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THE OUT-OF-TOWN LAWYER

A highly original courtroom drama ripped from the headlines and then some.

An attorney returns to his hometown of Cole’s Crossing, Alabama, on behalf of a client who looks as if she hasn’t got a prayer of acquittal.

Destiny Grace Harper was pregnant with daughters afflicted by rare twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome that condemned them to likely death unless their mother underwent fetoscopic laser surgery, a procedure she rejected at the behest of Rev. Jeremiah Tipple, the pastor of the Church of Our Lord’s Rapture. Now that she’s fled her home and delivered two babies, one stillborn, the other dead within minutes, the state of Alabama has put her on trial for capital murder. Her mother, LeAnn Harper, whom the good pastor excommunicated after her cancer surgery, offers little help beyond urging her to replace public defender Aruna Patel Higgins with someone more effective; Rev. Tipple refuses to testify about Destiny’s motives; and Judge Merle Barraclough purges the jury pool of anyone who supports abortion. So Elvis Henderson, the former local boy turned attorney whose boss in Laredo takes on the case pro bono, has his work cut out for him. “My client is being tried for felony pregnancy,” he maintains, and it would be hard to disagree with him in a more sympathetic venue. As the story unfolds, Elvis’ attempt to prove that his client acted out of religious convictions that no one close to her is willing to document gets increasingly tangled with his own checkered past in Cole’s Crossing, a past that’s won him more than his share of enemies. Even though the case revolves around whydunit, not whodunit, Rotstein does an admirable job keeping up the tension en route to a series of surprising surprises.

A highly original courtroom drama ripped from the headlines and then some.

Pub Date: June 25, 2024

ISBN: 9798200954506

Page Count: 350

Publisher: Blackstone

Review Posted Online: April 20, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2024

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THE HOUSE ACROSS THE LAKE

A weird, wild ride.

Celebrity scandal and a haunted lake drive the narrative in this bestselling author’s latest serving of subtly ironic suspense.

Sager’s debut, Final Girls (2017), was fun and beautifully crafted. His most recent novels—Home Before Dark (2020) and Survive the Night (2021) —have been fun and a bit rickety. His new novel fits that mold. Narrator Casey Fletcher grew up watching her mother dazzle audiences, and then she became an actor herself. While she never achieves the “America’s sweetheart” status her mother enjoyed, Casey makes a career out of bit parts in movies and on TV and meatier parts onstage. Then the death of her husband sends her into an alcoholic spiral that ends with her getting fired from a Broadway play. When paparazzi document her substance abuse, her mother exiles her to the family retreat in Vermont. Casey has a dry, droll perspective that persists until circumstances overwhelm her, and if you’re getting a Carrie Fisher vibe from Casey Fletcher, that is almost certainly not an accident. Once in Vermont, she passes the time drinking bourbon and watching the former supermodel and the tech mogul who live across the lake through a pair of binoculars. Casey befriends Katherine Royce after rescuing her when she almost drowns and soon concludes that all is not well in Katherine and Tom’s marriage. Then Katherine disappears….It would be unfair to say too much about what happens next, but creepy coincidences start piling up, and eventually, Casey has to face the possibility that maybe some of the eerie legends about Lake Greene might have some truth to them. Sager certainly delivers a lot of twists, and he ventures into what is, for him, new territory. Are there some things that don’t quite add up at the end? Maybe, but asking that question does nothing but spoil a highly entertaining read.

A weird, wild ride.

Pub Date: June 21, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-18319-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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HOME IS WHERE THE BODIES ARE

Answers are hard to come by in this twisting tale designed to trick and delight.

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Three siblings on very different paths learn that their family home may be haunted by secrets.

Eldest daughter Beth is alone with her fading mother as she takes her final breath and says something about Beth’s long-departed brother and sister, who may not have disappeared forever. Beth is still reeling from the loss of her mother when her estranged siblings show up. Michael, the youngest, hasn’t been home since their father’s disappearance seven years ago. In the meantime, he’s outgrown his siblings, trading his share of the family troubles for a high-paying job in San Jose. Nicole, the middle child, has been overpowered by addiction and prioritized tuning out reality over any sense of responsibility, much to Beth’s disgust. Though their mother’s death marks an ending for the family, it’s also a beginning, as the three siblings realize when they find a disturbing videotape among their parents’ belongings. The video, from 1999, sheds suspicion on their father’s disappearance, linking it to a long-unsolved neighborhood mystery. Was it just a series of unfortunate circumstances that broke the family apart, or does something more sinister underlie the sadness they’ve all found in life? In chapters that rotate among the family’s first-person narratives, the siblings take turns digging up stories and secrets in their search for solace.

Answers are hard to come by in this twisting tale designed to trick and delight.

Pub Date: April 30, 2024

ISBN: 9798212182843

Page Count: 270

Publisher: Blackstone

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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