There are so many layers beneath layers of deception, in fact, that even the most enthralled readers—and there will be...

BEETHOVEN'S TENTH

Think it would be fun to discover a lost symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven? Think again.

Inside the cedar box New Jersey hardware salesman Jake Hassler brings to auction house Cubbage & Wakeham is a pair of ledgers overflowing with handwritten musical passages, some scratched out, some incomplete, some written over. One of the volumes is labeled “Wilhelm Tell: Eine Dramatische Symphonie.” Under the increasingly pointed questioning of partner Harrison Ellsworth Cubbage III and Mitchell Emery, the ex-prosecutor heading the firm’s Department of Authentication and Appraisal, Jake tells how, after the death of his grandfather Otto Hassler in Zurich, he and Otto’s neighbor Ansel Erpf found the volumes in Otto’s attic and he spirited them out of the country before Ansel, Otto’s residuary legatee, could object. Everyone involved is afraid to believe that the find amounts to a version, however sketchy and incomplete, of Beethoven’s 10th Symphony, but that’s exactly what everyone wants it to be. Before Cubbage & Wakeham can move to offer the maybe-priceless item at auction, they have to explain its radical departures from the master’s other symphonies; they have to establish Jake Hassler’s clear title to it as part of the personal papers his grandfather left him; they have to determine what revisions might be required to make it performable; and they have to fight off the amusingly and increasingly determined attempts of Swiss and German attachés, an unnamed Asian millionaire, and several lesser private citizens to claim title or, failing that, to inveigh against its legitimacy. Novelist/historian Kluger (Indelible Ink: The Trials of John Peter Zenger and the Birth of America’s Free Press, 2016, etc.) knows both his Beethoven and his legal quiddities inside out, and over the course of an investigation headed mostly by Mitch Emery, he succeeds in casting serious doubt on the bona fides of American academics, German scholars, Swiss bankers, and virtually everyone else involved in this seven-course banquet of musical legend and coldhearted fraud.

There are so many layers beneath layers of deception, in fact, that even the most enthralled readers—and there will be many—are more likely to greet the climactic twist with exhausted relief than satisfaction.

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-945572-98-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Rare Bird Books

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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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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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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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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