A taut thriller that’s peppered with acerbic humor.

BLOOD WILL HAVE BLOOD

An actor reluctantly joins the Irish mob in Carry’s crime novel.

When struggling actor Scott Russo and his dealer, Freddie, arrive at Tobias Milton’s SoHo apartment to start Scott in a new job as a marijuana delivery runner, they show up in time to witness Irish mob boss Aidan Murphy’s takeover of Milton’s marijuana business. On his train ride home that night, Scott reflects on his “own shortcomings as an actor and the futility of my stagnant career.” When Aidan summons Scott to Hell’s Kitchen for a meeting, Carry keeps readers in a state of anxiety and uncertainty about Scott’s future. The criminal tells Scott that the young man has a gift—an observational detachment that allows him to “function when you’re about to shit your pants”—which comes in handy when witnessing violent murder. Throughout the novel, the protagonist’s first-person commentary about the world around him gives this satirical work its heft. When describing how he lost a job as a waiter for eating part of a customer’s appetizer, for instance, Scott describes his supervisor’s face in vivid, cinematic slow motion: “her right eye twitched and her jaw muscles vibrated with tension.” In addition to mocking the restaurant world, Scott effectively ridicules aspects of his artistic calling; other actors are “a stupid, narcissistic bunch” with “self-absorbed, deluded brains,” and his acting coach, Allison Rucker, is portrayed as an alcoholic crackpot. Throughout, Carry adheres to Chekhov’s famous rule—if a gun is present in a scene, it must eventually go off—and every scene in this novel moves the story along in a meaningful way. The author’s ability to control the novel’s pacing and keep it uncluttered will appeal to fans of classic noir.

A taut thriller that’s peppered with acerbic humor.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-66290-597-1

Page Count: 231

Publisher: Bad Alley Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 31, 2020

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Densely plotted and replete with incident if you can overlook the insufferable narrator.

WIN

Memo to fans who’ve longed for Windsor Horne Lockwood III, the moneyed, omnicompetent buddy of sports agent Myron Bolitar, to snag a starring role of his own: Beware what you wish for.

Nothing would connect privileged Win with the murder of the reclusive tenant of an exclusive Upper West Side building if the police hadn’t found a painting inside Ry Strauss’ apartment—a Vermeer belonging to Win’s family that was stolen long ago while on loan to Haverford College—along with a monogrammed suitcase belonging to Win himself. The two discoveries tie Win not only to the murder, but to the Jane Street Six, a group of student activists Strauss led even longer ago. The Six’s most notoriously subversive action, the bombing of an empty building in 1973, left several innocents accidentally dead and the law determined to track down the perps. But except for Vanessa Hogan, whom Billy Rowan tearfully visited soon after the bombing to beg her forgiveness for his role in bringing about the death of her son, no one’s seen hide nor hair of the Six ever since. The roots of the outrage go even deeper for Win, whose uncle, Aldrich Powers Lockwood, was killed and whose cousin, Patricia, to whom he’d given that suitcase, was one of 10 women kidnapped, imprisoned, and raped in an unsolved crime. These meaty complications are duly unfolded, and gobs of cash thrown at them, by the ludicrously preening, self-infatuated Win, who announces, “It’s good to be me,” and “I can be charming when I want to be.” As if.

Densely plotted and replete with incident if you can overlook the insufferable narrator.

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4821-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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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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