An original voice launches this brooding, high-stakes series.

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THE CAUSE

A new CIA field operative joins a Black Ops training program whose leaders have targeted the government of a near-future America in Vincent’s debut dystopian thriller.

Isse Corvus, like any agent fresh off The Farm in 2022, has the option of training at The Abattoir. It’s a hard-core camp strictly off the grid, but grads reputedly earn the agency’s most dangerous and “frontline” jobs. Corvus opts in; he and the other newbs find themselves in an unknown jungle and quickly realize that it’s a fight for survival. Corvus has his own mission; CIA Station Chief Pelletier has sent him there to assassinate someone. But The Abattoir is more than a mere training camp. The program’s been secretly monitoring government officials like the National Security Agency director, Titus Montgomery, with a plan to take back the country from its tyrannical leaders. The novel opens in a haunting dystopia, in which the U.S. government tries to control its people, resulting in an America besieged by rioting citizens. It’s a perfect place to begin with Corvus, whose predicament becomes increasingly dire: he’s imprisoned and isolated in The Hole, a terrifying ordeal that pales in comparison to later events. Corvus is a protagonist with an ample back story; he was a hacktivist and also created a powerful artificial intelligence named Rose. There’s beaucoup action throughout, especially in the novel’s latter half, when The Minutemen, a liberation group, makes an aggressive move to stop quantum computers from obliterating the last of individuals’ privacy. But even the time in the jungle is crammed with intense, sometimes-brutal sequences. One of Corvus’ extended brawls has its own chapter. There’s also near starvation among the trainees; strange, armed men attacking the camp; and a head or two “kebabed on a skewer.” The book was clearly designed to kick off a series: it opens in 2026 before flashing back four years and gets nowhere close to catching up to its beginning.

An original voice launches this brooding, high-stakes series.

Pub Date: Nov. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-1782797630

Page Count: 330

Publisher: Roundfire Books

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2015

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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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