A diabolically plotted creep show from a writer to watch.



A mentally disturbed young man tries to track down a woman who was kidnapped right before his eyes in Heard’s debut thriller.

Twenty-three-year-old Sean Suh has been institutionalized for most of his adult life and officially diagnosed as schizophrenic. Now he's been released and lives in Austin with his mother, a world-famous neurosurgeon. The very bad thing that got him committed is a thing of the past, or so he’d like to think. Realistically, putting his hands near a female neck or a knife block is probably not a good idea, but when he meets flame-haired pre-med student Annabelle at Four Corners, an amusement park where he spends most of his days sketching people, Sean is smitten. His hopes of lasting romance are soon shattered when he sees Annabelle thrown into a white truck and driven away, screaming his name. Sean is immediately a suspect, and his past doesn’t help, so he decides to find Annabelle on his own. His search takes him from the nightclubs of Austin to the dusty small town of Lone Herman, where the cops are not very friendly, especially to a goth Korean-American kid poking his nose where it doesn’t belong. As Sean digs deeper into Annabelle’s fraught past, he finds himself falling down a deep, dark rabbit hole. The crushingly lonely Sean, who narrates, is a most unusual and very conflicted antihero. Heard challenges readers to empathize with him despite his horrific past, and the blazing narrative gleefully subverts a few horror/thriller tropes. The 1986 setting, which places the book's action at the tail end of a prolific stretch of serial killers, lends a grungy feel, and readers might even be forgiven for expecting the chainsaw-wielding Leatherface to appear during a few of the rural Texas sequences. Heard doesn’t rely on a lot of gore, though there's an undercurrent of low menace that builds to a nearly unbearable crescendo in the last act. In less capable hands, the delightfully dark twist and final denouement might not work, but Heard pulls it off.

A diabolically plotted creep show from a writer to watch.

Pub Date: Dec. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7783-6934-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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A strongly felt, if not terribly gripping, sendoff for a Turow favorite nearly 35 years after his appearance in Presumed...

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Trying his final case at 85, celebrated criminal defense lawyer Sandy Stern defends a Nobel-winning doctor and longtime friend whose cancer wonder drug saved Stern's life but subsequently led to the deaths of others.

Federal prosecutors are charging the eminent doctor, Kiril Pafko, with murder, fraud, and insider trading. An Argentine émigré like Stern, Pafko is no angel. His counselor is certain he sold stock in the company that produced the drug, g-Livia, before users' deaths were reported. The 78-year-old Nobelist is a serial adulterer whose former and current lovers have strong ties to the case. Working for one final time alongside his daughter and proficient legal partner, Marta, who has announced she will close the firm and retire along with her father following the case, Stern must deal not only with "senior moments" before Chief Judge Sonya "Sonny" Klonsky, but also his physical frailty. While taking a deep dive into the ups and downs of a complicated big-time trial, Turow (Testimony, 2017, etc.) crafts a love letter to his profession through his elegiac appreciation of Stern, who has appeared in all his Kindle County novels. The grandly mannered attorney (his favorite response is "Just so") has dedicated himself to the law at great personal cost. But had he not spent so much of his life inside courtrooms, "He never would have known himself." With its bland prosecutors, frequent focus on technical details like "double-blind clinical trials," and lack of real surprises, the novel likely will disappoint some fans of legal thrillers. But this smoothly efficient book gains timely depth through its discussion of thorny moral issues raised by a drug that can extend a cancer sufferer's life expectancy at the risk of suddenly ending it.

A strongly felt, if not terribly gripping, sendoff for a Turow favorite nearly 35 years after his appearance in Presumed Innocent.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4813-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.


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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