Buried under all the volcanic ash, false trails and endless recriminations is a puzzle whose grim solution is worthy of...

ASHES TO DUST

A trip down a flight of stairs leads to an unspeakable discovery with appalling consequences for Reykjavík attorney Thóra Gudmundsdóttir and her latest client.

No one has been able to enter the house in which Markús Magnússon had been brought up since a volcanic eruption in Iceland’s Westmann Islands in 1973. Now that an archeological project is excavating several of the houses buried under lava and ash, Markús has engaged Thóra to accompany him and the project’s representative as he searches the house for personal articles his family might have left behind in their hurried evacuation. But he insists on going down to the basement alone, and when he calls out to her, she joins him to find a horrifying scene: three long-dead bodies and the severed head of a fourth. The story Markús tells is as shaky as he is. Alda Thorgeirsdóttir, the nurse he’d carried a torch for when they were in school together, had asked him to retrieve a box she’d asked him to get rid of just before the eruption—a box he’d left in the basement without ever opening it to reveal the head. Unfortunately for Markús, Alda’s in no position to confirm this wild tale because someone’s just killed her in a particularly fiendish way. So after the police lock up Markús for the 34-year-old murders, Thóra (Last Rituals, 2007, etc.) makes the rounds of three generations of locals searching for exculpatory evidence and alternate suspects. The former is hard to find, but the latter are plentiful in a world in which the sins of the fathers are visited without mercy on the children.

Buried under all the volcanic ash, false trails and endless recriminations is a puzzle whose grim solution is worthy of Stieg Larsson.

Pub Date: April 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-312-64174-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

THEN SHE WAS GONE

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

Did you like this book?

The characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once...

DELIVER US FROM EVIL

In Baldacci’s 19th (True Blue, 2009, etc.), boy and girl monster-hunters meet cute.

Evan Waller, aka Fadir Kuchin, aka “the Butcher of Kiev,” aka “the Ukrainian psychopath,” is one of those deep-dyed villains a certain kind of fiction can’t do without. Serving with distinction as part of the Soviet Union’s KGB, he joyfully and indiscriminately killed thousands. Now, many years later, posing as a successful businessman, he’s vacationing in Provence where, unbeknownst to him, two separate clandestine operations are being mounted by people who do not regard him with favor. Reggie Campion—28 and gorgeous—spearheads the first, an ad hoc group of monster-hunting vigilantes. Studly, tall Shaw (no first name supplied) is point guard for a rival team, shadowy enough to leave the matter of its origin ambiguous. While their respective teams reconnoiter and jockey for position, studly boy meets gorgeous girl. Monster-hunters are famous for having trust issues, but clearly these are drawn to each other in the time-honored Hollywood fashion. Shaw saves Reggie’s life. She returns the favor. The attraction deepens and heats up to the point where team-members on both sides grow unsettled by the loss of focus, singularly inopportune since, as monsters go, Waller rises to the second coming of Caligula—ample testimony furnished by a six-page, unsparingly detailed torture scene. In the end, the stalkers strike, bullets fly, screams curdle the blood, love has its innings and a monster does what a monster’s got to do.

The characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once again show the stuff it’s made of.

Pub Date: April 20, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-446-56408-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Avon A/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2010

Did you like this book?

more