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TWO DAYS GONE

Beneath the momentum of the investigation lies a pervasive sadness that will stick with you long after you’ve turned the...

A Pennsylvania police officer digs deep, then still deeper, into the mystery of an inexplicably slaughtered family.

Professor Thomas Huston seemed to have it all: a successful career as a novelist, a position as a popular teacher at Shenango College, a loving wife, and three children too young to have grown away from him yet. So why on earth would he have taken a razor to their throats before disappearing into the night? Why, even if he felt compelled to end their lives, would he have varied his technique for his baby son, stabbing him in the heart instead? And why, if he’s so determined to run away, does he keep hovering around the town, telephoning his friends only to read them poems by Edgar Allan Poe? Sgt. Ryan DeMarco counts himself as one of those friends, but he finds Huston’s behavior, whether or not he’s as guilty as he looks, as inexplicable as everyone else. Unlike everyone else, however, DeMarco can’t let go of these agonizing riddles. Still mourning the death of his own baby son in a car crash, he feels an uncanny kinship to Huston, an intimacy that deepens when he retraces the writer’s steps to Whispers, the strip club where Huston had cultivated owner Bonnie Harris and dancer Danni Reynolds as models for Annabel, the heroine of his latest novel. As DeMarco, who’s a lot better at butting heads with station commander Sgt. Kyle Bowen, the supervisor he used to supervise before his demotion, than at detective work, struggles to make sense of Huston’s behavior, Silvis (The Boy Who Shoots Crows, 2011, etc.) intercuts his inquiries with glimpses into Huston’s tantalizingly underspecified memories of the fatal night until the two men finally collide in the first of several memorable lurches into resolution.

Beneath the momentum of the investigation lies a pervasive sadness that will stick with you long after you’ve turned the last page.

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-3973-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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THE MOST FUN WE EVER HAD

Characters flip between bottomless self-regard and pitiless self-loathing while, as late as the second-to-last chapter, yet...

Four Chicago sisters anchor a sharp, sly family story of feminine guile and guilt.

Newcomer Lombardo brews all seven deadly sins into a fun and brimming tale of an unapologetically bougie couple and their unruly daughters. In the opening scene, Liza Sorenson, daughter No. 3, flirts with a groomsman at her sister’s wedding. “There’s four of you?” he asked. “What’s that like?” Her retort: “It’s a vast hormonal hellscape. A marathon of instability and hair products.” Thus begins a story bristling with a particular kind of female intel. When Wendy, the oldest, sets her sights on a mate, she “made sure she left her mark throughout his house—soy milk in the fridge, box of tampons under the sink, surreptitious spritzes of her Bulgari musk on the sheets.” Turbulent Wendy is the novel’s best character, exuding a delectable bratty-ness. The parents—Marilyn, all pluck and busy optimism, and David, a genial family doctor—strike their offspring as impossibly happy. Lombardo levels this vision by interspersing chapters of the Sorenson parents’ early lean times with chapters about their daughters’ wobbly forays into adulthood. The central story unfurls over a single event-choked year, begun by Wendy, who unlatches a closed adoption and springs on her family the boy her stuffy married sister, Violet, gave away 15 years earlier. (The sisters improbably kept David and Marilyn clueless with a phony study-abroad scheme.) Into this churn, Lombardo adds cancer, infidelity, a heart attack, another unplanned pregnancy, a stillbirth, and an office crush for David. Meanwhile, youngest daughter Grace perpetrates a whopper, and “every day the lie was growing like mold, furring her judgment.” The writing here is silky, if occasionally overwrought. Still, the deft touches—a neighborhood fundraiser for a Little Free Library, a Twilight character as erotic touchstone—delight. The class calibrations are divine even as the utter apolitical whiteness of the Sorenson world becomes hard to fathom.

Characters flip between bottomless self-regard and pitiless self-loathing while, as late as the second-to-last chapter, yet another pleasurable tendril of sisterly malice uncurls.

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54425-2

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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