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AND ONLY TO DECEIVE

Pleasantly soporific.

A young widow immerses herself in antiquity and uncovers a scandal in Alexander’s Victorian-era suspense debut.

Emily married Philip, a wealthy viscount, mainly to escape her overbearing mother’s constant hectoring. Her new husband has two passions: acquiring ancient Greek vases and statuary, and big-game hunting. Shortly after their marriage, Philip leaves Emily in their London townhouse and embarks on an extended African safari. His fellow hunters, impoverished aristocrats Andrew and Arthur Palmer and best friend Colin Hargreaves, report that he died of a mysterious fever at camp. Widowed after only six months of marriage to a man she hardly knew, Emily is relieved and secretly exhilarated by her inherited fortune and the independence it offers. But she soon sees signs that Philip had had things to hide. A man with a scarred face stalks her while she is inspecting the antiquities her husband donated to the British Museum. Philip’s desk and her Paris hotel room are ransacked. Colin, to whom she is attracted, is frustratingly unforthcoming about Philip’s business dealings—and his own. Andrew, who at first charms Emily with his debonair cynicism about society, and his acceptance of her rebellions (drinking port instead of sherry, studying ancient Greek), turns hostile when she rejects his proposal. At the Louvre, she befriends Attewater, an expert forger who specializes in copying classical artifacts on commission. However, he will not identify his well-heeled patrons. Emily learns from this unsavory acquaintance that Philip’s British Museum gifts are actually copies and the originals are stockpiled at his country estate. Then word comes through that Philip may actually be alive. Emily, who has fallen in love with her husband after reading his journal (sections of it introduce each chapter), prepares to go on safari to search for him. Following a long buildup, the payoff is rather too predictable, and the opulence insulating Emily insures that she’s never truly in jeopardy.

Pleasantly soporific.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-075671-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2005

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THEN SHE WAS GONE

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

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. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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