Joss begins her psychological vivisection where other suspense novelists leave off. The results are extraordinary.



A calamitous accident is followed by an even more unsettling event in this sixth helping of psychological suspense from Joss (Half Broken Things, 2005, etc.).

Minutes after discovering that her husband, a Wiltshire anesthesiologist, is cheating on her, the nameless narrator, professing that the end of her marriage really doesn’t matter, inadvertently runs over a bicyclist and kills her. Leaving her victim, retired teacher Ruth Mitchell, in the road and driving off is cruel enough to her but even crueler to Ruth’s husband Arthur. Disconnected and disoriented, Arthur begins writing letters to his dead wife at the suggestion of a friend, and the correspondence takes on a disturbing life of its own when he begins to seek some sign of her everywhere, including in their house and garden, and in The Cold and the Beauty and the Dark, the unfinished novel she’d been writing. As Ruth’s novel-within-a-novel unfolds, the story of Evelyn Ashworth’s betrayal first by her husband and then by his uncle between 1932 and 1956, it gradually becomes clear both that her characters are more solid and substantial, albeit less nuanced, than Joss’s own, and that the two sets of characters have some definite connection. Arthur, withdrawing from the well-intentioned neighbors determined to comfort him over his most violent objections, searches more and more urgently for that connection. Meantime, Ruth’s accidental killer, drawn by motives deeper and more obscure than mere remorse, takes to watching Arthur’s house and insinuating herself into it, taking the place of the woman whose life she ended. Joss’s exploration of her loners’ doomed attempts to reach outside themselves will remind readers of Ruth Rendell and Minette Walters, but her pathology is even more elliptical.

Joss begins her psychological vivisection where other suspense novelists leave off. The results are extraordinary.

Pub Date: March 4, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-385-34118-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2008

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.


Piper Manning is determined to sell her family’s property so she can leave her hometown behind, but when her siblings come back with life-changing secrets and her sexy neighbor begins to feel like “The One,” she might have to redo her to-do list.

As children, Piper and her younger siblings, Gavin and Winnie, were sent to live with their grandparents in Wildstone, California, from the Congo after one of Gavin’s friends was killed. Their parents were supposed to meet them later but never made it. Piper wound up being more of a parent than her grandparents, though: “In the end, Piper had done all the raising. It’d taken forever, but now, finally, her brother and sister were off living their own lives.” Piper, the queen of the bullet journal, plans to fix up the family’s lakeside property her grandparents left the three siblings when they died. Selling it will enable her to study to be a physician’s assistant as she’s always wanted. However, just as the goal seems in sight, Gavin and Winnie come home, ostensibly for Piper’s 30th birthday, and then never leave. Turns out, Piper’s brother and sister have recently managed to get into a couple buckets of trouble, and they need some time to reevaluate their options. They aren’t willing to share their problems with Piper, though they’ve been completely open with each other. And Winnie, who’s pregnant, has been very open with Piper’s neighbor Emmitt Reid and his visiting son, Camden, since the baby’s father is Cam’s younger brother, Rowan, who died a few months earlier in a car accident. Everyone has issues to navigate, made more complicated by Gavin and Winnie’s swearing Cam to secrecy just as he and Piper try—and fail—to ignore their attraction to each other. Shalvis keeps the physical and emotional tension high, though the siblings’ refusal to share with Piper becomes tedious and starts to feel childish.

Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296139-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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