DEAD IN THE WATER

The worst thing about working as a dentist’s receptionist is that it just never ends. Even after Mimsie Crane discovers her boss, Edward Chambers, stripped and strapped to his own dental chair, his privates adorned with a bunch of daffodils and the walls festooned with anatomically descriptive graffiti, and he hastily offers her a month’s salary in lieu of notice on the condition that she keep mum about the affair, she still can’t shake off its fallout. Though the money buys her a five-week Mediterranean vacation, the cushion isn’t big enough to keep blustering Arif Khan from materializing on her return, wanting to know what’s become of Edward Chambers and threatening her if she doesn’t tell him. But Mimsie can’t tell him: Chambers has simply vanished, presumably drowned, according to his grim sister Phoebe; and Mimsie, thoroughly intimidated by Khan, is only too happy to elude him by taking an unlikely post safely outside London, courtesy of her frequent employer-of-last-resort, builder Steve Epps. Using Mimsie’s gift of gab and the nurse’s uniform Chambers had her buy, Steve insinuates her into the household of retired cruise-ship captain Toby Quinn, caught between grieving for his late wife and resisting his rapacious niece’s plans to consign him to a nursing home and grab his assets. The day that Mimsie finds Captain Quinn dead is also the day she learns Chambers’s ex-nurse Lynne Peters has been strangled. But don’t expect any closer connection between the two halves of this odd hodgepodge. Armstrong (The Wrong Road, p. 306, etc.) this time seems to be modeling herself on lesser Agatha Christie—They Came to Baghdad, say—with prose as cluttered as her plot.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-7278-2229-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Severn House

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1999

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This anxiety-fueled stand-alone from Edgar nominee Gaylin (What Remains of Me, 2016, etc.) takes the gulf that naturally...

IF I DIE TONIGHT

After a hit-and-run kills a high school student, the court of public opinion convicts a lonely outcast.

When Jackie Reed hears her 17-year-old son, Wade, sneaking out the night before the SATs, she knows she should stop him; instead, she pops a Xanax and returns to bed. At 4 a.m., Jackie’s 13-year-old, Connor, wakes to find a rain-soaked Wade hiding something in his closet; he considers tattling but promises to keep quiet. These seemingly innocuous decisions come back to haunt Jackie and Connor the next morning. While Officer Pearl Maze was working the graveyard shift at the Havenkill, New York, police department, Amy Nathanson burst through the door claiming to have been carjacked. According to Amy, her screams summoned 17-year-old Liam Miller, whom the thief ran over during his escape. The cops canvass the neighborhood for witnesses, and the Reeds are stunned to realize that Wade matches the suspect’s description. Evidence mounts against him, and the community ostracizes his family, but still Wade refuses to divulge his whereabouts at the time of the accident. The book opens with Wade’s suicide note, then flashes back five days and unfolds from the perspectives of Jackie, Connor, Pearl, and Amy. This narrative shift maximizes suspense by forcing readers to guess at Wade’s thoughts and actions, allowing Gaylin to insightfully explore the crime’s ripple effects.

This anxiety-fueled stand-alone from Edgar nominee Gaylin (What Remains of Me, 2016, etc.) takes the gulf that naturally develops between teenagers and their families and stocks it with sharks.

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-264111-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how...

THE A LIST

A convicted killer’s list of five people he wants dead runs the gamut from the wife he’s already had murdered to franchise heroine Ali Reynolds.

Back in the day, women came from all over to consult Santa Clarita fertility specialist Dr. Edward Gilchrist. Many of them left his care happily pregnant, never dreaming that the father of the babies they carried was none other than the physician himself, who donated his own sperm rather than that of the handsome, athletic, disease-free men pictured in his scrapbook. When Alexandra Munsey’s son, Evan, is laid low by the kidney disease he’s inherited from his biological father and she returns to Gilchrist in search of the donor’s medical records, the roof begins to fall in on him. By the time it’s done falling, he’s serving a life sentence in Folsom Prison for commissioning the death of his wife, Dawn, the former nurse and sometime egg donor who’d turned on him. With nothing left to lose, Gilchrist tattoos himself with the initials of five people he blames for his fall: Dawn; Leo Manuel Aurelio, the hit man he’d hired to dispose of her; Kaitlyn Todd, the nurse/receptionist who took Dawn’s place; Alex Munsey, whose search for records upset his apple cart; and Ali Reynolds, the TV reporter who’d helped put Alex in touch with the dozen other women who formed the Progeny Project because their children looked just like hers. No matter that Ali’s been out of both California and the news business for years; Gilchrist and his enablers know that revenge can’t possibly be served too cold. Wonder how far down that list they’ll get before Ali, aided once more by Frigg, the methodical but loose-cannon AI first introduced in Duel to the Death (2018), turns on them?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how little the boundary-challenged AI, who gets into the case more or less inadvertently, differs from your standard human sidekick with issues.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5101-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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