PositiveLos Angeles Review of Books... bristles with the dangers women face ... While serial killers dehumanize their victims, and true crime reportage reduces them to before and after photographs, here Pochoda restores their humanity, giving these women identities beyond their relationship to the killer, like a crime fiction Bechdel.
PositiveLos Angeles Review of BooksIn her third novel, Laura McHugh has painted a vivid picture of Shade Tree, Kansas, its small-town wholesomeness ravaged by economic decline and the fallout from the opioid crisis ... The Wolf Wants In is focused less on crime and mysteries than on what is left behind in the wake of crimes and mysteries; the grief and the emotional burdens resulting from unexplained deaths ... Shane’s character is written with a raw and palpable commingling of love and grief, and Sadie’s memories bring him to vivid life on the page ... Although The Wolf Wants In is a crime novel with murder providing the dramatic impetus, its strength lies in its depiction of the stages of the grieving process ... Readers are left with a bittersweet hope for the characters, who have learned how \'to go on living in the face of grief and loss and disappointment, accepting moments of peace and happiness when they came.\'
RaveLos Angeles Review of Books...crime fiction with a sympathetic heart—an emotionally layered story of murder, secrets, betrayal, and a son’s loss of innocence ... Beijing Payback is a strong debut with series potential. Victor’s personal journey is realistic — by the novel’s end he has been changed ... it will be intriguing to see where Nieh takes this character in future installments.
PositiveLos Angeles Review of BooksFurnishing a traditional Gothic suspense story line with such ultra-modern trappings may seem incongruous or even anachronistic, but Ware handles this juxtaposition admirably ... The Turn of the Key is a modern Gothic novel with a simple, chilling premise: \'[A] young woman, alone, in a strange house, with strangers watching you.\' Built around this premise are layers of suspense forming a web of complexities reflecting a number of contemporary concerns ... Unlike The Turn of the Screw...Ware picks a lane, deploying a satisfyingly dizzying parade of twists and reveals without leaving much unexplained.
PositiveLos Angeles Review of Books\"Crimes occur but don’t dominate the story line, allowing Johnston’s characters to be the central focus of this slow-burning literary thriller ... Johnston expertly weaves together the stories of those most affected by Holly Burke’s death ... Johnston delivers a richly atmospheric story whose depictions of the frozen winter landscape reinforce the novel’s theme of individuals unable to move on after loss ... The Current is, in part, a mystery, but it’s also about everything that is left in a mystery’s wake — the fathers and daughters, mothers and sons facing the tormenting questions surrounding their dead or disappeared loved ones. It is an examination of the way tragedies divide but can also offer the opportunity to bring people together, ushering in the inevitable thaw that can reveal the path toward moving forward and healing.\
PositiveLos Angeles Review of BooksThe mystery is satisfying, and Detective Rafferty formidably sly in even this half-screen capacity, but the most impressive trick French pulls off is with Toby, maintaining the reader’s sympathies for him despite his alienating character traits. It’s not easy to feel sympathy for a character without empathy, nor is it fashionable to feel sympathy toward the poster child for white male privilege. And yet, the first-person POV encourages a reader’s alliance, and even though it’s tempting to lean in to schadenfreude once Toby’s luck begins to turn, the severity of his beating and his raw vulnerability make any impulse to gloat feel hollow, unseemly ... Can empathy be learned under such extreme circumstances? If that’s even the question, it’s one of (at least) two left open for discussion in an ending rich with irony, coincidence, and ambiguous possibilities. Toby’s baffled, helpless \'I’m not the same person anymore\' is a true statement, but he’s left suspended in a delicious Tana French non-answer after experiencing a much more complicated metamorphosis than Ebenezer Scrooge’s straightforward opportunity to change his ways.
RaveLos Angeles Review of BooksMegan Abbott proves she’s still the queen of uncovering the dark complexity of the female psyche with her new novel ... It uses all the strengths she’s known for and gives them more room to develop ... Give Me Your Hand is not likely to elicit the sparks of psychic recognition Abbott’s fans have come to expect from her books; the situation is too specific, the personalities far from archetypical ... It’s an unexpected thrill to see Abbott’s themes played out over the course of a dozen or so years ... This is a book that haunts, that demands a reread to chew through all of its layers.
RaveThe Los Angeles Review of Books\"It’s an intensifying thriller, building momentum as it progresses, bringing Mike’s narrative closer to his crime, keeping the reader guessing as to V’s intentions and the level of her culpability. She may not have a direct voice here, but her power over Mike is clear in his account of their romantic history and his devotion to her, even now ... Hall upends the reader’s expectations by removing direct access to the female character, and whenever V appears to be innocent, doubt is automatically triggered in the reader by these ingrained genre presumptions about gender and power ... Love, cruelty, passion, and lies, manipulated to serve the theatrics of court and Crave alike, where the truth looks different depending on what you have to protect, what you have to lose, and whether you’re getting paid.\
RaveLos Angeles Review of BooksSunburn is Lippman’s homage to the legacy of James M. Cain, a fellow Baltimore native and a contemporary of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler ... In short: Greed, lust, murder, money, all of which Sunburn delivers.
PanThe Los Angeles Review of BooksThe much-anticipated Into the Water also employs the device of dislocating the reader with conflicting information and revisits some of the themes central to The Girl on the Train — memory, self-delusion, perception — but it can’t precisely be classified as a mystery novel ... There’s a lot to keep track of, a number of mysterious deaths and non-lethal secrets, and the way Hawkins handles her reveals varies: some are overt and declarative, some casually unveiled as incidental asides, and some are left entirely unwritten...ultra-short chapters result in a fast pace, but switching points of view so quickly, and seemingly arbitrarily...tone is also uneven ...the final showdown deflates in beige shades of cranky exhaustion ...this book will be less of a crowd-pleaser than her previous thriller.
PositiveThe Los Angeles Review of BooksThis book is more ambitious than many of the overwhelming number of domestic suspense novels published this time of year for the beach-reading audience. Its deft treatment of gender and violence is particularly strong ... In Gentry’s hands, even the most commonplace events are riddled with violent subtext ... Unfortunately, for all its strengths, the ending of the novel is a bit of a letdown.