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A treat for readers interested in travel, romance, and murder; join the club.

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An exclusive international adventurers’ club becomes connected to the ultimate misadventure: murder.

In this second installment of Lamberson’s adventure series, American Stuart Mancini inherits from his grandfather a prestigious London flat and membership in the Kilimanjaro Club, a group that “valued fine food and drink as much as the camaraderie that came from death-defying exploration and discovery.” When Stuart goes to London in 2000 to survey his new property with his Italian girlfriend, Prima Valdocci, club member Bailey Honeybourne begs him to help locate Parnell Sumner. Parnell, a fellow club member, was apparently kidnapped in China while on a tiger-hunting expedition. Both “old goats,” Bailey and Parnell were dear friends of Stuart’s grandfather, so the protagonist feels obligated to help. He accompanies Bailey to the rugged mountains of China. There, the pair’s plans are initially waylaid when guides are found murdered. Traveling in the same area is ruthless Colorado businessman Hilliard Yates, who’s hoping to close a deal to market a male sex-enhancement drug made from tiger genitals. On Yates’ tail is Sprocket, an experienced killer with a two-inch mohawk, yellow contact lenses, and body-modification titanium bolts screwed into his skull. Sprocket botched a hit in Houston that Yates hired him to do, so now the killer wants to murder the businessman before he can retaliate for the failure. This well-written book provides plenty of unusual characters (yes, Sprocket is the standout) and multiple storylines, each offering escalating excitement. Mixed in with adventure and murder is the love affair of 40-somethings Prima and Stuart. Descriptions of China, Italy, England, Texas, and Colorado are travel guide–perfect. References to sounds are strong, such as “the hee-haw of Carabinieri sirens” and “the blur of rustling leaves and branches, stones and matter crunching beneath their boots.” Conversations and friendships are believable, but that’s not to suggest that no implausible things transpire. Though the novel can work as a stand-alone, it would be best to read the series in order as some references from the first book are not fully explained initially.

A treat for readers interested in travel, romance, and murder; join the club.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 979-8-9852013-0-7

Page Count: 474

Publisher: Hydra Heads Press

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2022

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A grim theme with a compelling and complex plot.

A one-eyed boy becomes a monster’s prey in this chilling tale of missing children.

Thirteen-year-old Missouri boy Joseph “Patch” Macauley was born with one eye, so he wears an eye patch and imagines himself a pirate. In 1975, he sees a masked man assaulting a girl in the woods. He attacks the man and saves her, but the predator kidnaps him instead. Patch eventually wakes in total darkness in a cellar where a different girl secretly visits him, heard but always unseen. He learns that her name is Grace and that there have been other girls down there before. Grace paints vivid word pictures of the places she’s seen and of stories by authors like Steinbeck. “Pray and stay alive,” she whispers to Patch. Eventually he escapes, but she is nowhere to be found. Searching for Grace is the underlying thread in a complicated quest that takes unexpected turns over the years and might well bring heartbreak. Meanwhile, the bodies of three girls turn up locally, and their parents grieve. Is the town doctor responsible for their deaths? A local school photographer? Both? Patch paints an image of Grace based only on what he’d heard from her in the cellar; then come more paintings and displays in an art gallery—an implausible achievement for an untrained artist. Meanwhile, Grace may be anywhere, and he must find her whether alive or dead. By now an adult, he “pinball[s]” from state to state, meeting with “a dozen families looking for a dozen lost girls.” To sustain himself he robs banks with an unloaded flintlock, and he shares his loot with organizations that are looking for missing children. He has “reasoned the truest proof of life [is] pain,” and he vows that he will die before he quits his search. This is much more than a whodunit, though it fills that bill well. It is also a richly layered tale of love, loss, and hope.

A grim theme with a compelling and complex plot.

Pub Date: June 25, 2024

ISBN: 9780593798874

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2024

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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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