Another exquisite portrait of troubled modern life from Winton, who solidifies his reputation as one of the best writers at...

EYRIE

An odd troika stumbles through the decadence of a world on the verge of collapse in Winton’s (Breath, 2008, etc.) resonant, oddly cheerful yarn.

Tom Keely is a mess. A one-time environmental activist, he’s failed at that, and spectacularly. He’s failed at marriage, at fatherhood. Now, living high up in a seedy apartment tower on the farthest edge of western Australia, he has recurrent fears of falling out the window and off the face of the Earth—small wonder, given his staggering chemical diet. Winton’s narrative opens with a king-hell hangover, Keely lying as still as he can in the growing heat of morning, contemplating a stain on the rug: “He had no idea what it was or how it got there. But the sight of it put the wind right up him.” Things don’t promise to get much better for him in that hellish tower among the “stench of strangers” until, hitherto oblivious, he discovers that a neighbor is someone he vaguely knew in his younger days, way back when things were good and promised to get better. As with Tom, the years have not been kind to Gemma Buck, once quietly attractive, now guardian to her grandson, a spooky little kid given to apocalyptic visions and to saying things such as “The birds in the world will die....All of them, the birds. They die.” If young Kai’s dreams are haunted by extinction and doom, he’s got cause: Mom’s a jailbird, dad’s a thug, and they’re hitting Gemma up hard for money she doesn’t have. Dyspeptic in a way that would please a David Lodge or Malcolm Bradbury, Tom unsteadily tries to help, finally given a mission to fill his idle, meaningless days. But is he Kai’s rescuer, or is Kai his? Sometimes brooding, always superbly well-written, Winton’s story studies family—even a family that is as postmodern and anti-nuclear as our hapless trio—both as anchor to keep the ship from drifting away and anchor to keep whomever it’s tied to submerged.

Another exquisite portrait of troubled modern life from Winton, who solidifies his reputation as one of the best writers at work in Australia—and, indeed, in English—today.

Pub Date: June 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-374-15134-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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The characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once...

DELIVER US FROM EVIL

In Baldacci’s 19th (True Blue, 2009, etc.), boy and girl monster-hunters meet cute.

Evan Waller, aka Fadir Kuchin, aka “the Butcher of Kiev,” aka “the Ukrainian psychopath,” is one of those deep-dyed villains a certain kind of fiction can’t do without. Serving with distinction as part of the Soviet Union’s KGB, he joyfully and indiscriminately killed thousands. Now, many years later, posing as a successful businessman, he’s vacationing in Provence where, unbeknownst to him, two separate clandestine operations are being mounted by people who do not regard him with favor. Reggie Campion—28 and gorgeous—spearheads the first, an ad hoc group of monster-hunting vigilantes. Studly, tall Shaw (no first name supplied) is point guard for a rival team, shadowy enough to leave the matter of its origin ambiguous. While their respective teams reconnoiter and jockey for position, studly boy meets gorgeous girl. Monster-hunters are famous for having trust issues, but clearly these are drawn to each other in the time-honored Hollywood fashion. Shaw saves Reggie’s life. She returns the favor. The attraction deepens and heats up to the point where team-members on both sides grow unsettled by the loss of focus, singularly inopportune since, as monsters go, Waller rises to the second coming of Caligula—ample testimony furnished by a six-page, unsparingly detailed torture scene. In the end, the stalkers strike, bullets fly, screams curdle the blood, love has its innings and a monster does what a monster’s got to do.

The characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once again show the stuff it’s made of.

Pub Date: April 20, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-446-56408-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Avon A/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2010

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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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