Thriller enthusiasts will want to add this well-sculpted heist drama to their collections.

LOST IN THE FOG

In this thriller, a security guard gets involved in a scheme to steal a trio of Matisse sculptures from a museum, a plan that ultimately leads him to fight for his innocence and his life.

Camden Swanson, a San Francisco security guard, admits to a stunningly tall, sexy woman: “I’m a lazy drunk who’s a complete loser.” On behalf of her “clients,” the unnamed woman hires him to be part of an elaborate art theft at the museum where he’s worked for six months. Formerly, Camden wrote for a newspaper in Boston, where he broke a story on a major art heist. Then, in San Francisco, he produced an LSD–fueled article claiming the city was under attack by monkeylike creatures that resulted in the end of his journalism career. Camden’s successful girlfriend, artist Georgia Léveque, supports him, but that gravy train is poised to derail. So the offer of a hefty payment to play a role with other co-workers (including the crushworthy Veronica Zarcarsky) in the robbery of three Matisses is an offer Camden can’t refuse. But before the theft can take place, another robber snags the sculptures. The tall woman’s clients, who believe Camden was part of the operation, are out for payback. Ostrowski, a former resident of both Boston and San Francisco, thoroughly knows the territory the intriguing characters roam. The places range from a hidden foodie gem in Boston’s North End to where the steep slope of Powell Street meets Sutter in the San Francisco fog. The author also worked as a gallery guard, but his name-checking of artists seems excessive, and his estimate of how much a successful young artist can command is unrealistic. Still, humor weaves throughout the smoothly written story. For example, Camden says his wine has an intense black cherry taste “with a hint of clowns on a bright summer day.” But the mood can change quickly. The tension rises in this enjoyable tale as unhappy clients attack, often fatally.

Thriller enthusiasts will want to add this well-sculpted heist drama to their collections.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-950301-11-9

Page Count: 374

Publisher: Quill

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2020

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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An unevenly paced thriller that fails to match its predecessor’s level of intensity.

THE FAMILY REMAINS

In this sequel to The Family Upstairs (2019), two siblings continue to deal with the fallout of their traumatic childhoods.

Lucy Lamb is living with her brother, Henry, after the two have been reunited, and she’s focused on reconnecting with her eldest daughter, Libby, and building a more stable life for her younger kids. But when Libby locates her birth father, Phin Thomsen, who lived as a teenager with Lucy and Henry—all their parents were part of a cult led by Phin’s father and died together in a suicide pact—the family begins making plans to go visit him in Botswana until word comes that Phin has taken a leave of absence from his job. After tracing Phin to Chicago, Henry leaves abruptly to go find him and cuts off all communication, prompting deep concern in Lucy, who knows of Henry’s dangerous obsession with Phin (which goes so deep that Henry has fashioned himself to look like Phin). Meanwhile, human remains have been found in the Thames and traced to the childhood home Libby inherited, which leaves all three wanted for police questioning when it is determined the victim lived with Henry, Lucy, and Libby in their childhood home and was murdered. Separately, an unrelated character named Rachel Rimmer remembers her disastrous marriage when she is contacted about her abusive husband’s murder. In this latest thriller, Jewell dives back into the psyche of Henry Lamb, one of her most unsettling characters. She attempts to weave together four narratives but takes too long to develop connections among the disparate stories (especially Rachel’s), which means the novel is weighted down with unrelated murder victims and minor characters, both of which detract from the suspense of Henry’s pursuit of Phin.

An unevenly paced thriller that fails to match its predecessor’s level of intensity.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-9821-7889-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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