A gripping horror tale in the pulpy paperback tradition.

THE LEFTOVERS CLUB

A group of adults who survived a murder spree decades ago confronts the possible reemergence of the killer in this horror novel.

In 1986, the small town of Deighton, Pennsylvania, was terrorized by a serial killer named Tom Wickerman, who murdered at least six children before crashing his car into a frozen lake during a winter storm. The survivors—the kids the Deighton Demon did not slay—formed the Leftovers Club as a means to work through their collective trauma. The club still meets 35 years later, and most of the members have long since built stable lives for themselves. Joe White grew up to be a successful novelist and has two kids with fellow Leftover Judy. But things are about to change. It begins when Joe notices an older man hanging around outside his house. When the man makes vague threats regarding the writer’s young son, Simon, Joe can’t help but wonder if it’s Wickerman. It’s impossible, of course—Wickerman would be over 100 years old even if he hadn’t died in the lake—but maybe he had a brother or some other relative? At the next Leftovers meeting, Joe learns that he isn’t the only one who thinks he’s seen the killer around town. Oddities continue to pile up, but when one of their own turns up murdered in her house, the Leftovers know that the Deighton Demon isn’t done with them. From the very beginning, Wennerstroem’s prose clicks like an ascending roller coaster, building tension with every scene: “Judy shook her head; she hadn’t seen her, nor did she want to, at least not yet. The room down the hall overflowed with feverish commotion, voices distorted by fear and horror, then the house fell quiet, dead quiet.” The book has strong notes of Stephen King—the premise is more than a bit reminiscent of It—but as the tale unfolds, Wennerstroem’s sensibility comes into its own. The characters mostly hew to established types—including the cops working on the investigation, a street-wise Baltimore transfer and a veteran of the 1986 case—but the author draws them well. For fans of terror and suspense, Wennerstroem’s unnerving story does the trick.

A gripping horror tale in the pulpy paperback tradition.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-648-97980-7

Page Count: 366

Publisher: FarSight Publications

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

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THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME

When a devoted husband and father disappears, his wife and daughter set out to find him.

Hannah Hall is deeply in love with her husband of one year, Owen Michaels. She’s also determined to win over his 16-year-old daughter, Bailey, who has made it very clear that she’s not thrilled with her new stepmother. Despite the drama, the family is mostly a happy one. They live in a lovely houseboat in Sausalito; Hannah is a woodturner whose handmade furniture brings in high-dollar clientele; and Owen works for The Shop, a successful tech firm. Their lives are shattered, however, when Hannah receives a note saying “Protect her” and can’t reach Owen by phone. Then there’s the bag full of cash Bailey finds in her school locker and the shocking news that The Shop’s CEO has been taken into custody. Hannah learns that the FBI has been investigating the firm for about a year regarding some hot new software they took to market before it was fully functional, falsifying their financial statements. Hannah refuses to believe her husband is involved in the fraud, and a U.S. marshal assigned to the case claims Owen isn’t a suspect. Hannah doesn’t know whom to trust, though, and she and Bailey resolve to root out the clues that might lead to Owen. They must also learn to trust one another. Hannah’s narrative alternates past and present, detailing her early days with Owen alongside her current hunt for him, and author Dave throws in a touch of danger and a few surprises. But what really drives the story is the evolving nature of Hannah and Bailey’s relationship, which is by turns poignant and frustrating but always realistic.

Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7134-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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