Feeney improves on her debut with a taut suspense plot, many gleeful twists and turns, and suspects galore.

HIS & HERS

A news presenter and a police detective are brought together by murders in the British village where they both grew up.

There is precious little that can be revealed about the plot of Feeney’s third novel without spoilers, as the author has woven surprises and plot twists and suspicious linkages into nearly every one of her brief, first-person chapters, written in three alternating narrative voices. “Hers” is Anna Andrews, a wannabe anchor on a BBC news program whose lucky break comes when the body of one of her school friends is found brutally murdered in their hometown, a woodsy little spot called Blackdown. “His” is DCI Jack Harper, head of the Major Crime Team in Blackdown, where major crimes were rather few until now. The third is unnamed but clearly the killer’s. Happily, none of the three is an unreliable narrator—good thing because plenty of people are sick of that—but none is exactly 100% forthcoming either. Which only makes sense, because you can't have reveals without secrets. In a small town like Blackdown, everybody knows everybody, so it’s not too surprising that Anna and Jack have a tragic past or that each has connections to all the victims and suspects while not being totally free from suspicion themselves. Who is that sneaky third narrator? On the way to figuring that out, expect high school mean girls, teen lesbian action, mutilated corpses, nasty things happening to kittens, and—as seems de rigueur in British thrillers—plenty of drinking and wisecracks, sometimes in tandem. “Sadly, my sister has the same taste in wine as she does in men; too cheap, too young, and headache-inducing.”

Feeney improves on her debut with a taut suspense plot, many gleeful twists and turns, and suspects galore.

Pub Date: July 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26608-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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Hits the marks for spooky thrills and mysterious chills.

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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Well-done crime fiction. Baldacci nails the noir.

DREAM TOWN

An old-fashioned gumshoe yarn about Hollywood dreams and dead bodies.

Private investigator Aloysius Archer celebrates New Year’s Eve 1952 in LA with his gorgeous lady friend and aspiring actress Liberty Callahan. Screenwriter Eleanor Lamb shows up and offers to hire him because “someone might be trying to kill me.” “I’m fifty a day plus expenses,” he replies, but money’s no obstacle. Later, he sneaks into Lamb’s house and stumbles upon a body, then gets knocked out by an unseen assailant. Archer takes plenty of physical abuse in the story, but at least he doesn’t get a bullet between the eyes like the guy he trips over. A 30-year-old World War II combat veteran, Archer is a righteous and brave hero. Luck and grit keep him alive in both Vegas and the City of Angels, which is rife with gangsters and crooked cops. Not rich at all, his one luxury is the blood-red 1939 Delahaye he likes to drive with the top down. He’d bought it with his gambling winnings in Reno, and only a bullet hole in the windscreen post mars its perfection. Liberty loves Archer, but will she put up with the daily danger of losing him? Why doesn’t he get a safe job, maybe playing one of LA’s finest on the hit TV show Dragnet? Instead, he’s a tough and principled idealist who wants to make the world a better place. Either that or he’s simply a “pavement-pounding PI on a slow dance to maybe nowhere.” And if some goon doesn’t do him in sooner, his Lucky Strikes will probably do him in later. Baldacci paints a vivid picture of the not-so-distant era when everybody smoked, Joe McCarthy hunted commies, and Marilyn Monroe stirred men’s loins. The 1950s weren’t the fabled good old days, but they’re fodder for gritty crime stories of high ideals and lowlifes, of longing and disappointment, and all the trouble a PI can handle.

Well-done crime fiction. Baldacci nails the noir.

Pub Date: April 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5387-1977-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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