A gripping story of suspense, laced with heavy emotion and family drama.

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CROOK'S HILL

In Fritze’s (False Guilt, 2015, etc.) thriller, suspicious deaths, other illegal business, and family secrets cause havoc in the lives of two brothers.

Ontario lawyer Alan Boltby feels reflective following the death of his father, so he contacts his ex-girlfriend, New York City–based lawyer Akeena Mendes. She’s the chief compliance officer at Alan’s older brother James’ successful hedge fund, Spring Woods Asset Management. After she and Alan meet for dinner in New York, he decides to patch up his strained relationship with James. However, after he witnesses James and his ex-girlfriend’s opulent lifestyle, he resents that his older brother was left the family farm, Crook’s Hill. Akeena was recently approached by Harvey Jerome, who threatened to go public with proof that SWAM participated in insider trading—if they didn’t wire $3 million into his offshore account. She informed James’ partner, Leonard Kosky, who ignored her concern. Then Jerome was found dead. When Akeena is later killed in a hit-and-run, Alan agrees to take over her job at SWAM, where he finds a revealing memo. After he recalls seeing a mysterious woman loitering outside Akeena’s place, he wonders whether there’s a connection between the two recent deaths. Enlisting the help of SWAM’s tech expert Greg Wilkinson, he launches his own investigation. Simultaneously, the novel follows Sara Ramachandran, a young woman who’s evading her abusive photographer ex, Philip Braun. Sara and Alan’s narratives eventually intersect in a shocking way. Fritze’s well-paced book is full of creative, unexpected twists that will keep readers engaged. The settings of a small Canadian town and the New York streets are vividly depicted, often functioning as a secondary character to the scene, as in this description of Alan’s Canadian hometown: “Alan drove...over moraines and streams, past other farms with islands of forest, until King Street emerged and he parked in front of a stately Spring Woods home with a deep, manicured lawn”; later, there’s a mention of “the town’s only lit intersection.” The characters’ back stories are ample, and flashback-centered chapters provide plenty of context for the Boltby brothers’ strained relationship.

A gripping story of suspense, laced with heavy emotion and family drama.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2018

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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