RaveThe New York Journal of Books... reads like memoir. So real is the illusion that the words are from a real-life narrator that readers may find themselves googling the names of coffee shops and people who appear in the novel ... Part of what makes The Final Case sublime is how quiet it is ... This is a literary novel, the plot more deeply hidden than genre fiction. Rather than action upon action leading to a climax, we are taken on a journey of exploration and discovery into the meaning of justice, the nature of familial responsibilities, and the dynamic between fathers and sons ... Ultimately, The Final Case is a thorough investigation into what makes the two main characters tick while providing readers truth about the human condition in that satisfying way only great fiction can do.
RaveNew York Journal of BooksPart of what makes Unger such a terrific storyteller is her ability to put characters in danger physically, emotionally, and psychologically. She is also adept at playing with time and character points of view in ways that build suspense. In the hands of a lesser writer, jumps in time and character points of view can jar or confuse the reader, but Unger’s skillful layering of the past and the present alongside the viewpoints of different characters only makes the tension on the page that much greater ... yet another spine-tingling, whirlwind of a journey for the characters and the reader. No one does psychological thrillers better than Lisa Unger.
Ben H. Winters
RaveNew York Journal of BooksThe unconventional story structure is as intriguing as the concepts woven into the work. Ben H. Winters’ rich writing style and haunting storytelling will suit those who love novels that are hard to define and leave readers without a clear decisive finish, stories that speak to our deepest fears about the meaning of life and the nature of existence itself.
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksMangan’s careful study of the incredible toll an artistic life can take, mingles with the challenge of being mentally unwell ... With atmospheric writing and a literary bent, Palace of the Drowned is as much an exploration of the use of language and a study of the artistic experience, as it is a revelation of plot. Events do link, one to the next, but the way in which Mangan puts words together is as important as the story arc ... rich and suspenseful.
PositiveThe New York Journal of Books... a twisted story of judgement and revenge ... Skipping around from character to character, Palahniuk creates not so much a third-person multiple narrative, or an omnisciently told tale, as a mosaic of story, with each voice connected through a common thread of anger, despair, and a deep-seated need to know how the worst parts of their lives came to pass ... The surreal nature of Palahniuk’s world takes the reader along for a distorted journey, where the guides feel unreliable and the sickening nature of events preys on the imagination like driving past a car crash. Not wanting to look, yet unable to look away, Palahniuk invites us to perform a fictional re-enactment of the very crimes he accuses Hollywood of perpetrating ... Like trying to stay upright in quicksand, Palahniuk keeps his readers guessing as to how the threads will come together at the end. While certain elements appear obvious—even from the beginning—nothing can be taken for granted ... Deft with prose, inventive with structure, and gruesome in his delivery, Palahniuk’s latest will no doubt test some readers’ stomachs, while simultaneously guaranteeing him a brand-new batch of faithful followers.
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksIn the signature style of many novels of psychological suspense, Alice Feeney uses multiple point-of-view characters to heighten the drama of her latest release ... Feeney presents a tangled web of backstory, reversals, and reveals as the twisted story comes to light ... As the backstory becomes the present, readers discover more and more ways in which all the characters are connected and why no one is exempt from suspicion ... Filled with exquisitely flawed characters and tight, dynamic prose, His & Hers by Alice Feeney may be another New York Times and international bestseller.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksThe complex multiple point of view characters are tied together through themes and intersecting timelines ... This is an unexpected novel, full of philosophical questions about how we become who we are, what it takes to become someone else, and how much power others hold over even our own understandings of self. Mother Daughter Widow Wife is not an easy read, but it’s a compelling one.
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksThe public and the personal intertwine in this meticulously detailed novel to tell the bigger story ... Told with the voice of a literary master at the top of her craft, the pace may be too slow for thriller readers, but for those who love a strong literary voice in their genre fiction or the voice of a crime writer in their literary fiction, this novel is a home run.
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksHand beautifully captures the era in this historical novel alongside the landscape of Chicago and its neighborhoods and slums ... She also captures the remarkable world of the amusement park, from the rides and the midway to the sideshow freaks ... The world Hand creates is more than just a backdrop for a crime. The locations act as a character ... One of Hand’s remarkable abilities is the deftness with which she creates dynamic and unique voices for each point-of-view character, helping the reader track multiple storylines throughout a complex tale ... Despite its historical setting, Pin’s contemplations about gender identity, the inclusion of racial tensions, and questions regarding police behavior, place the story squarely in a modern context ... Regardless of connections to the present, Hand presents us with a detailed and complex representation of the challenges for impoverished and psychologically fragile individuals in 1915 America ... Equally important, in the midst of it all, Hand fashions a darn good mystery.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksTold with gorgeous prose, the strongest aspect of Kwok’s storytelling is the revelation of how differently these characters see themselves versus how they are seen by the world ... Kwon wraps up the mystery of Sylvie’s disappearance at the end, but the discovery of how these characters change throughout the novel may be the more important journey.
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksThroughout the puzzle of the girls’ disappearance, Phillips tackles complicated cultural questions, which resonate in any country, not just this tiny part of Russia ... Phillips lived on the Kamchatka Peninsula for two years, and her love for the land shines through her characters’ relationships with the places they inhabit ... Phillips’ novel invites us to step into this community and the lives of these characters as if we were visitors to a foreign land. As our guide, she shows us where to look, but leaves it up to us to decide what’s important to remember from our visit after we return home.
RaveNew York Journal of BooksThe Better Sister exhibits characteristics of domestic noir, thriller, and suspense all layered on top a good, old-fashioned whodunit ... as with all good tales of domestic suspense, nothing is what it appears on the surface ... Regardless of whose head we’re in, Burke’s dynamic voice and page-turning storytelling compels the reader forward to find out where all the various threads will lead ... In addition to the powerful characteristics of a thriller, The Better Sister is also a psychological investigation of social media, gender in business, childrearing, and family ties ... a compelling thriller.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksThe Last Breath continues Danny Lopez’s Dexter Vega Mystery series with the follow up to his debut novel, The Last Girl. Bob Fleming hires out-of-work reporter Dexter Vega to look into the death of his son, Liam. Liam drowned while kayaking the calm waters of the Intracoastal Waterway. The circumstances of his death are suspicious, as he’s a young, athletic man, an excellent swimmer, and an experienced kayaker ... Lopez also leans toward simple prose ... While The Last Breath is the second in a series, it can be read as a standalone. Lopez includes enough information to link to the earlier novel, without making new readers feel left out ... Fans of a low-key, amateur sleuth mystery may want to give The Last Breath a try.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksIn Her Bones challenges readers to consider the family members of the accused as collateral damage worthy of our compassion ... Moretti’s choice to write chapters from Brandt’s point of view gives readers more information than any one character can possess ... we are also at a remove, viewing the larger picture like a film director ... While fundamentally a novel of suspense, Edie’s internal musings about the world around her lean toward the poetic ... The heightened language takes In Her Bones to a higher level than the standard thriller. Readers will enjoy this book for the suspense and plot twists, but love it for the skill and mastery Moretti has for her craft.