Readers looking for someone, anyone, to root for won’t find it among these well-to-do suburbanites behaving badly.

READ REVIEW

A STRANGER IN THE HOUSE

After a terrible car accident, a woman is left without memory of the events, but a dead body at the scene speaks of something sinister.

When Karen Krupp crashes her car into a pole after fleeing an abandoned restaurant in a rough part of town in upstate New York, she’s left with a bad concussion and no memory of what happened before her accident. Her husband, Tom, doesn’t know what to think since she went out without her purse and ID and didn't leave him a note as she usually does, and those are only the first in a string of out-of-character actions for Karen. The shocks keep coming when a dead man is found in the derelict restaurant, shot to death, a pair of distinctive pink rubber gloves left at the scene. Tom is convinced Karen isn’t a murderer, but as evidence piles up, he starts to doubt that he ever really knew his wife at all. Karen won’t find comfort in her “friend” Brigid Cruikshank, who lives across the street. Poor Brigid hates her marriage to boring Bob, and all she can think about is the hanky-panky she and Tom were up to before he married Karen. Bob is inadequate, but Tom is her dream hubby, and as cracks form in Tom and Karen’s marriage, delusional Brigid only sees opportunity. Detectives Rasbach and Jennings smell something fishy and are convinced Karen is hiding something, and as they dig into her past, explosive secrets come to light. Tom is hapless and self-pitying, allowing himself to be manipulated at every turn, and Brigid, at times unintentionally funny, is the quintessential soap-opera villainess—she delights in spying on Tom and Karen through her window while knitting and nursing fantasies about Tom. Readers will guess the obligatory final twist quickly, and Lapena's (The Couple Next Door, 2016, etc.) attempts at creating any sort of suspense are crushed under the weight of predictability.

Readers looking for someone, anyone, to root for won’t find it among these well-to-do suburbanites behaving badly.

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2112-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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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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