A highly entertaining caper set in a sleazy London underworld.

NOTES ON A MISSING G-STRING

A low-key jazz guitarist finds himself embroiled in a bitter feud between a high-class escort and a gangland boss in Kent’s novel.

Five years after surviving a shipwreck in the Gulf of Alaska, musician Jason Davey is back home in London, enjoying a relatively tranquil life as a resident guitarist at the Blue Devil nightclub. Then a visit from an old friend, fellow cruise ship worker Sal Jones, leads him down a path that takes him a long way out of his comfort zone. Sal’s friend, sex worker Holly Medford, had £10,000 (and a G-string) stolen from her locker while she was working at a local “gentlemen’s club.”She needed the money to repay a debt to notorious gangster Arthur Braskey, who’s growing increasingly impatient. Someone needs to track down the cash before Holly finds herself in real danger, and because Jason has done a little amateur sleuthing before, Sal thinks that the guitar player would be the ideal man for the job. The £10,000, though, turns out to be a mere drop in the ocean—and Arthur is a less-than-sympathetic creditor, as Jason learns the hard way. Despite the novel’s rather garish title, it’s a fairly impressive crime thriller. Jason is a well-crafted reluctant hero, and Kent’s writing is slick and engaging throughout. Jason has appeared in her fiction before—in 2012’s Cold Play and a later novella—and this entry is a little slow to hit its stride, as the loss of £10,000 and a lingerie item seems a rather modest premise for a crime novel; it’s not until around the halfway mark that things really start to escalate. However, this is a minor gripe, as even when the case seems underwhelming, the prose is strong enough to carry it through. There’s a tangential plotline involving Holly’s brother and a member of Jason’s band that becomes too conveniently relevant to the main story, but this doesn’t detract significantly from what is otherwise a skillfully crafted crime novel.

A highly entertaining caper set in a sleazy London underworld.

Pub Date: July 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9880826-5-6

Page Count: 220

Publisher: Blue Devil Books

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2020

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A weird, wild ride.

THE HOUSE ACROSS THE LAKE

Celebrity scandal and a haunted lake drive the narrative in this bestselling author’s latest serving of subtly ironic suspense.

Sager’s debut, Final Girls (2017), was fun and beautifully crafted. His most recent novels—Home Before Dark (2020) and Survive the Night (2021) —have been fun and a bit rickety. His new novel fits that mold. Narrator Casey Fletcher grew up watching her mother dazzle audiences, and then she became an actor herself. While she never achieves the “America’s sweetheart” status her mother enjoyed, Casey makes a career out of bit parts in movies and on TV and meatier parts onstage. Then the death of her husband sends her into an alcoholic spiral that ends with her getting fired from a Broadway play. When paparazzi document her substance abuse, her mother exiles her to the family retreat in Vermont. Casey has a dry, droll perspective that persists until circumstances overwhelm her, and if you’re getting a Carrie Fisher vibe from Casey Fletcher, that is almost certainly not an accident. Once in Vermont, she passes the time drinking bourbon and watching the former supermodel and the tech mogul who live across the lake through a pair of binoculars. Casey befriends Katherine Royce after rescuing her when she almost drowns and soon concludes that all is not well in Katherine and Tom’s marriage. Then Katherine disappears….It would be unfair to say too much about what happens next, but creepy coincidences start piling up, and eventually, Casey has to face the possibility that maybe some of the eerie legends about Lake Greene might have some truth to them. Sager certainly delivers a lot of twists, and he ventures into what is, for him, new territory. Are there some things that don’t quite add up at the end? Maybe, but asking that question does nothing but spoil a highly entertaining read.

A weird, wild ride.

Pub Date: June 21, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-18319-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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A unique story of transcendent love.

LAYLA

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

ISBN: 978-1-5420-0017-8

Page Count: 301

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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