A psychological thriller that’s full of surprises and confronts the dangers of artificial happiness.

BLUE HAVEN

In King’s suspense novel, a newly wealthy woman buys a condo at an exclusive overseas development only to find that her new home is hiding troubling secrets.

Aloe Malone had a challenging early life, including abandonment by her mother, time in foster homes, and work at her aunt’s dingy diner. Things changed when she won the lottery and bought a place in Blue Haven, the world’s most exclusive beachside housing development. The experience of moving, however, was rather odd: She was rendered unconscious while traveling there, to keep its location secret, and upon arrival, she finds only five other residents. Although Blue Haven boasts the world’s tallest skyscraper, it’s a ghost town. Her concierge, Amir, is welcoming, though, and the other residents are also happy to see her; they include an eccentric retired couple, a muscled 25-year-old named Westley, and a former opera singer named Bibs. They have amazing dinners on the beach: “Aloe loved the ambiance, cast somewhere between Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and an episode of Survivor.” But when she tries phoning her grandmother and others, no one picks up. A diary she finds under her bed, written by a former resident, tells a chilling story that suggests something at Blue Haven is terribly amiss. King’s smart thriller starts as an enticing trouble-in-paradise drama, but it soon blossoms into something more complex—an unexpectedly engaging psychological quagmire with SF elements. As Aloe’s mental state deteriorates, more is revealed about her identity and about Blue Haven, leading to a twist that the author handles with dexterity and which makes the story’s scientific aspects hard to resist. King also excels at portraying how innovation, when taken to an extreme, can take a heavy toll on human relationships. Along the way, the work also touches on intriguing ethical issues.

A psychological thriller that’s full of surprises and confronts the dangers of artificial happiness.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-61188-320-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: The Story Plant

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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A smart summer escape.

PORTRAIT OF AN UNKNOWN WOMAN

Silva’s latest Gabriel Allon novel is a bit of a throwback—in the best possible way.

One-time assassin and legendary spymaster Gabriel Allon has finally retired. After saying farewell to his friends and colleagues in Israel, he moves with his wife, Chiara, and their two young children to a piano nobile overlooking Venice’s Grand Canal. His plan is to return to the workshop where he learned to restore paintings as an employee—but only after he spends several weeks recovering from the bullet wound that left him dead for several minutes in The Cellist (2021). Of course, no one expects Gabriel to entirely withdraw from the field, and, sure enough, a call from his friend and occasional asset Julian Isherwood sends him racing around the globe on the trail of art forgers who are willing to kill to protect their extremely lucrative enterprise. Silva provides plenty of thrills and, as usual, offers a glimpse into the lifestyles of the outrageously wealthy. In the early books in this series, it was Gabriel’s work as an art restorer that set him apart from other action heroes, and his return to that world is the most rewarding part of this installment. It is true that, at this point in his storied career, Gabriel has become a nearly mythic figure. And Silva is counting on a lot of love—and willing suspension of disbelief—when Gabriel whips up four old master canvases that fool the world’s leading art experts as a lure for the syndicate selling fake paintings. That said, as Silva explains in an author’s note, the art market is rife with secrecy, subterfuge, and wishful thinking, in no small part because it is almost entirely unregulated. And, if anyone can crank out a Titian, a Tintoretto, a Gentileschi, and a Veronese in a matter of days, it’s Gabriel Allon. The author’s longtime fans may breathe a sigh of relief that this entry is relatively free of politics and the pandemic is nowhere in sight.

A smart summer escape.

Pub Date: July 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-283485-0

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Harper

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: tomorrow

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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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