Darkly essential reading for every genre fan who’s ever considered sending a swab to a mail-order DNA testing service.

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FAIR WARNING

A first-rate case for Connelly’s third-string detective, bulldog journalist Jack McEvoy, who’s been biding his time since The Scarecrow (2009) as Harry Bosch and the Lincoln Lawyer have hogged the spotlight.

The consumer-protection website FairWarning can’t hold a candle to the LA Times, where Jack once plied his trade. The real problem this time, though, is that the cops come to Jack rather than vice versa, as a person of interest who had a one-night stand a year ago with Christina Portrero, whose latest one-night stand broke her neck. In fact, Jack quickly discovers, Tina was only the most recent among a number of women who died of atlanto-occipital dislocation—several of them erroneously listed as accidents, all of them clients of the genetic testing firm GT23. Why would sending out your DNA for genetic information put you at enormously increased risk of falling victim to a brutal killer who calls himself the Shrike? The answer to the question of how “predators now can custom-order their victims,” which lies in the DRD4 gene, is guaranteed to make even the most hard-bitten readers queasy. Throughout his pursuit of the killer, the LAPD’s pursuit of him, and his unwilling partnerships with fellow journalist Emily Atwater and former FBI agent Rachel Walling, Jack works the case with a dogged professionalism, a mastery of detail, and a scarred but oversized heart that puts most of his police procedural cousins to shame.

Darkly essential reading for every genre fan who’s ever considered sending a swab to a mail-order DNA testing service.

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-31653-942-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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Hits the marks for spooky thrills and mysterious chills.

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BOOK OF NIGHT

A former thief who specialized in stealing magical documents is forced back into her old habits in Black's adult debut.

Charlie Hall used to work as a thief, stealing for and from magicians—or rather, “gloamists.” In this world, gloamists are people with magical shadows that are alive, gaining strength from the gloamists' own blood. A gloamist can learn to manipulate the magic of their shadow, doing everything from changing how it looks to using it to steal, possess a person, or even murder. Gloamists hire nonmagical people like Charlie to steal precious and rare magical documents written by their kind throughout history and detailing their research and experiments in shadow magic. Gloamists can use onyx to keep each other from sending shadows to steal these treasures, but onyx won't stop regular humans from old-fashioned breaking and entering. After Charlie’s talent for crime gets her into too much trouble, she swears off her old career and tries to settle down with her sensible boyfriend, Vince—but when she finds a dead man in an alley and notices that even his shadow has been ripped to pieces, she can’t help trying to figure out who he was and why he met such a gruesome end. Before she knows it, Charlie is forced back into a life of lies and danger, using her skills as a thief to find a book that could unleash the full and terrifying power of the shadow world. Black is a veteran fantasy writer, which shows in the opening pages as she neatly and easily guides the reader through the engrossing world of gloamists, magical shadows, and Charlie’s brand of criminality. There's a lot of flipping back and forth between the past and the present, and though both timelines are well plotted and suspenseful, the story leans a touch too hard on the flashbacks. Still, the mystery elements are well executed, as is Charlie’s characterization, and the big twist at the end packs a satisfying punch.

Hits the marks for spooky thrills and mysterious chills.

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-81219-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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A superficially gripping but psychologically unconvincing thriller.

SLEEPLESS

In present-day Germany, a woman burdened with the darkest of secrets from her brutal childhood becomes an unwitting participant in a fatal game of murder and deceit.

“You become normal by doing normal things,” Nadja Kulka’s therapist tells her, and for the most part the technique has worked. Nadja has a good job in the office of one of Berlin’s most successful lawyers and a secure if barren personal life. “I’m the woman who sits at the open window of her kitchen when she sees that her neighbour has friends over again on a Saturday night,” she explains. Social gatherings cause Nadja acute anxiety, and when the novel opens, she is in the grip of a panic attack that causes her to faint at a gas station and then to flee back onto the motorway, fearing that onlookers may have called the police. But why? And why is she wearing a blond wig? In this feverish, relentlessly tense novel, the answers to those and many other questions lie tangentially in Nadja’s past—to which the narrative cyclically returns—but more immediately in a sudden act of violence into which she is cruelly drawn. As dastardly events unfold, we are kept on edge not only by the author’s initially skillful evocation of Nadja’s troubled consciousness, but also by the novel’s restless shuttling between past and present. The eventual cinching together of near and distant events is clumsily handled, however, and the denouement utterly overwrought. A parallel plot involves the yearnings of a young woman who longs to escape her hometown backwater, embarks on an affair with a married visitor to her family’s inn, and pays a terrible price for her longings. Rather than enriching the novel, however, this drama, though potentially engrossing, seems more like a distraction.

A superficially gripping but psychologically unconvincing thriller.

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-82479-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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