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

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

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THE SILENT PATIENT

A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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