Lucid, tight, and compelling. It’s Lippman’s gift to show the Good Ronnie and Bad Ronnie in every one of her characters,...

EVERY SECRET THING

The creator of Tess Monaghan (The Last Place, 2002, etc.) crosses over in a chilling study of mothers, daughters, love, and murder.

It sure wasn’t what her wealthy parents had in mind when they sent her to study art in Baltimore, but Helen Manning thought single motherhood would be a kick. Too bad her job as an art teacher hadn’t paid enough to buy a pool membership, forcing 11-year-old Alice to spend summers playing with public-school kids like Ronnie Fuller. Some days Ronnie was Good Ronnie, some days she was Bad Ronnie. One day, when they got sent home early from a pool party for misbehaving, Ronnie and Alice found Olivia Barnes, left asleep in her carriage on the porch by a careless babysitter. Now that they’ve been released, seven years later, by the juvenile-justice system for their unthinkable part in her murder, Olivia’s mother, Cynthia Barnes, breaks her part of the plea bargain arranged by Sharon Kerpelman, Alice’s public defender, stipulating that the names of the accused minors would never become public. Cynthia, daughter of one of Baltimore’s most revered black judges, feels she has to protect her new baby Rosalind, conceived even as she mourned Olivia’s loss. So when three-year-old Brittany Little disappears from Value City while her less-than-swift mother Maveen turns her back “for just a minute,” Cynthia calls not only county detective Nancy Porter, but ambitious Beacon-Light reporter Mira Jenkins, who’s dying to get back downtown after being rusticated for failing to check a story that was an obvious hoax. Hunted by press and police alike, Alice and Ronnie cross paths once more in a struggle to keep secret what just may turn deadly.

Lucid, tight, and compelling. It’s Lippman’s gift to show the Good Ronnie and Bad Ronnie in every one of her characters, leaving no one unscathed and no one unredeemed.

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-050667-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2003

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Too much drama at the end detracts from a finely wrought and subtle conundrum.

THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10

Ware (In A Dark, Dark Wood, 2015) offers up a classic “paranoid woman” story with a modern twist in this tense, claustrophobic mystery.

Days before departing on a luxury cruise for work, travel journalist Lo Blacklock is the victim of a break-in. Though unharmed, she ends up locked in her own room for several hours before escaping; as a result, she is unable to sleep. By the time she comes onboard the Aurora, Lo is suffering from severe sleep deprivation and possibly even PTSD, so when she hears a big splash from the cabin next door in the middle of the night, “the kind of splash made by a body hitting water,” she can’t prove to security that anything violent has actually occurred. To make matters stranger, there's no record of any passenger traveling in the cabin next to Lo’s, even though Lo herself saw a woman there and even borrowed makeup from her before the first night’s dinner party. Reeling from her own trauma, and faced with proof that she may have been hallucinating, Lo continues to investigate, aided by her ex-boyfriend Ben (who's also writing about the cruise), fighting desperately to find any shred of evidence that she may be right. The cast of characters, their conversations, and the luxurious but confining setting all echo classic Agatha Christie; in fact, the structure of the mystery itself is an old one: a woman insists murder has occurred, everyone else says she’s crazy. But Lo is no wallflower; she is a strong and determined modern heroine who refuses to doubt the evidence of her own instincts. Despite this successful formula, and a whole lot of slowly unraveling tension, the end is somehow unsatisfying. And the newspaper and social media inserts add little depth.

Too much drama at the end detracts from a finely wrought and subtle conundrum.

Pub Date: July 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-3293-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scout Press/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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Greed, love, and extrasensory abilities combine in two middling mysteries.

LABYRINTH

Coulter’s treasured FBI agents take on two cases marked by danger and personal involvement.

Dillon Savitch and his wife, Lacey Sherlock, have special abilities that have served them well in law enforcement (Paradox, 2018, etc.). But that doesn't prevent Sherlock’s car from hitting a running man after having been struck by a speeding SUV that runs a red light. The runner, though clearly injured, continues on his way and disappears. Not so the SUV driver, a security engineer for the Bexholt Group, which has ties to government agencies. Sherlock’s own concussion causes memory loss so severe that she doesn’t recognize Savitch or remember their son, Sean. The whole incident seems more suspicious when a blood test from the splatter of the man Sherlock hit reveals that he’s Justice Cummings, an analyst for the CIA. The agency’s refusal to cooperate makes Savitch certain that Bexholt is involved in a deep-laid plot. Meanwhile, Special Agent Griffin Hammersmith is visiting friends who run a cafe in the touristy Virginia town of Gaffers Ridge. Hammersmith, who has psychic abilities, is taken aback when he hears in his mind a woman’s cry for help. Reporter Carson DeSilva, who came to the area to interview a Nobel Prize winner, also has psychic abilities, and she overhears the thoughts of Rafer Bodine, a young man who has apparently kidnapped and possibly murdered three teenage girls. Unluckily, she blurts out her thoughts, and she’s snatched and tied up in a cellar by Bodine. Bodine may be a killer, but he’s also the nephew of the sheriff and the son of the local bigwig. So the sheriff arrests Hammersmith and refuses to accept his FBI credentials. Bodine's mother has psychic powers strong enough to kill, but she meets her match in Hammersmith, DeSilva, Savitch, and Sherlock.

Greed, love, and extrasensory abilities combine in two middling mysteries.

Pub Date: July 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-9365-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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