The husband-and-wife team writing as Kepler piles on the atmosphere, shocks, and details that are just as unsparing...

THE HYPNOTIST

You know you’ve arrived in the empyrean of Nordic noir when a multigenerational crimefest first translated into English in 2011 gets “a thrilling new translation” only seven years later.

Incredible but true: Whoever stabbed high school science teacher Anders Ek to death and began to dismember his body then turned to his wife and daughter and slaughtered them as well. The only survivors were Evelyn Ek, who was off at the university studying political science, and her teenage brother, Josef, who’s clinging to life after his own savage attack. Convinced that “someone wanted to wipe out an entire family, and probably thinks he’s succeeded,” Detective Joona Linna, of the National Crime Police, can think of nothing but finding and protecting Evelyn from the killer. To that end, he’s willing to take extreme measures. Unable to question the comatose Josef about his memories of the carnage, he asks trauma specialist Dr. Erik Maria Bark to put Josef into a hypnotic trance that will relax him enough to respond to a few questions. Although Erik hasn’t hypnotized anyone for 10 years, he eventually yields to Joona’s pressure, and all hell breaks loose, beginning with the fact that Josef’s testimony seems to implicate no one more damningly than himself. The fallout gives Erik as compelling a motive as Joona (The Sandman, 2018, etc.) for getting to the bottom of the mystery even as it cuts the ground out from under his feet, and a long, jagged flashback to the last time Erik hypnotized anyone hints that the current murder spree is only the tip of a very frigid iceberg.

The husband-and-wife team writing as Kepler piles on the atmosphere, shocks, and details that are just as unsparing psychologically as they are physically. The result is some memorably over-the-top plotting and a guarantee of sleepless nights that will only begin with the night you stay up reading.

Pub Date: July 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-43312-5

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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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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