This thriller aims right for the heart and never lets go.

EMMA IN THE NIGHT

A tense thriller explores the bond between sisters and family dynamics that give new meaning to the term “dysfunctional.”

Three years ago, 17-year-old Emma Tanner and her 15-year-old sister, Cassandra, left home, disappearing into the night; as Walker's (All Is Not Forgotten, 2016, etc.) book opens, Cass shows up at her family’s house—without Emma. Dr. Abby Walker of the FBI, a forensic psychiatrist who’s been on the case from the beginning, is desperate to find out what happened and to find Emma before it’s too late. Cass tells Abby she and Emma had been arguing the night they took off and that it soon became obvious that Emma was packing up to leave. Cass, hoping to get her sister in trouble, hid in the car when Emma drove off, heading to the beach, where she was met by a man and woman Cass didn't recognize. When Cass revealed herself, they decided to take her with them as they left for a remote island off the coast of Maine. Emma was pregnant, Cass says, and the couple had offered to help her, but what they really had planned was to keep the baby for themselves. Cass finally managed to escape, she says, but without Emma. It’s a harrowing tale, and Cass says all she wants is to find Emma, but Abby suspects she's hiding something. Cass’ first-person narrative, interspersed with Abby’s investigation, paints a shocking picture of Cass’ ordeal and her family’s disturbing history. Her mother, Judy Martin, has always used her beauty and charm to manipulate her family, and her girls had to flatter her to win her affection. She was jealous of the attention given to her beautiful daughters, which threatened her fragile ego, and she was always scheming to get what she wanted—even seducing her stepson, Hunter, who was obsessed with Emma. Cass is a survivor, forced to become an adult very quickly, and readers will root for her as she tells her disturbing story and looks back on what could have been, when hope was all she and Emma had.

This thriller aims right for the heart and never lets go.

Pub Date: Aug. 8, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-14143-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

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

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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King fans won’t be disappointed, though most will likely prefer the scarier likes of The Shining and It.

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THE INSTITUTE

The master of modern horror returns with a loose-knit parapsychological thriller that touches on territory previously explored in Firestarter and Carrie.

Tim Jamieson is a man emphatically not in a hurry. As King’s (The Outsider, 2018, etc.) latest opens, he’s bargaining with a flight attendant to sell his seat on an overbooked run from Tampa to New York. His pockets full, he sticks out his thumb and winds up in the backwater South Carolina town of DuPray (should we hear echoes of “pray”? Or “depraved”?). Turns out he’s a decorated cop, good at his job and at reading others (“You ought to go see Doc Roper,” he tells a local. “There are pills that will brighten your attitude”). Shift the scene to Minneapolis, where young Luke Ellis, precociously brilliant, has been kidnapped by a crack extraction team, his parents brutally murdered so that it looks as if he did it. Luke is spirited off to Maine—this is King, so it’s got to be Maine—and a secret shadow-government lab where similarly conscripted paranormally blessed kids, psychokinetic and telepathic, are made to endure the Skinnerian pain-and-reward methods of the evil Mrs. Sigsby. How to bring the stories of Tim and Luke together? King has never minded detours into the unlikely, but for this one, disbelief must be extra-willingly suspended. In the end, their forces joined, the two and their redneck allies battle the sophisticated secret agents of The Institute in a bloodbath of flying bullets and beams of mental energy (“You’re in the south now, Annie had told these gunned-up interlopers. She had an idea they were about to find out just how true that was"). It’s not King at his best, but he plays on current themes of conspiracy theory, child abuse, the occult, and Deep State malevolence while getting in digs at the current occupant of the White House, to say nothing of shadowy evil masterminds with lisps.

King fans won’t be disappointed, though most will likely prefer the scarier likes of The Shining and It.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9821-1056-7

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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