A wickedly sharp first novel from an author to watch.

PRECIOUS YOU

A Gen X magazine editor-in-chief and her new millennial intern play an escalating game of cat and mouse in former journalist Monks Takhar’s debut psychological thriller.

At 41, London magazine editor Katherine Ross already feels like a walking cliché. She and her longtime partner Iain, a failed screenwriter, used to be the cool kids, complete with an open relationship and a cavalier attitude to drugs and drink. Now Katherine feels old and out of touch, reaching for a life that seems to have gotten away from her. After 20 years with her magazine, Leadership, and a bout of depression that caused a blip in her upward trajectory (and seems to be trying to take her over again), she’s trying to get back into the swing of things. Enter Lily Lunt, a beautiful, vibrant, and privileged 24-year-old upstart who seems to have weaseled her way into an internship via her aunt Gemma—who recently bought Leadership. Lily is everything Katherine used to be: “I couldn’t take my eyes off you. You were like looking into a mirror, or more like a window into a different time in my life, not long past, but just out of reach.” The lonely Katherine’s desire for mutual understanding, maybe even friendship, with Lily is clouded by instinctive mistrust. Katherine soon recognizes that Lily’s wide-eyed innocence is a mask, but what is she hiding? Lily wastes no time sidelining and embarrassing Katherine at Leadership, and before Katherine knows it, Lily has also wormed her way into Katherine’s personal life, including, to her horror, her relationship with Iain. Katherine and Lily’s tense and twisted push and pull unfolds through sinuous, overlapping first-person narratives—addressed to each other—that the author carefully shapes to highlight the characters' often divergent takes on shared events. Monks Takhar tackles workplace dynamics, aging, feminism, mental illness, and the hotly debated generation gap, all within the framework of a tightly plotted revenge thriller that reads a bit like a less soapy 21st-century Single White Female. Readers won’t be able to tear their eyes away as this runaway train inevitably derails.

A wickedly sharp first novel from an author to watch.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984855-96-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 42

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

The characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once...

DELIVER US FROM EVIL

In Baldacci’s 19th (True Blue, 2009, etc.), boy and girl monster-hunters meet cute.

Evan Waller, aka Fadir Kuchin, aka “the Butcher of Kiev,” aka “the Ukrainian psychopath,” is one of those deep-dyed villains a certain kind of fiction can’t do without. Serving with distinction as part of the Soviet Union’s KGB, he joyfully and indiscriminately killed thousands. Now, many years later, posing as a successful businessman, he’s vacationing in Provence where, unbeknownst to him, two separate clandestine operations are being mounted by people who do not regard him with favor. Reggie Campion—28 and gorgeous—spearheads the first, an ad hoc group of monster-hunting vigilantes. Studly, tall Shaw (no first name supplied) is point guard for a rival team, shadowy enough to leave the matter of its origin ambiguous. While their respective teams reconnoiter and jockey for position, studly boy meets gorgeous girl. Monster-hunters are famous for having trust issues, but clearly these are drawn to each other in the time-honored Hollywood fashion. Shaw saves Reggie’s life. She returns the favor. The attraction deepens and heats up to the point where team-members on both sides grow unsettled by the loss of focus, singularly inopportune since, as monsters go, Waller rises to the second coming of Caligula—ample testimony furnished by a six-page, unsparingly detailed torture scene. In the end, the stalkers strike, bullets fly, screams curdle the blood, love has its innings and a monster does what a monster’s got to do.

The characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once again show the stuff it’s made of.

Pub Date: April 20, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-446-56408-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Avon A/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2010

Did you like this book?

more