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ONE PERFECT COUPLE

The most cinematic Ruth Ware novel so far.

A reality TV paradise becomes a nightmare for the show’s unlucky contestants.

Lyla Santiago and Nico Reese have been dating for more than two years, and she’s beginning to feel like their relationship may be hitting a wall; she loves him, but his main focus at 28 is on his acting career, while, at 32, scientist Lyla is starting to dream about settling down. When Nico pleads with her to join him on a new reality TV show, One Perfect Couple, Lyla views it as an opportunity to see whether their relationship can go the distance—in reality as well as on TV. They arrive on a remote Indonesian island to find blue waters, white sands, romantic huts, and eight other contestants, all beautiful, glamorous, and clearly committed to bolstering their visibility by competing on the show. The director seems a bit shady; he insists (as their contract demands) that they turn in all electronics, plies them with booze, and then leaves with the crew—and the first ousted contestant. That night, a huge storm sweeps across the island. The next morning reveals a fatality among the wreckage: a hut and its inhabitant have been crushed by a tree, and the outbuildings have been destroyed. The remaining contestants are cut off from all communication, with the exception of one radio, and there is a very limited supply of food and water. So Love Island becomes Survivor, and one person in particular is set on being the last person standing. Ware offers another take on the locked-room mystery, but this time, her focus is less on creating a creepy atmosphere of dread, as she did in earlier novels, than on showing the absolute brutality of which some humans are capable. But she still has a good time herself: There’s a funny self-referential line to an earlier novel, plus some female characters MacGyver-ing a battery. The prolific Ware continues to stretch herself, taking on something new in each novel and writing strong—and increasingly kick-ass—female characters.

The most cinematic Ruth Ware novel so far.

Pub Date: May 21, 2024

ISBN: 9781668025598

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Scout Press/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

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TOM CLANCY ACT OF DEFIANCE

Well-paced excitement as the Ryans come through again.

Echoes of Tom Clancy’s The Hunt for Red October reverberate four decades after the late author’s famous debut.

In 1984, Dimitri Gorov plans to deliver details of the advanced Soviet submarine Red October to the Americans, but Marko Ramius has already defected and delivered the boat itself. Gorov dies and now, decades later, his son Konstantin captains the Belgorod, Russia’s most advanced sub. Said sub goes rogue along with its nuclear-tipped torpedoes that can penetrate American defenses and blow up some of our coastal cities, or “wipe the American Atlantic fleet off the map.” Driven by multiple grievances, Konstantin wants to do just that, but a painful illness may bring him down. Meanwhile, young Navy lieutenant Kathleen (Katie, please) Ryan plays one of several key roles in trying to stop World War III. She’s smart and appealing and tries hard to downplay the fact that she’s President Jack Ryan’s daughter—“Daddy’s little girl,” as a snarky officer says to her face. In one nail-biting scene a helicopter tries to transfer her from a ship to a submarine in the open ocean. As with every novel in the series, readers are treated to a ton of technical details and asides that slow the reading occasionally, but without which it would not be a Clancy yarn. And of course, there is the obligatory establishment of what fine all-around Americans the Ryans are. Plenty of well-crafted characters, Russian and American, make up the cast. War begins to brew as a Russian MiG is shot down and troubles threaten to escalate. At one point, Katie “felt like the entire world was barreling toward oblivion and she was the only one who could stop it.” But wait: Late in the game, Konstantin muses, “There is nothing the Americans can do to stop me.” Who is right? Hmm, that’s a tough one. In her proud father’s mind, Lieutenant Ryan becomes “Katie—my little girl turned naval officer overnight.”

Well-paced excitement as the Ryans come through again.

Pub Date: May 21, 2024

ISBN: 9780593422878

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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THINK TWICE

A great premise leads through all the twists you’d expect to a thoroughly muddy final movement.

Sports agent Myron Bolitar meets the Setup Serial Killer, who’s found a highly effective way to keep anyone from connecting the dots.

There’s no arguing with DNA evidence, the ultimate forensic clincher. So when basketball player Greg Downing’s DNA is found on the scene where retired model Cecelia Callister and her son, Clay, were killed, the FBI comes calling on Myron to ask where they can find Greg. Myron’s a reasonable person to ask because Greg was his schoolmate and former client, the man who wooed and won Myron’s girlfriend away from him and made her Emily Downing. Try as he might, though, Myron can’t help much beyond repeating the obvious: Greg died three years ago, and his body was cremated. Since the Feds aren’t about to give up their search, Myron and his partner, financial advisor Win Lockwood, decide they’d better see if they can get ahead of this story by confirming or contradicting the story of Greg’s death. Meantime, a series of interleaved episodes show the killer eliminating a series of primary targets and framing secondary targets so convincingly for the murders, with special thanks to planted DNA, that it never occurs to the police to connect crimes that were so readily solved on their own. Complications arise when Myron’s thrown together with Jeremy Downing, the son he fathered in a pre-wedding tryst with Emily and then passed off as Greg’s, and when the allies of mob boss Joseph “Joey the Toe” Turant, who was locked up four years ago after his DNA-fueled conviction for the murder of Jordan Kravat, decide to lean on Myron to get him to reveal where Greg is.

A great premise leads through all the twists you’d expect to a thoroughly muddy final movement.

Pub Date: May 14, 2024

ISBN: 9781538756317

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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