An enjoyable, low-key supernatural tale with invigorating, unpretentious vampires.

EVERYTHING HURTS

An English private eye, with help from his vampire friends, tries to stop a serial killer targeting college girls in Dalzell’s (The Last Dream Before You Die, 2012) latest, the second in a supernatural thriller series.

When a female student dies from a heroin overdose, Detective Constable Brian Nolan calls in West Yorkshire PI Jack Bone. Jack, a former cop, has the resources to find what Nolan believes is a serial killer, since four other girls of similar age and background have died the same way over the last seven years. Plus, Jack has a distinct advantage: He’s pals with a family of the Nosferatu—“immortals from which stem the vampire legends.” While dodging assassination attempts (retribution from his copper days), Jack learns of the Candyman, an urban legend about a man who, with the help of drugs, promises college-age girls the path to “ultimate knowledge.” After the PI seems to save the Candyman’s most recent victim just in time, he may have a witness to lead him to the killer—if Jack can keep her alive long enough. Dalzell’s multigenre novel skillfully fuses action and the supernatural, best exemplified by a set of twins, vampire Mina and human Lucy, who’s also Jack’s intern. Mina fights with an apparently boundless hypnotic ability, while Lucy—an almost-200-year-old immortal whose Nosferatu genes aren’t “switched on”—excels with basic fisticuffs: A thug who stupidly puts his hand on her winds up with a broken jaw and fewer teeth. Despite Jack’s profession, there’s very little in the way of a detective story, as Jack is too dependent on his vampire partners; even Stanislav, who works for Eugenie (Mina and Lucy’s great-grandmother), dispatches gangsters gunning for Jack and does some research for the Candyman case. Still, Jack’s determination is unparalleled, and his casual acceptance of the Nosferatus’ incredible powers makes the paranormal seem practical, maybe even possible. For example, in the book’s best scene, Mina walks Jack through his own honeymoon memory while, in reality, Jack undergoes a particularly painful experience: “I brought you into this simulacrum by hypnosis to let you escape from what we had to do to get you through the narrows,” she tells him. There’s an abundance of references to Dalzell’s previous book, and the author relays plenty for clarification, such as the origin of Jack’s relationship to the vamps, without excessively outlining the entire story.

An enjoyable, low-key supernatural tale with invigorating, unpretentious vampires.

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2014

ISBN: 978-1497424654

Page Count: 434

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

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. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how...

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THE A LIST

A convicted killer’s list of five people he wants dead runs the gamut from the wife he’s already had murdered to franchise heroine Ali Reynolds.

Back in the day, women came from all over to consult Santa Clarita fertility specialist Dr. Edward Gilchrist. Many of them left his care happily pregnant, never dreaming that the father of the babies they carried was none other than the physician himself, who donated his own sperm rather than that of the handsome, athletic, disease-free men pictured in his scrapbook. When Alexandra Munsey’s son, Evan, is laid low by the kidney disease he’s inherited from his biological father and she returns to Gilchrist in search of the donor’s medical records, the roof begins to fall in on him. By the time it’s done falling, he’s serving a life sentence in Folsom Prison for commissioning the death of his wife, Dawn, the former nurse and sometime egg donor who’d turned on him. With nothing left to lose, Gilchrist tattoos himself with the initials of five people he blames for his fall: Dawn; Leo Manuel Aurelio, the hit man he’d hired to dispose of her; Kaitlyn Todd, the nurse/receptionist who took Dawn’s place; Alex Munsey, whose search for records upset his apple cart; and Ali Reynolds, the TV reporter who’d helped put Alex in touch with the dozen other women who formed the Progeny Project because their children looked just like hers. No matter that Ali’s been out of both California and the news business for years; Gilchrist and his enablers know that revenge can’t possibly be served too cold. Wonder how far down that list they’ll get before Ali, aided once more by Frigg, the methodical but loose-cannon AI first introduced in Duel to the Death (2018), turns on them?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how little the boundary-challenged AI, who gets into the case more or less inadvertently, differs from your standard human sidekick with issues.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5101-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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