by Vince Bailey ‧ RELEASE DATE: Aug. 1, 2020
A rollicking, Western-flavored frightfest.
Awards & Accolades
Werewolves and worse haunt the Arizona desert in this supernatural thriller.
Bailey’s yarn, the second installment of his Curtis Jefferson trilogy, braids together loosely connected episodes involving macabre goings-on in rural southern Arizona, circa 1964. Framing the novel is the story of Curtis Jefferson, a Black teenager unjustly imprisoned for arson in the Fort Grant reform school, the former site of a U.S. Army outpost where 144 Apache women and children were massacred by vigilantes in 1871. Among the challenges Curtis faces are a violent, racist fellow inmate, periodic stampedes of ghost riders, and a werewolf that lunges at him when he briefly manages to escape. Meanwhile, local cafe owner Isabel Cienfuegos confronts similar problems. Her nephew Rayis a metal sculptor who’s crafting a coyote-themed memorial, commissioned by a mysterious Apache medicine man named Ezra; meanwhile, she has repeated run-ins with the werewolf who’s skulking about her restaurant—including an attempted rape. A third subplot concerns Pima policeman Eduardo Cruz and paralegal Betty Wood, who are trying to prove the innocence of Kenny Armenta, a catatonic man in a psychiatric ward who’s accused of tearing out his wife’s throat. Around the little-known real-life tragedy of the Camp Grant massacre, Bailey spins a colorful, intricate fictional world, steeped in well-observed Southwestern atmosphere and teeming with paranormal oddballs—including a headless lawyer who gallantly drives to the rescue of distressed people in his black Lincoln Continental and a squad of very, very old cavalrymen who still draw paychecks. This is not the spookiest of tales; the supernatural elements are matter-of-fact, and the horror flows more from grisly shock effects than from suspense. However, the characters are sharply drawn and vibrant, especially Ezra, whose infectious zest for deviltry (“Ah, the sound of human wailing and the gnashing of teeth—sweet music to my ears”) dominates the proceedings—although he meets his match in captivating spitfire Isabel. Bailey’s vigorous, if sometimes purplish, prose will keep readers turning pages: “Zombie equestrians—a murderous posse on a mission from hell—were abroad again in the night!”A rollicking, Western-flavored frightfest.
Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2020
Page Count: 356
Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020
Review Program: Kirkus Indie
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by Kathy Reichs ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 17, 2020
Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.
Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.
A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.
Pub Date: March 17, 2020
Page Count: 352
Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020
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by Colleen Hoover ‧ RELEASE DATE: Dec. 8, 2020
A unique story of transcendent love.
An aimless young musician meets the girl of his dreams only to have his newfound happiness threatened by several inexplicable—and possibly supernatural—events.
The story opens as Leeds Gabriel meets with a detective while his girlfriend, Layla, is restrained in a room one flight above them. Through the interview, readers learn that Leeds was wasting both his time and his musical talent playing backup for a small-town wedding troupe called Garrett’s Band when he spied Layla dancing her heart out to their mediocre music at a wedding. When Leeds approaches Layla, their connection is both instant and intense. A blissful courtship follows, but then Leeds makes the mistake of posting a picture of himself with Layla on social media. A former girlfriend–turned-stalker wastes no time in finding and attacking Layla. Layla spends months recovering in a hospital, and it seems the girl Leeds fell for might be forever changed. Gone is her special spark, her quirkiness, and the connection that had entranced Leeds months before. In a last-ditch effort to save their relationship, he brings Layla back to the bed-and-breakfast where they first met. When they get there, though, Leeds meets Willow, another guest, and finds himself drawn to her in spite of himself. As events unfold, it becomes clear that Willow will either be the key to saving Leeds’ relationship with Layla or the catalyst that finally extinguishes the last shreds of their epic romance. Told entirely from Leeds’ point of view, the author’s first foray into paranormal romance does not disappoint. Peppered with elements of mystery, psychological thriller, and contemporary romance, the novel explores questions about how quickly true love can develop, as well as the conflicts that can imperil even the strongest connections. Despite a limited cast of characters and very few setting changes, the narrative manages to remain both fast-paced and engaging. The conclusion leaves a few too many loose ends, but the chemistry between the characters and unexpected twists throughout make for a satisfying read.A unique story of transcendent love.
Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020
Page Count: 301
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020
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