Humanity is at low ebb in this enjoyable, if uneven, collection—Nesbø’s first.

THE JEALOUSY MAN

AND OTHER STORIES

On leave from his Harry Hole novels, Nesbø delivers stories ranging from dystopian visions to time-honored tales of duplicity and revenge.

Few of Nesbø's characters pass the decency test. A man's kindliness toward a sobbing woman seated next to him on a flight to London masks dark intentions. An assassin with a day job in Milan as a psychologist is himself marked for death by a sadistic hit man of greater repute. In San Sebastián, an ardent proponent of the multiverse is suspected of killing one of his "other" selves. An Austrian researcher hiding out in Spanish Sahara devises a formula for immortality to save his ailing wife only to fight off corporate types who will do anything to take possession of it. The estranged son of a billionaire thinks twice about saving his father from a deadly snakebite in Botswana. Nesbø is at his best in the long, wonderfully atmospheric title story, which shows off his gift for pulling one story out of another. Summoned to the Greek island of Kalymnos to investigate the possible murder of a man by the man's twin brother, Athens detective Nikos Balli—who specializes in sniffing out jealousy as a motive—ends up detecting an old friend's ill intentions during a mountain-climbing outing. Nesbø is less successful with "Rat Island," a baggy pandemic tale in which marauding bikers tear down the last vestiges of civilization while rich people plan their futures from the safety of a skyscraper. This story and others seem hastily drawn, and the author has a tendency to be too clever for his own good—the twistiest twists can arrive with a soft thud. But he never runs out of ideas or characters driven by inner thoughts.

Humanity is at low ebb in this enjoyable, if uneven, collection—Nesbø’s first.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-32100-3

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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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

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Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

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THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME

When a devoted husband and father disappears, his wife and daughter set out to find him.

Hannah Hall is deeply in love with her husband of one year, Owen Michaels. She’s also determined to win over his 16-year-old daughter, Bailey, who has made it very clear that she’s not thrilled with her new stepmother. Despite the drama, the family is mostly a happy one. They live in a lovely houseboat in Sausalito; Hannah is a woodturner whose handmade furniture brings in high-dollar clientele; and Owen works for The Shop, a successful tech firm. Their lives are shattered, however, when Hannah receives a note saying “Protect her” and can’t reach Owen by phone. Then there’s the bag full of cash Bailey finds in her school locker and the shocking news that The Shop’s CEO has been taken into custody. Hannah learns that the FBI has been investigating the firm for about a year regarding some hot new software they took to market before it was fully functional, falsifying their financial statements. Hannah refuses to believe her husband is involved in the fraud, and a U.S. marshal assigned to the case claims Owen isn’t a suspect. Hannah doesn’t know whom to trust, though, and she and Bailey resolve to root out the clues that might lead to Owen. They must also learn to trust one another. Hannah’s narrative alternates past and present, detailing her early days with Owen alongside her current hunt for him, and author Dave throws in a touch of danger and a few surprises. But what really drives the story is the evolving nature of Hannah and Bailey’s relationship, which is by turns poignant and frustrating but always realistic.

Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7134-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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