A tale of white-collar crime that crackles with energy.

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WHERE THE WOLF LIES

In this debut thriller, an American banker’s business trip to Paris finds him unwittingly entangled in an embezzler’s deadly revenge plot.

Paul Hart’s boss at Calhoun Capital in New York, James Hutchens, sends him to Paris to take a closer look at Renard Industries. CEO Claude Renard is a client at Calhoun, but as his current holdings are “minimal,” Hutchens wants him to move more money to the American company. Once in Paris, Hart initially meets Renard’s director of affairs, Clara Nouvelle, who essentially vets him on her boss’s behalf. Hart is understandably anxious. He has no strategy for gathering information on Renard Industries, and Hutchens has even implied that Hart’s career is at stake. But Hart finds solace in Clara, and he falls for the beguiling, self-assured woman in no time. The business trip takes an unexpected turn after Clara and Hart head to London for “a black-tie charity auction.” It’s an opportunity for Hart to meet associates of Renard’s, including his London banker, Igor Romanski. Hart doesn’t trust Igor, in part for his apparent smugness and aggressive mannerisms. But readers know that Igor has been embezzling money and laundering it for quite some time in London. And he has even bigger plans, including some type of revenge that includes an attack. As Igor’s scheme soon entails outright murder, Hart is in imminent danger. He also realizes that someone’s deception has put him in trouble with the Parisian authorities, and he may have to clear his name, provided he can stay alive. Though Flynn’s novel has little action or suspense, the plot moves at a steady clip. Hart is in Paris relatively quickly while his romance with Clara is almost instantaneous. The protagonist’s backstory is captivating: Dating Hutchens’ daughter, Veronica, led to his Calhoun job. Despite Veronica dumping Hart, Hutchens has continued to employ him. This makes Hart a vulnerable and sympathetic character, especially in light of Hutchens vaguely threatening his position at Calhoun. Although Hart concentrates on and periodically ogles Clara’s physical traits, she is a resourceful character whose many attributes gradually come to light, especially in the final act. The author shrewdly keeps the characters to a minimum and the story largely free of complications, like extraneous subplots. While this approach produces a clearly defined good guy and bad guy (Hart and Igor), there’s an overall wariness among other characters. More than one individual, for example, has been keeping secrets from Hart. Those secrets ultimately result in several plot twists, though at least a couple are ones readers will easily predict. Still, that doesn’t hamper the action when it finally arrives in the form of a shootout, a car chase, and more. Throughout the book, Flynn rigorously details environments, like scenes in London: “Continuing towards the Thames, they emerged from the smaller, narrow streets into an open square….Apartments were being refurbished, and dumpsters and heavy machinery were scattered about, the old brick buildings surrounding them looking in dire need of repair.”

A tale of white-collar crime that crackles with energy.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Papillon Press

Review Posted Online: April 29, 2019

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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