An excellent thriller that dips its toes in waters both sinister and spiritual.


In this supernatural novel, the residents of a Florida suburb challenge a dead killer able to jump between bodies.

Margate, Florida, is a quiet suburb full of good neighbors, clean yards, and safe children. It’s the perfect place for recently deceased serial killer Eli Wickenscholz to wreak havoc from beyond “the veil.” As an entity of pure energy, he’d like to re-enter the physical realm. Doing so means absorbing the dark potential lurking in the average citizen. He begins manipulating some of the residents’ “psychic and sexual energy.” Lexi-Jo Lyman, meanwhile, has moved to Margate to start over. Her past involved dating Kono, a con man. Now she’s hiding from Ghost, the hitman who killed Kono. Elsewhere, Toni Arrigone runs the Heaton Motel and Bar. Toni is sure that the business’ former owners, the Muelensteins, hid “a large sum of money” that they didn’t put in the bank. Other Margate denizens caught in Eli’s trap are young Teddy Millhausen-Jones, who can tell that the sex-crazed adults are “under a spell,” and psychic Cueball Kusiniski, who, along with his daughter, Saige, learns that only a special amulet can keep Eli’s essence within a host body of his choosing. Into the mix comes Det. Kellie Sierra to carve logic from the madness. This thriller by Schimanski (Meter of Redemption, 2017, etc.) and Tiernan (Yield, 2016, etc.) feels like quintessential Florida pulp, right down to the disposal of bodies in the Everglades. The tight narrative moves like an alligator through water, giving an equal jolt of life to numerous quirky characters, including Herbert Duvane, an albino computer repairman. He and Lexi-Jo discuss Kundalini energy, which is “the latent blueprint of all that we are and all we are yet to be.” When Eli’s possessions begin, he picks likely and unlikely hosts, providing satisfying twists, among them the killer’s inability to fully control certain people. Florida’s natural magic doesn’t go unnoticed, as in the line “Teddy was mesmerized by the majestic beauty and the foreboding wilderness of the Everglades.” The finale brings surprising closure to various characters, leaving exciting space for a sequel.

An excellent thriller that dips its toes in waters both sinister and spiritual.

Pub Date: June 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68470-318-0

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Lulu Publishing Services

Review Posted Online: Nov. 1, 2019

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The years pass by at a fast and steamy clip in Blume’s latest adult novel (Wifey, not reviewed; Smart Women, 1984) as two friends find loyalties and affections tested as they grow into young women. In sixth grade, when Victoria Weaver is asked by new girl Caitlin Somers to spend the summer with her on Martha’s Vineyard, her life changes forever. Victoria, or more commonly Vix, lives in a small house; her brother has muscular dystrophy; her mother is unhappy, and money is scarce. Caitlin, on the other hand, lives part of the year with her wealthy mother Phoebe, who’s just moved to Albuquerque, and summers with her father Lamb, equally affluent, on the Vineyard. The story of how this casual invitation turns the two girls into what they call "Summer sisters" is prefaced with a prologue in which Vix is asked by Caitlin to be her matron of honor. The years in between are related in brief segments by numerous characters, but mostly by Vix. Caitlin, determined never to be ordinary, is always testing the limits, and in adolescence falls hard for Von, an older construction worker, while Vix falls for his friend Bru. Blume knows the way kids and teens speak, but her two female leads are less credible as they reach adulthood. After high school, Caitlin travels the world and can’t understand why Vix, by now at Harvard on a scholarship and determined to have a better life than her mother has had, won’t drop out and join her. Though the wedding briefly revives Vix’s old feelings for Bru, whom Caitlin is marrying, Vix is soon in love with Gus, another old summer friend, and a more compatible match. But Caitlin, whose own demons have been hinted at, will not be so lucky. The dark and light sides of friendship breathlessly explored in a novel best saved for summer beachside reading.

Pub Date: May 8, 1998

ISBN: 0-385-32405-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1998

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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