A fine thriller greatly enhanced by Wahl’s superb attention to detail.

READ REVIEW

THE CHARIK

SOMETHING DARK AND EVIL

Violent, unexplained phenomena put a family in harm’s way in Wahl’s (Ride the Giant Wolf, 2013) spectral thriller.

A bridge is mysteriously destroyed, a man goes missing, and power outages and inexplicable weather plague a small Ohio town. David Macklin, a Navy SEAL on leave, returns to his family’s local farm, but his father, a Vietnam veteran, doesn’t seem to know much about the strange goings-on in town. Caddo, a Native American farmhand who served with David’s father, seems to know more, but he’s dodging everyone’s questions. But as the happenings continue to stump local and state authorities, David has other pressing matters to deal with: His family’s farm, once a sprawling landmark of rural Ohio, is nearly bankrupt. David investigates with the help of Alexa Wilde, a local journalist, and begins to suspect that an old feud with a neighboring family, the Treshlers, may be behind the farm’s recent troubles. Meanwhile, David’s sister, Elly, undertakes an investigation of her own. While reading old texts at the local library, she comes across a manuscript by Henry J. Purdy, a man obsessed with ghosts and spirits; he believed that in a previous life he was present for a battle between Mohawk Indians and British soldiers known as “the War of Blood.” While everyone else is occupied, Caddo keeps disappearing into the woods to perform a secret ritual. Wahl expertly layers each narrative thread into his story, pushing the disturbing plot forward while developing a tale of two fighting families. It makes for a thriller that’s difficult to put down, as nearly every page reveals something new. As the characters find themselves pulled deeper into the worsening situation, words and phrases such as “Revenant,” “Halting Place” and “Charik waik-ta” keep coming up; the author offers only tantalizing glimpses of the truth until the final, climactic face-off.

A fine thriller greatly enhanced by Wahl’s superb attention to detail.

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-1494721442

Page Count: 362

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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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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