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LOST IN THE FOG

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

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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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THEN SHE WAS GONE

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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THE HOUSE ACROSS THE LAKE

A weird, wild ride.

Celebrity scandal and a haunted lake drive the narrative in this bestselling author’s latest serving of subtly ironic suspense.

Sager’s debut, Final Girls (2017), was fun and beautifully crafted. His most recent novels—Home Before Dark (2020) and Survive the Night (2021) —have been fun and a bit rickety. His new novel fits that mold. Narrator Casey Fletcher grew up watching her mother dazzle audiences, and then she became an actor herself. While she never achieves the “America’s sweetheart” status her mother enjoyed, Casey makes a career out of bit parts in movies and on TV and meatier parts onstage. Then the death of her husband sends her into an alcoholic spiral that ends with her getting fired from a Broadway play. When paparazzi document her substance abuse, her mother exiles her to the family retreat in Vermont. Casey has a dry, droll perspective that persists until circumstances overwhelm her, and if you’re getting a Carrie Fisher vibe from Casey Fletcher, that is almost certainly not an accident. Once in Vermont, she passes the time drinking bourbon and watching the former supermodel and the tech mogul who live across the lake through a pair of binoculars. Casey befriends Katherine Royce after rescuing her when she almost drowns and soon concludes that all is not well in Katherine and Tom’s marriage. Then Katherine disappears….It would be unfair to say too much about what happens next, but creepy coincidences start piling up, and eventually, Casey has to face the possibility that maybe some of the eerie legends about Lake Greene might have some truth to them. Sager certainly delivers a lot of twists, and he ventures into what is, for him, new territory. Are there some things that don’t quite add up at the end? Maybe, but asking that question does nothing but spoil a highly entertaining read.

A weird, wild ride.

Pub Date: June 21, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-18319-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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