Lyrical and terse, funny and tragic—a marvelous addition to the McGregor canon.

LEAN FALL STAND

A storm, a stroke, a death—this Antarctic expedition leaves a traumatic aftermath.

Robert “Doc” Wright, a 33-year veteran of Antarctic expeditions, couldn’t have picked a worse time and place to have a stroke. Not only is he at a remote research station in Antarctica—“the nearest humans are about three hundred miles away. And they’re Russian”—he and his two inexperienced teammates are outside, far from shelter, and physically separate from one another when the storm begins. Why? Because one of the researchers wants to take some pictures, and they’ve separated in order to get the right shots: “Without someone in the frame there was no way to capture the scale of this place.” Confused, debilitated, embarrassed to call for help and admit that he’s let such a dangerous situation arise, Doc finds himself ultimately unable to save the life of one of the young researchers for whom he’s responsible. Another writer might have kept us in Antarctica, in the storm, sitting with these slender humans as they shiver and grimace against the enormity of nature. But not McGregor. In previous books like Reservoir 13 (2017) and The Reservoir Tapes (2018), McGregor has shown himself less interested in the immediate participants of tragedy than in the ripples such tragedies sew across the communities in which they transpire. Here, though McGregor relates much of the gripping event in question, he ultimately leaves Antarctica behind, turning his attention to Doc’s wife, Anna, a climate change researcher who has long since tired of her husband’s passion for the Antarctic and the annual absences that come with it. With Robert incapacitated by his stroke, Anna is suddenly thrust into the role of reluctant caregiver, helping him stand up, helping him dress himself, and ultimately trying to help him tell the story—to himself and to her—of what exactly happened down there, in Antarctica, in the blowing snow. Though its ending is only moderately successful (for some readers it may feel a bit too neat), this is nonetheless a quiet, beautiful novel that’s at once deeply sad and wryly funny.

Lyrical and terse, funny and tragic—a marvelous addition to the McGregor canon.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64622-099-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Catapult

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

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THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME

When a devoted husband and father disappears, his wife and daughter set out to find him.

Hannah Hall is deeply in love with her husband of one year, Owen Michaels. She’s also determined to win over his 16-year-old daughter, Bailey, who has made it very clear that she’s not thrilled with her new stepmother. Despite the drama, the family is mostly a happy one. They live in a lovely houseboat in Sausalito; Hannah is a woodturner whose handmade furniture brings in high-dollar clientele; and Owen works for The Shop, a successful tech firm. Their lives are shattered, however, when Hannah receives a note saying “Protect her” and can’t reach Owen by phone. Then there’s the bag full of cash Bailey finds in her school locker and the shocking news that The Shop’s CEO has been taken into custody. Hannah learns that the FBI has been investigating the firm for about a year regarding some hot new software they took to market before it was fully functional, falsifying their financial statements. Hannah refuses to believe her husband is involved in the fraud, and a U.S. marshal assigned to the case claims Owen isn’t a suspect. Hannah doesn’t know whom to trust, though, and she and Bailey resolve to root out the clues that might lead to Owen. They must also learn to trust one another. Hannah’s narrative alternates past and present, detailing her early days with Owen alongside her current hunt for him, and author Dave throws in a touch of danger and a few surprises. But what really drives the story is the evolving nature of Hannah and Bailey’s relationship, which is by turns poignant and frustrating but always realistic.

Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7134-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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