YOUR FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD CRIMINAL

Van Rooy, the Canadian writer who died earlier this year, offers the second, and presumably last, installment in the rambunctious saga of an ex-con who insists against all the evidence that he wants to go straight.

It’s not easy to stay on the straight and narrow when your most adventurous job is as a babysitter. Just ask Montgomery Haaviko (An Ordinary Decent Criminal, 2010), who’s trying to make a decent life for his wife Claire and their baby son Fred in sunny Manitoba. The provocations to backsliding are considerable. Claire, who has designs on the real-estate market, drags Monty along to hear a pitch from Marie Blue Duck about smuggling illegals into Canada. Naturally, Monty doesn’t want to get involved, but at length he agrees to throw in with Marie. Before they can launch their enterprise, however, Monty has to purge their little cooperative of Greg Whitefox, the smuggler/thief/lowlife who’s all too likely to bring trouble down on their heads. And he has to handle Samantha Ritchot, the meth dealer Greg told about Marie’s plan, and her legion of thugs. And he has to clean out the crack house that’s sullying his own neighborhood. And, once it’s cleaned out, he has to make sure it stays clean. Mostly, though, he has to deal with his old friend Smiley, a fellow con who’s turned up on his doorstep demanding shelter, a piece of the action and, just possibly, a pound of flesh on behalf of Samantha. Don’t be fooled by Monty’s casual tone or throwaway wisecracks. He is one tough hombre, and his story is fast, brutal and sad, only because it may be the last we hear of him.

 

Pub Date: July 5, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-312-60630-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2011

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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

THE SILENT PATIENT

A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

OUTFOX

An FBI agent is determined to catch a man who bilks and murders wealthy women, but the chase goes slowly.

Brown (Tailspin, 2018, etc.) has published 70 bestsellers, and this one employs her usual template of thriller spiked with romance. Its main character, Drex Easton, is an FBI agent in pursuit of a serial killer, but for him it’s personal. When he was a boy, his mother left him and his father for another man, Weston Graham. Drex believes Graham murdered her and that he has killed at least seven more women after emptying their bank accounts. Now he thinks he has the clever Graham—current alias Jasper Ford—in his sights, and he’s willing to put his career at risk to catch him. The women Ford targets are wealthy, and his new prey is no exception—except that, uncharacteristically, he has married her. Talia Ford proves to be a complication for Drex, who instantly falls in lust with her even though he’s not at all sure she isn’t her husband's accomplice. Posing as a would-be novelist, Drex moves into an apartment next door to the Fords’ posh home and tries to ingratiate himself, but tensions rise immediately—Jasper is suspicious, and Talia has mixed feelings about Drex's flirtatious behavior. When Talia’s fun-loving friend Elaine Conner turns up dead after a cruise on her yacht and Jasper disappears, Drex and Talia become allies. There are a few action sequences and fewer sex scenes, but the novel’s pace bogs down repeatedly in long, mundane conversations. Drex's two FBI agent sidekicks are more interesting characters than he is; Drex himself is such a caricature of a macho man, so heedless of ethics, and so aggressive toward women that it’s tough to see him as a good guy. Brown adds a couple of implausible twists at the very end that make him seem almost as untrustworthy as Graham.

This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4555-7219-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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