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A novel that puts a fresh twist on getting what you deserve.

A summer among the Massachusetts elite introduces a young law student to a life and temptations he hadn’t imagined.

It begins with an offer that Conor O’ Toole can’t refuse—free lodging in a cabin on Cutters Neck, a gated community of posh summer homes, in exchange for providing tennis lessons to the lawyer who has invited him. He can also solicit other residents to pay for lessons. A comedy of manners seems to unfold, as the rich rise above the pandemic, insulated by their wealth, while the servants remain masked and keep a proper distance. The novelist expertly inserts himself inside Conor’s psyche, and it seems like a pretty comfortable place, for protagonist and reader alike. A good-looking man with a tennis pro’s physique, Conor tries to stay focused on studying for the bar exam and scheduling enough lessons to provide medicine for his diabetic mother. He’s a dutiful son, and she lives in the apartment they share in Yonkers. Soon enough, the richest divorcee on “the neck” becomes his most lucrative customer, a sexually voracious and domineering woman who employs tennis lessons as blatant seduction and starts paying him twice his going rate to service her. The sex is explosive beyond anything he had experienced, although debasing (and thus all the steamier). He rationalizes that he is doing this to provide for his mother, but he gets a rush from the sex. (And the money.) Then a younger woman arrives, complicating the arrangement. They begin to see each other a lot. He finds himself juggling the sexual fireworks with the one and the slower-burning love he is kindling with the other. He can’t quit either, and he vows to keep his relationship with each a secret. But something has to give. Something does. Conor’s seeming innocence turns insidious, unnerving. And the summer idyll, the comedy of manners, turns gruesome, as lies and rationalization lead to way worse.

A novel that puts a fresh twist on getting what you deserve.

Pub Date: May 28, 2024

ISBN: 9780063353596

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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A grim theme with a compelling and complex plot.

A one-eyed boy becomes a monster’s prey in this chilling tale of missing children.

Thirteen-year-old Missouri boy Joseph “Patch” Macauley was born with one eye, so he wears an eye patch and imagines himself a pirate. In 1975, he sees a masked man assaulting a girl in the woods. He attacks the man and saves her, but the predator kidnaps him instead. Patch eventually wakes in total darkness in a cellar where a different girl secretly visits him, heard but always unseen. He learns that her name is Grace and that there have been other girls down there before. Grace paints vivid word pictures of the places she’s seen and of stories by authors like Steinbeck. “Pray and stay alive,” she whispers to Patch. Eventually he escapes, but she is nowhere to be found. Searching for Grace is the underlying thread in a complicated quest that takes unexpected turns over the years and might well bring heartbreak. Meanwhile, the bodies of three girls turn up locally, and their parents grieve. Is the town doctor responsible for their deaths? A local school photographer? Both? Patch paints an image of Grace based only on what he’d heard from her in the cellar; then come more paintings and displays in an art gallery—an implausible achievement for an untrained artist. Meanwhile, Grace may be anywhere, and he must find her whether alive or dead. By now an adult, he “pinball[s]” from state to state, meeting with “a dozen families looking for a dozen lost girls.” To sustain himself he robs banks with an unloaded flintlock, and he shares his loot with organizations that are looking for missing children. He has “reasoned the truest proof of life [is] pain,” and he vows that he will die before he quits his search. This is much more than a whodunit, though it fills that bill well. It is also a richly layered tale of love, loss, and hope.

A grim theme with a compelling and complex plot.

Pub Date: June 25, 2024

ISBN: 9780593798874

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: today

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"Don't go into the woods" takes on unsettling new meaning in Moore's blend of domestic drama and crime novel.

Many years after her older brother, Bear, went missing, Barbara Van Laar vanishes from the same sleepaway camp he did, leading to dark, bitter truths about her wealthy family.

One morning in 1975 at Camp Emerson—an Adirondacks summer camp owned by her family—it's discovered that 13-year-old Barbara isn't in her bed. A problem case whose unhappily married parents disdain her goth appearance and "stormy" temperament, Barbara is secretly known by one bunkmate to have slipped out every night after bedtime. But no one has a clue where's she permanently disappeared to, firing speculation that she was taken by a local serial killer known as Slitter. As Jacob Sluiter, he was convicted of 11 murders in the 1960s and recently broke out of prison. He's the one, people say, who should have been prosecuted for Bear's abduction, not a gardener who was framed. Leave it to the young and unproven assistant investigator, Judy Luptack, to press forward in uncovering the truth, unswayed by her bullying father and male colleagues who question whether women are "cut out for this work." An unsavory group portrait of the Van Laars emerges in which the children's father cruelly abuses their submissive mother, who is so traumatized by the loss of Bear—and the possible role she played in it—that she has no love left for her daughter. Picking up on the themes of families in search of themselves she explored in Long Bright River (2020), Moore draws sympathy to characters who have been subjected to spousal, parental, psychological, and physical abuse. As rich in background detail and secondary mysteries as it is, this ever-expansive, intricate, emotionally engaging novel never seems overplotted. Every piece falls skillfully into place and every character, major and minor, leaves an imprint.

"Don't go into the woods" takes on unsettling new meaning in Moore's blend of domestic drama and crime novel.

Pub Date: July 2, 2024

ISBN: 9780593418918

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2024

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