Zigzagging plot rife with suspense and character detail.

AVENUE OF REGRETS

A NOVEL

A man becomes entangled in a conspiracy of murder and deceit with ties to a years-old murder charge for which he received an acquittal in Pineiro’s (co-author, with Joe Weber: Ashes of Victory, 2018, etc.) thriller.

David Wallace’s encounter with Kate Larson at a San Francisco bar ends with her cryptic note: “Things were not as they seemed 7 years ago.” Back then, in his hometown of Austin, cops arrested David for the murder of Heather Wilson, with whom he’d had an affair. Though evidence later exonerated him, he’s still wracked with guilt: his wife, Evelyn, presumably distraught over his arrest, died shortly thereafter in a car accident that killed her and their son. Soon after meeting Kate, David witnesses a thuggish man and an Asian woman accosting her. He intervenes but is knocked unconscious and wakes up near a body (not Kate’s) that, according to police, goes missing. Things only get stranger back in Texas, where David runs Hill Country Haven, a shelter for battered women. He’s fairly certain he spots Kate at the airport, and, sure enough, he gets a note telling him to go to Heather’s old place at a specified time. Before long, he and his HCH assistant, Margaret Black, catch the attention of Detective Beckett Mar, who had worked Heather’s case and still considers David guilty. New murders in Austin complicate matters along with an abduction, the FBI’s involvement, and a shocking number of secrets David uncovers revolving around the series of grim events that unfolded seven years earlier. Pineiro’s novel thrives on copious plot turns. But the author wisely doesn’t save every twist until the end; the identity of the thug in San Francisco is one that readers learn relatively early, and it’s a doozy. The narrative eventually reveals a massive conspiracy that involves David’s former place of employment and a long list of cast members. Pineiro maintains cohesion by fully developing characters and relationships. For example, FBI Agent Jessica Herrera eases into the story with her connection to David—she had introduced him to Evelyn and therefore has a reason, perhaps, to despise him. As a protagonist, David is an even mix of sympathy and character flaws. His guilty conscience, for one, is understandable. But he’s also a man with a somber past. His father had regularly abused David and his mother for years before beating his mother to death. Other characters likewise shine: Ryan Horowitz, David’s supportive friend and attorney; and Margaret, a strong woman who survived a gang rape. The prose, in the voice of narrator David, is simple but potent; a line from HCH’s ad campaign, “Be Not Afraid,” becomes a refrain for characters (not just David) to prevail over deterrents. The steady pace sags under a surfeit of exposition in the final act. But high-stakes perils unfold throughout, and surprises persist all the way to the epilogue.

Zigzagging plot rife with suspense and character detail.

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2018

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 273

Publisher: Auspicious Apparatus Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 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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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

IT ENDS WITH US

Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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