An engaging, inventive story of moviemaking and the occult for film geeks and genre buffs.

Embattled players in Mexico City’s horror film industry get more than they bargained for.

Mexican Canadian author Moreno-Garcia cracks open the ragtag underworld of early 1990s Mexican B-movies, a perfect backdrop for the intertwined plights of two childhood friends obsessed with horror. Montserrat Curiel (“a tiny, ferocious elf”) works as a part-time audio engineer, patching together a life behind the scenes as she struggles to support her ailing sister. Tristán Abascal, an aging actor, can't catch a break following a car wreck that claimed the life of his then-girlfriend, the daughter of a powerful film industry executive. Fortune takes a wild turn for the pair when they discover a legendary filmmaker living in Tristán’s building. Abel Urueta, a director during the golden age of 1950s cinema, has become convinced an unfinished film is cursed. He enlists Montserrat and Tristán to help reverse the curse, and the plan yields decidedly supernatural, if terribly unintended, results. Moreno-Garcia’s quick pacing and thoroughly developed characters are aided by the author’s seamless blending of invented filmographies with references to actually existing niche titles (Jacques Tourneur’s Cat People, anyone?) and era-appropriate moviemaking techniques (“the Dunning method,” “foley art”). Details regarding the dark arts and occultism are equally immersive. Facts about the Rite of Saturn, a play organized by Aleister Crowley in 1910, bolster the fictional claim that Crowley filmed the performance using “silver nitrate stock because silver is a powerful conduit for spells.” Moreno-Garcia’s clever blurring of these lines makes for fantastic reading.

An engaging, inventive story of moviemaking and the occult for film geeks and genre buffs.

Pub Date: July 18, 2023

ISBN: 9780593355367

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Del Rey

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2023


Loyal King stans may disagree, but this is a snooze.

A much-beloved author gives a favorite recurring character her own novel.

Holly Gibney made her first appearance in print with a small role in Mr. Mercedes (2014). She played a larger role in The Outsider (2018). And she was the central character in If It Bleeds, a novella in the 2020 collection of the same name. King has said that the character “stole his heart.” Readers adore her, too. One way to look at this book is as several hundred pages of fan service. King offers a lot of callbacks to these earlier works that are undoubtedly a treat for his most loyal devotees. That these easter eggs are meaningless and even befuddling to new readers might make sense in terms of costs and benefits. King isn’t exactly an author desperate to grow his audience; pleasing the people who keep him at the top of the bestseller lists is probably a smart strategy, and this writer achieved the kind of status that whatever he writes is going to be published. Having said all that, it’s possible that even his hardcore fans might find this story a bit slow. There are also issues in terms of style. Much of the language King uses and the cultural references he drops feel a bit creaky. The word slacks occurs with distracting frequency. King uses the phrase keeping it on the down-low in a way that suggests he probably doesn’t understand how this phrase is currently used—and has been used for quite a while. But the biggest problem is that this narrative is framed as a mystery without delivering the pleasures of a mystery. The reader knows who the bad guys are from the start. This can be an effective storytelling device, but in this case, waiting for the private investigator heroine to get to where the reader is at the beginning of the story feels interminable.

Loyal King stans may disagree, but this is a snooze.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781668016138

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023


The most richly accomplished of the brothers’ pairings to date—and given Connelly’s high standards, that’s saying a lot.

Harry Bosch and the Lincoln Lawyer team up to exonerate a woman who’s already served five years for killing her ex-husband.

The evidence against Lucinda Sanz was so overwhelming that she followed the advice of Frank Silver, the B-grade attorney who’d elbowed his way onto her defense, and pleaded no contest to manslaughter to avoid a life sentence for shooting Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Roberto Sanz in the back as he stalked out of her yard after their latest argument. But now that her son, Eric, is 13, old enough to get recruited by local gangs, she wants to be out of stir and at his side. So she writes to Mickey Haller, who asks his half-brother for help. After all his years working for the LAPD, Bosch is adamant about not working for a criminal defendant, even though Haller’s already taken him on as an associate so that he can get access to private health insurance and a UCLA medical trial for an experimental cancer treatment. But the habeas corpus hearing Haller’s aiming for isn’t, strictly speaking, a criminal defense proceeding, and even a cursory examination of the forensic evidence raises Bosch’s hackles. Bolstered by Bosch’s discoveries and a state-of-the-art digital reconstruction of the shooting, Haller heads to court to face Assistant Attorney General Hayden Morris, who has a few tricks up his own sleeve. The endlessly resourceful courtroom back-and-forth is furious in its intensity, although Haller eventually upstages Bosch, Morris, and everyone else in sight. What really stands out here, however, is that Connelly never lets you forget, from his title onward, the life-or-death issues behind every move in the game.

The most richly accomplished of the brothers’ pairings to date—and given Connelly’s high standards, that’s saying a lot.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9780316563765

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023

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