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THE SWAP

Shamelessly soapy and dangerously addictive.

Who could have known that swapping spouses for one night could cause so much trouble?

High school senior Swallow “Low” Morrison has always been too tall, too intense, too strange. It doesn’t help that her parents are polyamorous, which, despite their Pacific Northwest island’s reputation as a haven for recreational spouse swapping, is still considered beyond the pale. After Low gets a glimpse of the ethereally beautiful Freya Light, she doesn’t hesitate to sign up for Freya’s pottery classes at her home studio. Before long, Freya is crossing boundaries with Low and shares a few of her darkest secrets. Freya and her husband, Max, a former professional hockey player, moved to the isolated Hawking to get away from a scandal that ruined Max’s career and tanked Freya’s status as a social media influencer. Low’s fascination with Freya quickly blooms into obsession, but Freya’s close friendship with Jamie Vincent, a local shop owner, threatens Low’s claim her. One night, Jamie and her husband, Brian, join Freya and Max for a night of magic mushrooms and steamy partner swapping. Jamie and Brian, whose relationship is already strained by their inability to conceive a child, are consumed by guilt, but Jamie isn’t about to let that night ruin her friendship with Freya. Unfortunately, Low witnessed all that night’s action from right outside Freya’s glass encased home, and she won’t hesitate to use it to her advantage. Of course, the fallout from that night, and Low’s simmering emotions, inevitably crescendos to a shocking point of no return. The narrative shuffles among all the major players except Freya, which adds to her aura of aloof perfection. As events spiral out of control, Harding’s deft handling of her characters makes it easy to believe that Jamie and Low could fall under the spell of someone like Freya, whose cool beauty hides dark multitudes, and nearly everyone in this passion play becomes delightfully unhinged in the end.

Shamelessly soapy and dangerously addictive.

Pub Date: June 23, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-4176-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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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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IDENTITY

Roberts revisits a favorite theme: The power of community can defeat a great evil.

After escaping from a serial killer, a woman tries to reclaim her life.

After a childhood as an Army brat, Morgan Albright is determined to put down roots. She bought a small house in the perfect neighborhood outside of Baltimore, living with a friend and working two jobs to make ends meet. Morgan’s life is happy and fulfilling, and she is making progress on her financial and career goals. Her perfect world is shattered when someone breaks into her home and murders her roommate. At first, the police assume it was a random act of violence, but after discovering the killer stole Morgan’s identity and her entire savings, they realize the crime fits the profile of a serial killer named Gavin Rozwell. The police inform Morgan that her roommate was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time; she was the real intended target. Morgan’s grief, coupled with the financial devastation from the identity theft, leaves her no choice but to return home to Vermont to live with her mother and grandmother. Morgan reconnects with her family and rebuilds her life, including landing the perfect job and falling in love. The police and FBI pursue Gavin, who continues to stalk and kill women, each time leaving a reminder at the crime scene that shows he’s fixated on Morgan as the one who got away. Roberts shows Gavin’s slow descent into obsession and madness as the inverse of Morgan’s healing journey back to herself and her community. The novel highlights Morgan’s preparations for the inevitable final countdown with Gavin, but the lack of immediacy and urgency of the threat makes for a subdued, restrained thriller.

Roberts revisits a favorite theme: The power of community can defeat a great evil.

Pub Date: May 23, 2023

ISBN: 9781250284112

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2023

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