A remarkable family tale that fully embraces its weirdness and ambiguity.



After encountering others with similar secrets, two siblings make a drastic, grim decision in this novel.

Yoshi lives with his sister, Saachi, and their mother, Henrietta. It’s not an easy existence, as Henrietta often has paper bags of “roogs” (drugs) and stays inside her room, dazed, for prolonged intervals. She also has a local reputation as a murderer due to her lethally shooting an aggressive gardener and his dog. It was unquestionably self-defense, but that hasn’t prevented a stigma shadowing the mother and her children. When Yoshi finds cryptic notes hidden in a library book, the messages direct him to a small group of individuals. They claim that Yoshi is one of them, as everyone in this gathering they call The Colony has parents who use and/or deal drugs. Regular meetings with The Colony and further concealed notes only seem to elevate Yoshi’s distrust, including of the vagrant Sikes, whom the boy is intent on helping. But even more telling is his new friends’ insistence on taking care of his “problem.” It soon becomes apparent to Yoshi and Saachi that getting rid of Henrietta may be their only option. Avery’s offbeat story is intentionally vague. For example, there’s no specific time period or setting, and the siblings sometimes converse in their own dialect. Nevertheless, the brother-sister relationship grounds the narrative; they may argue but their mutual compassion is unmistakable, even if it stems from an emotionally absent mother. Likewise, there’s a general unease, as motivations, including The Colony’s and Sikes’, aren’t immediately clear. But while the siblings’ language generates memorable slang that readers will enjoy, some inconsistent spellings make it unnecessarily confusing. (“Cabbu,” which seems to mean cash, is later “caboo”; “ledling,” which essentially means sleeping, is also “ladling.”) The events all lead to a twist ending that the author subtly hints at throughout the darkly bizarre novel.

A remarkable family tale that fully embraces its weirdness and ambiguity.

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5439-9191-8

Page Count: 150

Publisher: BookBaby

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2020

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Now that Coben’s added politics to his heady brew, expect sex and religion to join the mix.

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Coben’s latest darkest-suburbs thriller sets a decidedly offbeat detective on the trail of a crime with overtones unmistakably redolent of once and future presidential elections.

Wilde is called Wilde because nobody’s known his real name from the moment a pair of hikers found him foraging for himself in Ramapo Mountain State Forest 24 years ago. Now over 40, he’s had experience as both a lost boy and a private investigator. That makes him an obvious person to help when his godson, Sweet Water High School student Matthew Crimstein, expresses concern to his grandmother, attorney Hester Crimstein, that his bullied classmate Naomi Pine has gone missing. Matthew doesn’t really want anyone to help. He doesn’t even want anyone to notice his agitation. But Hester, taking the time from her criminal defense of financial consultant Simon Greene (Run Away, 2019) to worm the details out of him, asks Wilde to lend a hand, and sure enough, Wilde, unearthing an unsavory backstory that links Naomi to bullying classmate Crash Maynard, whose TV producer father, Dash Maynard, is close friends with reality TV star–turned–presidential hopeful Rusty Eggers, finds Naomi hale and hearty. Everything’s hunky-dory for one week, and then she disappears again. And this time, so does Crash after a brief visit to Matthew in which he tearfully confesses his guilt about the bad stuff he did to Naomi. This second disappearance veers into more obviously criminal territory with the arrival of a ransom note that demands, not money, but the allegedly incriminating videotapes of Rusty Eggers that Dash and Delia Maynard have had squirreled away for 30 years. The tapes link Rusty to a forgotten and forgettable homicide and add a paranoid new ripped-from-the-headlines dimension to the author’s formidable range. Readers who can tune out all the subplots will find the kidnappers easy to spot, but Coben finds room for three climactic surprises, one of them a honey.

Now that Coben’s added politics to his heady brew, expect sex and religion to join the mix.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4814-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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


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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