An intriguing, if somewhat uneven, blend of historical speculation and fast-paced thriller.

STRANGE KARMA

In Healy’s novel, a young woman inherits a fortune and a mystery.

American Cynthia Graham assumed that her estranged grandmother had died years ago, so when a British solicitor approaches her with news of an inheritance, she’s more than a little surprised. The legacy is a neglected cottage in the Lake District of England, some land, and a small amount of money. Cynthia finds a cryptic letter, written by her great-grandmother Emma, among her grandmother’s things and then discovers a red gemstone hidden in a desk’s secret compartment. It’s not just any gem; it’s a red diamond, one of the most valuable stones on Earth. Moreover, she finds a batch of letters that indicates that she’s the great-granddaughter of Sandy Irvine, George Mallory’s climbing partner on the ill-fated 1924 Mount Everest ascent. Irvine, it turns out, acquired two gemstones from a local during that trip—only one of which reached Emma. Intrigued by the provenance of the diamond and the whereabouts of its twin, Cynthia heads to Kathmandu where, aided by Gurkha ex-soldier Dorje, she sets about getting to the top of a mountain and the bottom of a mystery. It turns out that someone else acquired the second diamond through nefarious means and is hell-bent on getting the first. What ensues is an exciting, well-written blend of thriller and historical reconstruction; the latter element feels generic at times, but it’s convincing, nonetheless. The quality of the prose is strong throughout, with the depiction of the frozen wasteland of the Himalayas being particularly effective. Things fall apart a bit in the closing chapters, though, with the risky and arguably unnecessary introduction of a mythological element that threatens to undermine the realism of what has gone before. That aside, this is an assured piece of writing from a promising new author.

An intriguing, if somewhat uneven, blend of historical speculation and fast-paced thriller.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 356

Publisher: Manuscript

Review Posted Online: Feb. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE

In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8272-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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Crave chills and thrills but don’t have time for a King epic? This will do the job before bedtime. Not that you’ll sleep.

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LATER

Horrormeister King follows a boy’s journey from childhood to adolescence among the dead—and their even creepier living counterparts.

Jamie Conklin sees dead people. Not for very long—they fade away after a week or so—but during that time he can talk to them, ask them questions, and compel them to answer truthfully. His uncanny gift at first seems utterly unrelated to his mother Tia’s work as a literary agent, but the links become disturbingly clear when her star client, Regis Thomas, dies shortly after starting work on the newest entry in his bestselling Roanoke Saga, and Tia and her lover, NYPD Detective Liz Dutton, drive Jamie out to Cobblestone Cottage to encourage the late author to dictate an outline of his latest page-turner so that Tia, who’s fallen on hard times, can write it in his name instead of returning his advance and her cut. Now that she’s seen what Jamie can do, Liz takes it on herself to arrange an interview in which Jamie will ask Kenneth Therriault, a serial bomber who’s just killed himself, where he’s stowed his latest explosive device before it can explode posthumously. His post-mortem encounter with Therriault exacts a high price on Jamie, who now finds himself more haunted than ever, though he never gives up on the everyday experiences in which King roots all his nightmares.

Crave chills and thrills but don’t have time for a King epic? This will do the job before bedtime. Not that you’ll sleep.

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7890-9649-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Hard Case Crime

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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