While this mediocre thriller may provide a fix for some die-hard fans of domestic noir, most readers will be disappointed.

READ REVIEW

THE HOUSE SWAP

Marital infidelity, drug addiction, house swapping, stalking, and a surprise ending add up to a psychologically suspenseful story in British novelist Fleet's U.S. debut.

When Caroline and Francis set out from their home in Leeds, they're already struggling to repair their troubled 15-year marriage. Their destination is a house in Chiswick, a London suburb, where they're doing a one-week house swap. As they settle into the sparsely furnished loaner house, Caroline finds pink roses and other things that remind her of a passionate extramarital affair she had two years earlier with Carl, a co-worker eight years her junior. Caroline soon suspects that her house-swap partner, S. Kennedy, is actually Carl and that her peculiar and intrusive Chiswick neighbor Amber may be a co-conspirator. Two timelines, stretching from 2012 to 2015, intersect to reveal why Carl ended the affair with Caroline, who S. Kennedy really is, and why S. Kennedy has gone to such extreme lengths to torment Caroline with reminders of Carl. The premise stretches believability, and why Caroline doesn't flee the Chiswick house is never adequately explained. Nor is it clear why she remains married to a man she dislikes or why he sticks it out with her when he knows she's guilty of more than infidelity. The unmasking of S. Kennedy spins the plot off on a tangent, multiple coincidences and contrivances undercut the story's credibility, and the denouement is unsatisfying as Caroline gets handed easy ways out of her problems. The story has some creepy and subtle moments, but their effect is diluted by an uneven pace, one-dimensional characters (all of whom are unhappy), and a gratuitous threat to Caroline and Francis' 4-year-old son.

While this mediocre thriller may provide a fix for some die-hard fans of domestic noir, most readers will be disappointed.

Pub Date: May 22, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-55883-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

THE SILENT PATIENT

A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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