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: Aug. 15, 2022

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Delightfully readable fiction, but the mystery disappoints.

THE IT GIRL

Ten years after having discovered her Oxford roommate’s dead body in front of the fireplace in their room, a young woman struggles with the realization that she may have helped send the wrong man to prison.

Hannah Jones arrives at Oxford hardly believing that she’s been accepted into this haven of learning and wealth. Sharing a picturesque set of rooms with the flamboyant and beautiful April Clarke-Cliveden, she divides her time between rigorous studying and energetic socializing with Emily Lippmana, Ryan Coates, Hugh Bland, and Will de Chastaigne, with whom she shares an attraction even though he's April’s boyfriend. It’s a good life except for the increasingly creepy interactions she has with John Neville, one of the porters. When Hannah finds April dead one night just after she’s seen Neville coming down the stairs from their rooms, it’s her testimony that puts him in jail. Ware divides the novel into alternating “before” and “after” chapters, with the narrative of Hannah’s college experience unfolding parallel to the events of her life nearly a decade later, when she’s married to Will and pregnant with their first child. Then Neville dies in prison and Hannah hears from a reporter who thinks he might actually have been innocent. Hannah begins to wonder herself, and she plunges back into the past to see if she can figure out what really happened that night. As usual with Ware, the novel is well crafted—the setting, characters, and dialogue are all engaging—but it lacks the author's signature sense of urgent and imminent threat. The novel unfolds smoothly, providing a few twists and turns, as the reader might expect, but not really delivering any true suspense. It also lacks the contrast between a luxurious background and the characters’ fears that Ware has often played to great effect. She does offer a deeper dive into the trauma of the survivors than she usually does, but this isn't the breathless page-turner one has come to expect from Ware.

Delightfully readable fiction, but the mystery disappoints.

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-9821-5526-1

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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