An insightful look at our morbid curiosity about murderers.

ALL THESE BODIES

A “nobody from nowhere” gets the scoop of a lifetime.

A paperboy and aspiring journalist in 1959 Black Deer Falls, Minnesota, 17-year-old Michael Jensen’s heard about the previous summer’s killings known as the Bloodless Murders or Dracula Murders. The body count so far is 12 blood-drained corpses found across the Midwest. Then blood-drenched 15-year-old Marie Catherine Hale is discovered at the scene of the Carlson triple homicide in Michael’s hometown. Ultimately unknowable Marie—cast as something of a femme fatale in contrast to Michael’s bland, Everyman foil—doesn’t deny her involvement but won’t identify her much-mythologized accomplice. Infuriating an ambitious district attorney, the police, and national news reporters, Marie chooses to tell her slippery, shifting, and allegedly supernatural story solely to Michael. More of a sympathetic confessor than a callous interrogator, Michael works to tease out Marie’s motives even as his community and the world question his entanglement with the case. Although she inserts a supernatural element, Blake otherwise grounds the true-crime–style tale—which acknowledges the influence of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood—in real-life issues like domestic abuse, poverty, privilege, and sexism. Paradoxically, even as the book scrutinizes the darker human appetite for serial killers, criminal escapades, and vengeance, it caters to these same urges. The enigmatic ending might leave readers without resolution, but like Marie’s “truths,” the full story may never be known. Main characters read as White by default.

An insightful look at our morbid curiosity about murderers. (map, author’s note) (Thriller. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-297716-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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A crackerjack thriller done in by its own dopey protagonist.

LOCK THE DOORS

A blended family seeks a fresh start in a new home.

Tom’s mother believes that the family may have finally found happiness. After years of dating losers, she’s finally settled down with a nice guy—and that nice guy, Jay, happens to have a daughter, Nia, who is just a little older than Tom. The new family has moved into a nice new house, but Tom can’t shake the feeling that something’s wrong. They discover a strange message written on the wall when they are stripping the old wallpaper, and there’s clear evidence that the previous owners had installed locks on the exteriors of the bedroom doors. Those previous owners happen to live a little farther down the street, and Tom quickly becomes obsessed with their teenage daughter, Amy, and the secrets she’s hiding. This obsession unfortunately becomes a repetitive slog involving many pages of Tom’s brooding and sulking over the same bits of information while everyone tells him to move on. Readers will be on everyone’s side. But then, a blessed breath of fresh air: The perspective shifts to Amy, and readers learn in spectacularly propulsive fashion exactly what she’s hiding. Regret and intrigue blend perfectly as Amy divulges her secrets. Alas, we return to navel-gazing Tom for the book’s final pages, and everything ends with a shrug. Main characters default to White.

A crackerjack thriller done in by its own dopey protagonist. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72823-189-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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This fast-paced thriller will keep readers guessing.

THE FEAR

This perspective-jumping thriller shows you the two sides of fear.

Izzy has had a crush on Justin forever, but in her last year at Rock Bay High, will she be able to finally talk to him, or will the sudden violent death of a classmate put a wrench in the situation? After a meme daring everyone to repost how they are most afraid to die races through the teenage population, a student appears to have been killed exactly in the way she had feared. Izzy must race against time to find the killer, and with no shortage of suspects, everyone is under suspicion: her loner lab partner, Axel; his older cousin, Tristan; and even Justin, who has been acting strange. It becomes clear no one is safe from experiencing fear. This swift-moving slasher adventure proves to be a page-turning mystery. The book is written in the first-person perspective, allowing readers a deeper view into Izzy’s mind; whether she is thinking Axel is innocent or the killer, her stream of thought and persistent questioning give readers clues to help connect the dots before surprising them with clever plot twists at the end. Main characters read as White; there is racial diversity in the supporting cast.

This fast-paced thriller will keep readers guessing. (Thriller. 12-18)

Pub Date: March 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-12501-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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