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ZERO DAYS

Lots of adrenaline-driven action, a departure from Ware’s usual wire-taut mysteries.

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When a security expert is murdered, his wife will stop at nothing to find the killer—even as she becomes suspect No. 1.

Jacintha “Jack” Cross is a “penetration tester”: She’s the boots-on-the-ground person for testing out security systems, while her husband, Gabe, does the same for cybersecurity. Leaving a job one night, Jack is picked up by the police—an occupational hazard—and when she returns home, she finds Gabe’s body, throat slit. In shock, Jack reports the murder, talks to the police again, and goes to stay with her older sister, Helena Wick, for a day. When she’s asked to return to the station for a few more questions, Jack quickly realizes that she’s under suspicion—and so she goes on the run. With the help of her sister and Cole Garrick, Gabe’s oldest friend, she’s able to elude capture and begin her own investigation, determined to find her husband’s killer. Apparently, Gabe had found a “zero-day exploit,” a backdoor vulnerability, in a popular app, one that could be worth a lot of money to governments and bad actors. Ware has often highlighted technology as a malignant, uncontrollable force in her novels, and it’s frequently at odds with her luxurious, somewhat timeless settings. But in this novel, tech is front and center. Despite the contemporary trappings, though, the story is still a familiar one: It's The Fugitive if the main characters were women. There's plenty of excitement—chases, break-ins, shady bitcoin deals, an impending medical emergency—but the pool of characters is too small to leave much suspense about the mystery of Gabe’s death. Jack is a strong and fearless heroine, and Ware is always a master of setting and atmosphere, but the great reveal makes one wonder: Was it all worth it? Or more accurately, couldn’t Jack have figured this out much faster? Did it all have to come down to the poetic moment when she has nothing left?

Lots of adrenaline-driven action, a departure from Ware’s usual wire-taut mysteries.

Pub Date: June 20, 2023

ISBN: 9781982155292

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scout Press/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2023

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MIND GAMES

A touching story of love and grief ends in an epic battle of good versus evil.

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Roberts’ latest may move you to tears, or joy, or dread, or all three.

Every summer, John and Cora Fox visit Cora’s mother, Lucy Lannigan, in Redbud Hollow, Kentucky, leaving their children, 12-year-old Thea and 10-year-old Rem, for a two-week taste of heaven. The children love Grammie Lucy far more than John’s snooty family, which looks down on Cora. Lucy, a healer with deep Appalachian roots, loves animals, cooks the best meals, plays musical instruments, and makes soap and candles for her thriving business. Thea—who’s inherited the psychic abilities passed down through the women of Lucy’s family—has vivid magical dreams, one of which becomes a living nightmare when a psychopath robs and murders John and Cora as Thea watches helplessly. Thea’s description of the killer and her ability to see him in real time help the skeptical police catch Ray Riggs, who goes to prison for life. Although Thea and Rem go on to have a wonderful childhood with Grammie, Thea constantly wages a mental battle with Riggs, who tries to use his own psychic abilities to get into her mind. Over the years, Thea uses her imagination to become a game designer while the more business-minded Rem helps manage her career. Thea eventually builds a house near Lucy, where a newly arrived neighbor is her teen crush, singer-songwriter Tyler Brennan. Tyler has his own issues and is protective of his young son but slowly builds a loving relationship with Thea, whose silence about her abilities leads to a devastating misunderstanding. At first Thea tries to keep Riggs locked out of her mind. As her powers grow, she torments him. Finally, she realizes that she must win this battle and destroy him if she’s ever to have peace.

A touching story of love and grief ends in an epic battle of good versus evil.

Pub Date: May 21, 2024

ISBN: 9781250289698

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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THE SILENT PATIENT

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

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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. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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