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THE VILLA

Hawkins manages to achieve the seemingly impossible: A Frankenstein-inspired novel that feels both fresh and unique.

Past and present collide when two old friends spend a summer writing at an infamous villa in Italy.

After a tough year, Emily Sheridan needs a change. Enter Chess Chandler, her best friend since childhood, the golden girl who has become effortlessly famous for her self-help books and her glamorous Instagram posts and who has rented an Italian villa for the summer—a villa famous not only as a luxury retreat, but as the scene of a 1970s murder. Hawkins then turns the narrative over to the people who inhabited the villa that tragic summer—particularly a young woman writer who finds the inspiration to write a seminal work of horror; her hapless, brilliant husband; and the cruel, famous young aristocrat who drew them all there. It takes barely a page for the allusions to become apparent: This is a reimagining of the famous summer of 1814, when Mary Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Lord Byron held a ghost story contest from which Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was born. The novel continues to cut from the summer of 1974 to the present, as Emily begins to recapture her own power and imagination as a writer—even as she discovers that Chess may not be the friend she appears to be. Though the introduction of the major players of 1974 (Mari Godwick, Pierce Sheldon, Noel Gordon, etc.) feels rather heavy-handed, the characters quickly take on a fascinating life and energy that elevates them from being mere copies of the historic Romantics. And while the operatically tragic characters of the 1970s are ultimately more intriguing than Chess and Emily and their (mostly) petty dramas, Hawkins casts a sharp eye throughout to the way we construct stories about female artists—and the moral ambiguity inherent in creation and fame. The effect lingers like a shadow, or a creature, that endures past the final words.

Hawkins manages to achieve the seemingly impossible: A Frankenstein-inspired novel that feels both fresh and unique.

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-2502-8001-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2022

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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE DEVLINS

As an adjunct member says, “You’re not a family, you’re a force.” Exactly, though not in the way you’d expect.

The ne’er-do-well son of a successful Irish American family gets dragged into criminal complications that suggest the rest of the Devlins aren’t exactly the upstanding citizens they appear.

The first 35 years in the life of Thomas “TJ” Devlin have been one disappointment after another to his parents, lawyers who founded a prosperous insurance and reinsurance firm, and his more successful siblings, John and Gabby. A longtime alcoholic who’s been unemployable ever since he did time for an incident involving his ex-girlfriend Carrie’s then 2-year-old daughter, TJ is nominally an investigator for Devlin & Devlin, but everyone knows the post is a sinecure. Things change dramatically when golden-boy John tells TJ that he just killed Neil Lemaire, an accountant for D&D client Runstan Electronics. Their speedy return to the murder scene reveals no corpse, so the brothers breathe easier—until Lemaire turns up shot to death in his car. John’s way of avoiding anything that might jeopardize his status as heir apparent to D&D is to throw TJ under the bus, blaming him for everything John himself has done and adding that you can’t trust anything his brother has said since he’s fallen off the wagon. TJ, who’s maintained his sobriety a day at a time for nearly two years, feels outraged, but neither the police investigating the murder nor his nearest and dearest care about his feelings. Forget the forgettable mystery, whose solution will leave you shrugging instead of gasping, and focus on the circular firing squad of the Devlins, and you’ll have a much better time than TJ.

As an adjunct member says, “You’re not a family, you’re a force.” Exactly, though not in the way you’d expect.

Pub Date: March 26, 2024

ISBN: 9780525539704

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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THREE-INCH TEETH

A tale that’s hard to believe but easy to swallow in a single gulp.

A bear is hunting prey in Wyoming’s Bighorns. And not just any bear.

It’s bad enough that Clay Hutmacher, who manages the Double Diamond Ranch, has lost his son, Clay Jr., to a vicious attack by a grizzly bear. What’s much worse is that Clay Jr.—who’d been about to pop the question to game warden Joe Pickett’s daughter, Sheridan—is only the first of the victims over an exceptionally broad geographical area. Marshal Marvin Bertignolli is clawed and bitten to death over in Hanna. Sgt. Ryan Winner is found bleeding out north of Rawlins. Former Twelve Sleep County prosecutor Dulcie Schalk, one of two survivors of an ambush, doesn’t survive her final encounter. The four experts chosen to kill the grizzly rope Joe into their expedition, but since their quarry keeps turning up far from the last sighting, the most meaningful confrontation the Predator Attack Team has is with a pair of Mama Bears, animal rights activists who demand due process for Tisiphone, as they’ve dubbed the presumed killer. Box, who’s far too canny to leave Tisiphone alone on center stage, follows Joe’s old antagonist Dallas Cates as the ex–rodeo star is released from prison and embarks on his revenge tour, which takes him to Lee Ogburn-Russell, an inventor whose life Dallas saved, and Axel Soledad, a correspondent who shares so many enemies with Dallas that he suggests they go after them together. Franchise fans will appreciate new details about Joe’s complicated family, the obligatory high-country landscapes, and yet another corrupt law enforcer.

A tale that’s hard to believe but easy to swallow in a single gulp.

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2024

ISBN: 9780593331347

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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