This is one hellacious ride for crime fiction fans.

THE RUNAWAY

Ex-Marine Peter Ash defends a pregnant teenager from her murderous husband in this heart-thumping thriller.

Nineteen-year-old Helene is desperate to escape Coldwater, Montana, population 2, “the crossroads of no place and nowhere.” Her mom died in a car accident, and now she’s alone except for the sleazy Bogaloosa, who “smells like fermented armpit,” underpays her at Bogaloosa’s Gas and Grocery, and wants to have sex with her. So she cadges a ride from a long-haul trucker named Roy Wiley, who lavishes gifts on her. Sure, he’s given rides to other girls, but Helene is something special. Roy is special too, and not in a good way. He and his partner, Frank, rob “wealthy jerks who live somewhere else” across several Western states. Helena is pulled into Roy’s orbit and finds that she can’t leave, because he’s a murderer who is obsessed with her. She feigns love, and they marry in Nevada. But Roy is one seriously scary dude who kills for pleasure—sometimes sexual pleasure. She escapes, but her car breaks down. “Vastly pregnant,” she asks a passing motorist, series hero Peter Ash, for a ride. Ash is an ex-Marine plagued by “white static” in his brain, compliments of his combat days in Iraq and Afghanistan. Roy and several cohorts are chasing them both. Ash risks everything to protect this total stranger, and a hair-raising pursuit follows. Readers might guess the story’s outcome, but the trip is violent and downright frightening fun. And they will admire Helene, who will do anything to protect herself and the baby in her belly. She believes that “fortune favors the bold.” Roy is obsessed with her and the mistaken thought that she’s having twins, but if he ever finds out the truth, she’s dead. The monster is a bottomless wellspring of shootings and neck snappings, and the story’s survivors tie up the plot in a neat bow.

This is one hellacious ride for crime fiction fans.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-525-53550-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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Perhaps A-list screenwriters will be able to spin TV gold from this sketchy treatment.

THE LIONESS

An actress and her entourage are kidnapped by Russians in Bohjalian’s uneven thriller.

In 1964, Hollywood’s gossip rags are agog as movie star Katie Barstow marries gallerist David Hill and takes her inner circle along on her honeymoon. And an adventuresome honeymoon it is—on safari in the Serengeti with aging big-game hunter Charlie Patton, who once helped Hemingway bag trophies. But Katie is not the star of this ensemble piece. The populous cast—a who’s who at the beginning is indispensable—includes Katie’s publicist, Reggie Stout; her agent, Peter Merrick; her best friend, Carmen Tedesco, a supporting actress who plays wisecracking sidekicks; and Terrance Dutton, Katie's recent co-star, a Black actor who's challenging Sidney Poitier's singularity in Hollywood. With obvious nods to Hemingway’s worst fear—masculine cowardice—Bohjalian adds in Felix Demeter, Carmen’s husband, a B-list screenwriter who reminds his wife of Hemingway’s weakling Francis Macomber. Felix seems a superfluous double of David, who feels inadequate because Katie is the breadwinner and his father is CIA. Then there’s Katie’s older brother, Billy Stepanov, whose abuse at the hands of their mother shaped the psychologist he is today; Billy’s pregnant wife, Margie; and Benjamin Kikwete, an apprentice safari guide. Thus, a proliferation of voices whose competing perspectives fragment rather than advance the story. The kidnapping plot seems less designed to test each character’s mettle than to exercise Bohjalian’s predilection for minute descriptions of gore. The most heartfelt portrayal here is of the Serengeti and its flora and fauna, but none of the human characters net enough face time to transcend their typecasting. The motives behind the kidnapping might have lent intrigue to the proceedings, but foreshadowing is so slight that the infodump explainer at the end leaves us shocked, mostly at how haphazard the plot is.

Perhaps A-list screenwriters will be able to spin TV gold from this sketchy treatment.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-385-54482-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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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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