A historical episode artfully adapted in a bleak tale that offers glimmers of hope for women discarded by society.

DANGEROUS WOMEN

Alas for the hopes of an ardent young reformer aboard a shipful of women convicts when one of them is attacked.

In April 1841, the Rajah leaves London for Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania). Onboard are nearly 200 women convicted of petty crimes and sentenced to transportation to the other side of the world. With them are Capt. Charles Ferguson, master of the Rajah; a pious but stern clergyman; the jovial ship’s doctor; and the 23-year-old matron of the prisoners, idealistic Kezia Hayter. She hopes to build a community among the women by choosing 18 of them to assemble a quilt to present to their new home’s governor when they arrive. In a series of temporal jumps to and from the past, the near past, and the present of 1841, Kezia’s life and the lives of the convicts—some of whom have known nothing but poverty and degradation, some grieving for the families they had to leave behind, a few who were allowed to bring their children with them—are stitched together. When Hattie Matthews is stabbed, Kezia helps the captain, the parson, and the doctor interview the seven witnesses to the event. Some of them recall Hattie’s fear that she was being watched, others the swatch of fabric in which was embroidered a warning for Hattie to keep silent. What none of the investigators know is that one of the convicts is an imposter who stole the identity of another prisoner in a desperate attempt to escape the gallows. Her fear that someone onboard may recognize her makes her the obvious suspect in what might well yet be a murder—and forces her to turn to the one person who could be her undoing.

A historical episode artfully adapted in a bleak tale that offers glimmers of hope for women discarded by society.

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-09957-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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THE SANATORIUM

A hotel built on the grounds of a sanatorium has more dead bodies than paying guests.

A police detective on sabbatical after flubbing a case, Elin Warner travels with her boyfriend, Will, to Le Sommet, a remote, glass-walled, five-star hotel in the Swiss Alps, at the invitation of her estranged brother, Isaac. Isaac is throwing a party to celebrate his engagement to Laure, assistant manager at the hotel, which has been the focus of local controversy due to its shadowy history. Elin's creepy feelings about the trip are quickly confirmed as a storm cuts off access to the mountain, a receptionist is kidnapped, a dead body is found in the snow, and Laure disappears. As overloaded, grisly, and ultimately silly as Pearse's locked-room debut may be, the biggest mystery is how Elin ever made it out of the police academy. As she slowly reasons her way through the unfolding situation, her deductions of even the most obvious points appear in italics—"That means Laure has another phone." "This…it isn't an accident. She's been killed. This is murder"—as do what seem to be the protagonist’s questions to herself about how to move things along. "So where could they have gone?" "So what are my next steps going to be?" "She examines the glass balustrade in front of her. Can I get over it?" What Elin can't get over is a tragedy in her childhood for which she holds her brother responsible; it comes up every few pages until being resolved with a not-too-believable twist that may or may not be retwisted in a mystifying epilogue. Fortunately for Elin, she does have a few insider tricks up her sleeve. "She knows that there is an app called Find My iPhone...it would show the last location where it had a signal." Wait. Why are you laughing? This is a thriller!

Oh, dear.

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-59-329667-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: today

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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Not for the squeamish but a jolt for thriller junkies.

RELENTLESS

The 10th installment in the Gray Man series begins with a dent in the hero’s armor and revs up with nonstop action.

Court Gentry, aka the Gray Man, is recovering from a stab wound, and he really needs to get some rest. He’s tired and badly weakened, not yet fit for operational duty, but the CIA’s off-the-books contract killer is “wholly unaccustomed to free time.” Soon he’s in Caracas, trying to spring his comrade in arms Zack Hightower from a Venezuelan prison. Then he’s off to Germany to deal with a possible coordinated attack on Americans in Berlin. Gentry, whose CIA code name is Violator, is that rare killer with a heart, so he takes only “righteous and worthy” assignments and does them right. His CIA boss congratulates him on one assassination, saying “You put a warhead on his forehead.” Gentry’s in love with Zoya Zakharova, a field operative also working for the CIA, but gunning down bad guys keeps both too busy for a meaningful relationship. Meanwhile, a sultan in the United Arab Emirates can hardly wait for his father to die of cancer, and an Iranian Quds sleeper agent plots mayhem in Berlin. Evildoers abound in this bloody thriller, including Americans. But the star of the scum is Maksim Akulov, who works for the Russian Mafia and whose target is Zakharova. Think of Akulov as the Gray Man without the moral compass. The title aptly fits the plot, as the hero scarcely takes a breather. There’s enough bloodshed to pour into two thrillers, and author Greaney doesn’t spare the good guys. Gentry’s body is “racked with pain and exhaustion” much of the time, but he is relentless. And Zack gets more than scratched while he thinks that “fighting a robot attack would be one badass way to go.”

Not for the squeamish but a jolt for thriller junkies.

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-09895-0

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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