Steadily absorbing revelations of all manner of malfeasance, beautifully handled, even if the final twist is less than the...

BLOODY GENIUS

Virgil Flowers’ 12th appearance takes him into the homicidal heart of the University of Minnesota.

When a professor’s as brainy and wealthy as Barthelemy Quill, a nerve specialist who drives a BMW, you have to make some allowances for him. That’s presumably why his unnamed female companion agrees to let him sneak her into his personal carrel at midnight, hours after the university library has closed. But neither of them is prepared to find the dark carrel already occupied by another anonymous figure who, far from making allowances, reacts to Quill’s sputtering outrage by bashing him to death with his state-of-the-art laptop and running off with the murder weapon. Pressed by Quill’s equally rich sister to get faster results than Sgt. Margaret Trane of the Minneapolis PD has come up with, the governor gets the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to send Virgil (Holy Ghost, 2018, etc.) to help out. Trane doesn’t want his help, but she’s won over by his determination to avoid taking the credit for any new leads and his success in finding a lead almost immediately: a hair on the yoga mat in Quill’s carrel that didn’t come from anybody’s head. Spurred on by the discovery, Trane comes up with a lead of her own: a hidden recording in which three men, one of them probably Quill, discuss a highly questionable medical procedure. Now, instead of too few leads, there are too many. Was Quill murdered by Ruth McDonald, whose quadriplegic husband killed himself after just such a procedure? By Quill’s own estranged third wife, in search of a bigger payoff than her prenup allowed? By professor Katherine Green, whose Cultural Science approach to medications he’d claimed had given fuel to rabid anti-vaxxers? By Boyd Nash, a sociopathic patent troll who’s made a specialty of taking credit for other people’s discoveries and accepting payoffs to go away quietly? Or by another suspect for still another reason Virgil and Trane can’t yet imagine?

Steadily absorbing revelations of all manner of malfeasance, beautifully handled, even if the final twist is less than the best.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53661-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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Fans of smart horror will sink their teeth into this one.

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THE SOUTHERN BOOK CLUB'S GUIDE TO SLAYING VAMPIRES

Things are about to get bloody for a group of Charleston housewives.

In 1988, the scariest thing in former nurse Patricia Campbell’s life is showing up to book club, since she hasn’t read the book. It’s hard to get any reading done between raising two kids, Blue and Korey, picking up after her husband, Carter, a psychiatrist, and taking care of her live-in mother-in-law, Miss Mary, who seems to have dementia. It doesn’t help that the books chosen by the Literary Guild of Mt. Pleasant are just plain boring. But when fellow book-club member Kitty gives Patricia a gloriously trashy true-crime novel, Patricia is instantly hooked, and soon she’s attending a very different kind of book club with Kitty and her friends Grace, Slick, and Maryellen. She has a full plate at home, but Patricia values her new friendships and still longs for a bit of excitement. When James Harris moves in down the street, the women are intrigued. Who is this handsome night owl, and why does Miss Mary insist that she knows him? A series of horrific events stretches Patricia’s nerves and her Southern civility to the breaking point. (A skin-crawling scene involving a horde of rats is a standout.) She just knows James is up to no good, but getting anyone to believe her is a Sisyphean feat. After all, she’s just a housewife. Hendrix juxtaposes the hypnotic mundanity of suburbia (which has a few dark underpinnings of its own) against an insidious evil that has taken root in Patricia’s insular neighborhood. It’s gratifying to see her grow from someone who apologizes for apologizing to a fiercely brave woman determined to do the right thing—hopefully with the help of her friends. Hendrix (We Sold Our Souls, 2018, etc.) cleverly sprinkles in nods to well-established vampire lore, and the fact that he’s a master at conjuring heady 1990s nostalgia is just the icing on what is his best book yet.

Fans of smart horror will sink their teeth into this one.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68369-143-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 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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