Fans of literate mysteries will appreciate the complex but realistic story, the satisfying resolution and the descriptive...

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SECRETS TO THE GRAVE

The "See-No-Evil" serial killer is jailed awaiting trial, and the last thing Sheriff's Detective Tony Mendez needs is another murder victim, especially a beautiful young woman brutally stabbed and slashed.

Marissa Fordham, a rising young artist and the protégé of the wealthy Milo Bordain, is discovered murdered in her isolated cottage. Haley, her 4-year-old daughter, rests badly injured on her mother's bloody corpse. Mendez catches the case, ably assisted by Vince Leone, a retired FBI profiler who helped solve the "See-No-Evil" mystery. Leone has retired and married a local teacher, Anne Navarre, who was almost murdered by the jailed serial killer. Anne is now studying child psychology and working as a court-appointed special advocate in juvenile cases, and she persuades a reluctant Vince to let her care for Haley. That necessary and time-consuming task deflects her from counseling an apparently psychopathic middle-school student who has stabbed a classmate. Mendez and Leone have more than one suspect in Marissa's brutal murder, even though the victim isn't all—or is more than—she seems to be. Hoag (Deeper Than the Dead, 2009, etc.) again stages her mystery in Oak Knoll, a fictional town somewhere near the beautiful landscape surrounding Santa Barbara and Lompoc, Calif., and her gift for description makes the area come alive. The author also discovers a suitable set of suspects ranging from Bordain's Mercedes-dealer son, a mathematical genius and college professor with Asperger's Syndrome and mother issues, and a prosperous and adulterous attorney who may or may not have been linked to the "See-No-Evil" serial killer. The good guys are less dramatic, although Hoag's character sketches are memorable, right down to minor players like the county sheriff, Cal Dixon.

Fans of literate mysteries will appreciate the complex but realistic story, the satisfying resolution and the descriptive writing.

Pub Date: Dec. 28, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-525-95192-6

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Dec. 2, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2010

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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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