A gritty, violent read with a tough, idiosyncratic, dryly witty heroine readers will root for even if they wouldn’t want to...

READ REVIEW

THE LOST ONES

A Vancouver woman with demons to spare is asked to find a teen runaway in Kamal’s searing debut.

When Nora Watts receives a 5 a.m. phone call from a man named Everett Walsh insisting that she might know something about a missing girl, his desperation is palpable. Nora, who "help[s] look for missing people for a living," reluctantly meets with Everett and his wife, Lynn, and finds out that their 15-year-old daughter, Bonnie, is missing, but because she’s run away before, the police won’t take it seriously. Nora is their last resort, they tell her, because she's Bonnie's biological mother—she'd given the girl up for adoption 15 years earlier. At first, Nora doesn’t want anything to do with the case, but something pulls at her, and as she digs deeper, it threatens to pull her all the way under. Nora narrates her own story, and she doesn’t care if you like her. In fact, she keeps everyone at arm’s length, taking comfort only in her beloved dog, Whisper, stealing from those who show her kindness, and refusing help from the private investigator and journalist who employ her. Estranged from her younger sister and a former child of the foster care system, she used to seek solace in the bottle, and it always threatens right at the edge of her vision. Nora’s Vancouver in winter is one of endless natural beauty, but dark currents run beneath it that highlight the harsh treatment of indigenous people, especially girls and women, and the ease with which they are swept away and forgotten. It’s a bracing reality that underscores Nora’s painful, violent past, and debut novelist Kamal uses her own background in community activism to great effect. As Nora searches for Bonnie, the trail of corruption leads her to a wealthy family with ties to mining, but what would they have to do with a missing girl? The truth is beyond terrifying, and if readers think they know where this is going, they’ll likely be surprised. The brutal finale tests Nora to her very limits. Though comparisons to Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander are inevitable, Nora blazes her own shining trail.

A gritty, violent read with a tough, idiosyncratic, dryly witty heroine readers will root for even if they wouldn’t want to invite her home.

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-256590-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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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