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MASTER, MINION

A potent, well-crafted thriller that’s a page-turner of the highest order.

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This novel focuses on the weaponization of money—and how one murder can destabilize financial markets around the globe and potentially change the balance of power in the world.

When a deputy chief of the Russian Central Bank is murdered, Nick Burns, a researcher for a Boston-based hedge fund and a former Army translator, is tasked by the Boss to investigate. The Boss, the founder of the hedge fund and “worth more money than God,” is convinced that America’s financial system is about to implode. He wants Burns to confirm that there are connections between the murder and a veritable “Rubik’s Cube” of seemingly unrelated events, including Russian money laundering in South America through drug trafficking and a Russian state-owned bank involved in a massive bitcoin/dollar exchange with China’s Ministry of State Security. As Burns travels the globe attempting to understand the complicated political dynamics that could tie all these events together, he has to deal with his dying mother back in Boston as well as a newfound love interest in Li You, aka Lola, a Chinese-born researcher working in Hong Kong. Featuring an impressively large and diverse cast of characters (included in a four-page glossary), Podolsky’s well-written novel isn’t just the deep exploration of the complex connection between political influence and the manipulation of currency. Instead, the tale’s power lies in the way in which the author makes this a character-driven narrative (an element lacking in many thrillers). Burns is three-dimensional, authentic, and identifiable. He loves his mother, risks his life for Lola, and—as an aspiring painter—sees the world through a vivid dichotomy. Humans are potential murderers as well as a “reflection of God’s beauty.” That said, the story—perfectly positioned for a sequel—delivers everything thriller fans expect: pedal-to-the-metal pacing, a complicated mystery, nonstop action and intrigue, and more than a few bombshell plot twists.

A potent, well-crafted thriller that’s a page-turner of the highest order.

Pub Date: Dec. 13, 2022

ISBN: 978-0998667355

Page Count: 446

Publisher: Still Press LLC

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023

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THE HOUSE ACROSS THE LAKE

A weird, wild ride.

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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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HOME IS WHERE THE BODIES ARE

Answers are hard to come by in this twisting tale designed to trick and delight.

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Three siblings on very different paths learn that their family home may be haunted by secrets.

Eldest daughter Beth is alone with her fading mother as she takes her final breath and says something about Beth’s long-departed brother and sister, who may not have disappeared forever. Beth is still reeling from the loss of her mother when her estranged siblings show up. Michael, the youngest, hasn’t been home since their father’s disappearance seven years ago. In the meantime, he’s outgrown his siblings, trading his share of the family troubles for a high-paying job in San Jose. Nicole, the middle child, has been overpowered by addiction and prioritized tuning out reality over any sense of responsibility, much to Beth’s disgust. Though their mother’s death marks an ending for the family, it’s also a beginning, as the three siblings realize when they find a disturbing videotape among their parents’ belongings. The video, from 1999, sheds suspicion on their father’s disappearance, linking it to a long-unsolved neighborhood mystery. Was it just a series of unfortunate circumstances that broke the family apart, or does something more sinister underlie the sadness they’ve all found in life? In chapters that rotate among the family’s first-person narratives, the siblings take turns digging up stories and secrets in their search for solace.

Answers are hard to come by in this twisting tale designed to trick and delight.

Pub Date: April 30, 2024

ISBN: 9798212182843

Page Count: 270

Publisher: Blackstone

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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