A quick and lively read that should appeal to fans of both murder mysteries and ghost stories.




An apparition haunts a hotel in a small town in western New York state in this novel.

On a stormy fall night just before Halloween, a ghost appears to a server at the local inn in Akron. The specter seems to be leaving bloody footprints, which suddenly disappear. Shortly thereafter, Wendy Kulbrick, another server, is found on the third floor of the hotel with her head bashed in. No one ever goes on that floor, and Steve, the owner, doesn’t know how she got there. It is up to Senior Investigator Sgt. Mike O’Brien to solve the case. His job gets complicated when he attends a séance led by local librarian Rae Dembrowsky and a ghost speaks through O’Brien, revealing his own history with a spirit. The investigator had been in an accident with a friend named Greta, who died; he had never confessed his romantic feelings to her. Soon, he learns the inn has a history not only involving hauntings, but also a missing artwork called Lady with a Rose, assumed to be a valuable painting. Wendy and bartender Joe Frankenhauser are suspected of trying to find the portrait, which the owners failed to do. Meanwhile, Steve and his manager, Sharon Cottrell, attempt to keep the inn open and discover the new publicity is actually attracting customers. O’Brien has to figure out if Wendy was murdered by supernatural forces or by someone who saw her as competition for Lady. Will the sergeant crack the case and find peace with Greta? Mixing a ghost story with a more realistic mystery is Karl’s (Strange and Disturbing, 2016, etc.) best idea here. It allows her to build up her small town and populate it with intriguing characters. It also gives her a lot of red herrings for the whodunit. The biggest fault of the book is that readers don’t get a lot of scenes starring the two phantoms the author introduces. They don’t appear much, so the audience doesn’t get to know them well in present-day Akron and glimpses only brief histories. Since this is the first installment of a series, readers may find out more about them later. Otherwise, this is an engaging and tidy little tale.

A quick and lively read that should appeal to fans of both murder mysteries and ghost stories.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-974024-22-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2017

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King fans won’t be disappointed, though most will likely prefer the scarier likes of The Shining and It.


The master of modern horror returns with a loose-knit parapsychological thriller that touches on territory previously explored in Firestarter and Carrie.

Tim Jamieson is a man emphatically not in a hurry. As King’s (The Outsider, 2018, etc.) latest opens, he’s bargaining with a flight attendant to sell his seat on an overbooked run from Tampa to New York. His pockets full, he sticks out his thumb and winds up in the backwater South Carolina town of DuPray (should we hear echoes of “pray”? Or “depraved”?). Turns out he’s a decorated cop, good at his job and at reading others (“You ought to go see Doc Roper,” he tells a local. “There are pills that will brighten your attitude”). Shift the scene to Minneapolis, where young Luke Ellis, precociously brilliant, has been kidnapped by a crack extraction team, his parents brutally murdered so that it looks as if he did it. Luke is spirited off to Maine—this is King, so it’s got to be Maine—and a secret shadow-government lab where similarly conscripted paranormally blessed kids, psychokinetic and telepathic, are made to endure the Skinnerian pain-and-reward methods of the evil Mrs. Sigsby. How to bring the stories of Tim and Luke together? King has never minded detours into the unlikely, but for this one, disbelief must be extra-willingly suspended. In the end, their forces joined, the two and their redneck allies battle the sophisticated secret agents of The Institute in a bloodbath of flying bullets and beams of mental energy (“You’re in the south now, Annie had told these gunned-up interlopers. She had an idea they were about to find out just how true that was"). It’s not King at his best, but he plays on current themes of conspiracy theory, child abuse, the occult, and Deep State malevolence while getting in digs at the current occupant of the White House, to say nothing of shadowy evil masterminds with lisps.

King fans won’t be disappointed, though most will likely prefer the scarier likes of The Shining and It.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9821-1056-7

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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This riveting Gothic thriller explores the limits of love, guilt, and punishment.


Running away from the memory of a New Year’s Eve party gone terribly wrong, food writer Ava Collette escapes Boston for a remote Maine village only to face a haunted house and a murder investigation.

Bestselling author of the Rizzoli & Isles series, Gerritsen (I Know a Secret, 2017, etc.) returns with a spellbinding thriller. The focus stays tightly on the experience of the potential victim, Ava, which enables Gerritsen to spin a tight web. Entangled in her own guilt, Ava isolates herself further and further, avoiding calls from her sister and living alone in the ominous Brodie’s Watch mansion, named for its builder, a shipping master lost to sea more than a hundred years ago. Although Brodie’s Watch initially frightens Ava, the moment she steps over the threshold, she feels inexplicably welcomed. Indeed, she is most welcome, as the shadows in her bedroom coalesce into the shape of a man, a man who may well be the ghost of Capt. Brodie. He stalks the house most nights, seducing Ava into not only the passions of love, but also atonement through punishment meted out for her sins. And so Gerritsen shifts a murder mystery into a Gothic thriller, replete with an unsteady widow’s walk, secret alcove, strange smells, ominous sensations, and the ghost. Even the prologue echoes the dream of Manderley from Du Maurier’s Rebecca. But then a dead body washes ashore, and the police investigation suggests the dead woman was killed before she hit the water. Fearful that her spectral lover may be a real-life murderer, Ava inquires about Charlotte Nielson, the young woman who rented Brodie’s Watch before her and left in an inexplicable hurry. But Ava’s investigation uncovers a disturbing list of dead women, which the townspeople seem to have spackled over. Who are they protecting?

This riveting Gothic thriller explores the limits of love, guilt, and punishment.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2095-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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