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LAPSE

A riveting thriller with a heroine willing to get her hands dirty to find the answers she seeks.

A white female Australian football coach trying to hide from her past gets swept up in the long-simmering race-based conflicts of the small town she moves to when she tries to help her star player, an Indigenous man.

Clementine Jones is just a part-time Australian football coach in the tiny town of Katinga in Victoria. A white, middle-class one-time corporate lawyer who's fled Sydney, she's trying to escape her past life and live in anonymity in her haven, a little cottage nestled in the hills. But one thing led to another, and now she coaches the Cats, the town’s football team, for a paltry $140 a week. She's an excellent coach, and the team has the chance to go to the finals for the first time in decades. Her star player is Clancy Kennedy, the only Indigenous man on the team, whose pregnant wife is a month from her due date. When he suddenly quits the team and is fired from his job for theft, something doesn’t seem quite right to Clem. But when she tries to get to the bottom of it, she finds that the seemingly bucolic town is one where race tensions run high. Very high. On one side is the Indigenous population, trying to get by and live within a system that devalues them and their history, and on the other is a group of militant and criminal skinhead whites who wield physical violence against people and property as if it were a right. This is a rip-roaring tale that addresses weighty issues head-on: Discrimination, race-baiting, harassment, physical violence, corporate corruption, and criminality all play major roles in the story. First-time author Thornton interweaves all this with on-field action, a combination that propels the story forward addictively and will leave readers eager to read the next installment of this new series.

A riveting thriller with a heroine willing to get her hands dirty to find the answers she seeks.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-92577-394-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Text

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK

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: tomorrow

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THE HOUSE ACROSS THE LAKE

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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