct tape, in the back seat of the car he’d been driving. But he’s perfectly willing to cop to 13 other homicides stretching back to 2003. He’s unsurprisingly convicted of the four brand-new murders as well, but Special Agent Caitlin Hendrix of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, isn’t satisfied. Working with other members of the unit willing to put in endless hours in pursuit of scant evidence, she realizes that this new streak of murders, which continues apace while Goode is safely imprisoned, is the work of a copycat. Acting on further information from Finch Winter, an adopted teen who’s convinced that her birth mother was one of Goode’s victims, she uncovers enough links between Goode and the copycat to reach a truly alarming conclusion: Yesteryear’s killer knows perfectly well about his latter-day imitator and is doing his best to provide information and directives about potential victims from his prison cell. As the bodies dot roadsides from the Southeast to New York, Caitlin, who also gets potentially distracting hints that the elusive killer she’s called the Ghost is still active, struggles to come up with a reason why at least two different killers would target so many victims from so many places for such a long time. Readers will likely be divided on whether the final surprises are worth the slog.

Enough murders, past and present, to sate all but the most voracious serial-killer buffs.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2023

ISBN: 9781982627522

Page Count: 330

Publisher: Blackstone

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

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Small-town claustrophobia and intimacies alike propel this twist-filled psychological thriller.

The loss of her police officer father and the discovery of an abandoned car in a local lake raise chilling questions regarding a young woman’s family history.

When Hazel Sharp returns to her hometown of Mirror Lake, North Carolina, for her father’s memorial, she and the other townspeople are confronted by a challenging double whammy: As they’re grieving the loss of beloved longtime police officer Detective Perry Holt, a disturbing sight appears in the lake, whose waterline is receding because of an ongoing drought—an old, unidentifiable car, which has likely been lurking there for years. Hazel temporarily leaves her Charlotte-based building-renovation business in the capable hands of her partners and reconnects with her brothers, Caden and Gage; her Uncle Roy; her old fling and neighbor, Nico; and her schoolfriend, Jamie, now a mother and married to Caden. Tiny, relentless suspicions rise to the metaphorical surface along with that waterlogged vehicle: There have been a slew of minor break-ins; two people go missing; and then, a second abandoned car is discovered. The novel digs deeper into Hazel’s family history—her father was a widow when he married Hazel’s mother, who later left the family, absconding with money and jewels—and Miranda, a consummate professional when it comes to exposing the small community tensions that naturally arise when people live in close proximity for generations, exposes revelation after twisty revelation: “Everything mattered disproportionately in a small town. Your success, but also your failure. Everyone knows might as well have been our town motto.”

Small-town claustrophobia and intimacies alike propel this twist-filled psychological thriller.

Pub Date: April 9, 2024

ISBN: 9781668010440

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Marysue Rucci Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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