PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksThe intent of H. G. Wells’ original novel, a protest against the horrors of vivisection, is reiterated in a few well-chosen and excruciatingly impersonal pages ... a quirky extension of the H. G. Wells story, filled with animal puns, dialogue reeking with black humor, as well as with an ending guaranteed to satisfy ... Digging deep into the dialogue and the plight of laboratory animals will hit a painful nerve to the sensitive reader, making this short novel a more poignant appeal for more humane laboratory practices.
RaveNew York Journal of BooksAlthough this has the necessary elements for a horror story, there’s no true sense of the horrific. Instead, it’s filled with the wonder of childhood curiosity, belief in the magical, of exploration of the unknown, of having an adventure. The occasional lyrical, if darkly poetical, descriptions of the underwater dwelling definitely give it a mystical, otherworldly flavor, beautiful, but with a hint of danger crouching at its edges ... This is a lovely, slightly eerie, and definitely haunting story—of the magic of young love and the attraction of the unknown. And the ending? Interpret it as you will.
C. J. Tudor
RaveNew York Journal of BooksIf all small towns and villages had as many secrets as writers claim, it’s a wonder they haven’t murdered themselves out of existence; The Burning Girls is no exception. This story has more twists and turns than a corkscrew, and just when the reader thinks he’s figured it out, there’s one more turn of that screw ... As with C. J. Tudor’s other novels, there’s a great deal going on behind the façade of the quiet little village, with each character, from Jack herself to the persecuted and neurologically challenged Wrigley, having a plethora of dark and deadly secrets. It’s entertaining reading with chills of the \'sneaking-up-on-you\' kind, with plenty of descriptions of dark and brooding graveyards with blasted headstones to set the proper scene. Anyone who has read The Chalk Man, or The Other People, will enjoy The Burning Girls. Those who haven’t read any of them definitely should.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksWith a story stretching from Stockholm to Montenegro and back, this is definitely a tense and detailed thriller, giving some interesting highlights into Swedish policework and their use of undercover agents ... Though not overly violent, the ending is a twist and a shocker, and only a reader skilled in picking out details will guess this story’s finish. The last three sentences resonate with sad and shocking irony.
RaveNew York Journal of BooksThis is a story that can be viewed on two levels—and each one is more than satisfactory—that of a love story, and also as a glimpse of a small Cornish town during a tumultuous time in history, when a dramatic turn of events can change an isolated teenager into a daring young woman ... Some readers may argue that the story for Olivia doesn’t indicate a Happily Ever After ending; others will argue that Reda’s revelations bring a somewhat bittersweet closure to that long ago hidden year, while once more returns the freedom she and Hamid experienced. The Sea Gate is a beautifully written story of two women’s courage.
Lars Kepler, tr. Neil Smith
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksThere’s very little light in Lazarus, at all. If fact, it’s as dark as the tombs in which Jurek Walter buries his victims ... The characters are introduced quickly, with little fanfare, and, though we don’t learn much about their lives before this particular story, as is usual in most crime stories, the hints are there, making the reader want to know more ... almost like one of those slasher movies: The killer seems to be stopped, the danger averted, but again and again, the police are outsmarted ... This husband and wife team writing as Lars Kepler certainly knows how to pile on the horrors and give the reader a surfeit of chills, so much so, that at some time, it seems there should be a cry of \'Enough!\' ... a thriller par excellence, though it’s advisable to read it in small increments, for the accumulation of too much horror at one time will definitely lead to sleepless nights, continuous checking of locks, and an increase in one’s lighting bill.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksIt’s always fun to read a novel in which a certain period of history, abounding with recognizable names, is portrayed. The Gilded Age in which Daniel and Genevieve live is just such a time. It’s also interesting to see the ways in which Genevieve dodges the strict roles society has placed on females. Deception by Gaslight is a definite adventure in a Gilded Age, full of scandals of the elite and crimes of the nondescript, where some readers may find a jaundiced correlation to today’s world. The history of the New York gangs is also blended well into the story. A complicated mystery, and an equally unusual romance, the last chapter leaves the reader hanging by ending so abruptly. There has to be a sequel waiting in the wings to explain what happened on the lower deck of the ocean liner—and we will definitely be waiting to learn it.
RaveNew York Journal of BooksTold from the viewpoints of the various women involved, this story is a complicated narrative of abandonment, revenge, and justice. At first, there appears to be no correlation between the various women whose stories are told, but as the web slowly tightens, the obvious becomes clear. This is definitely one story in which even the sharpest reader (and those who usually divine the outcome immediately) won’t guess all the implications before they are actually revealed ... All in all, this is a powerful story of how the resentment and pain of abandonment can sweep the guilty as well as the innocent into a maelstrom of hate from which none will emerge unscathed—but occasionally, in spite of that hate, affection for someone may still filter through.
J. S. Barnes
RaveNew York Journal of BooksTold in the epistolary form of diaries, correspondence, and newspaper articles, the novel closely follows the format set in the original by Bram Stoker. The language, style, and use of characters, as well as references from the previous novel meld together to create a story that could have possibly come from the pen of Stoker himself ... With strong descriptions and plot, J. B. Barnes has written a story that deserves a spot on the bookshelf next to the original. In style, story content, and characterization, Dracula’s Child is truly the sequel to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, succeeding where other, more famous attempts failed.
RaveNew York Journal of BooksThis mystery set in Finland, is indeed chilling. Too complicated and convoluted to give a concise synopsis, it’s safe to say, this one will keep the reader awake at night attempting to second-guess the plot ... With its hint of the occult and a powerful storyline, The Witch Hunter is a thoroughly chilling thriller making a solid entry as a first novel in a new series.
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksTold as a reminiscence by Will, this story of a consulting detective and her assistant has been likened to the adventures of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin. There is indeed, a marked similarity, both in the style of narration and time of the setting as well as in the characters themselves, in spite of the change in gender ... The story is easily read and fluidly told, with enlightening flashbacks provided from time to time by Will, who puts her own sharp-tongued dialogue, frank ironic humor, and insight into the story as well ... With the tone and style of an old-fashioned murder noir, written from the female point of view, Fortune Favors the Dead is the beginning of a stellar period piece in a hard-boiled fiction series.
V. E. Schwab
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksThe plot may not be original, having been done many times before in various forms, but V. E. Schwab’s version is definitely a unique and inventive derivation. It will be obvious after the first chapter that this is another version of Faust, but it is also a love story, as evidenced by the near-lyrical, sensual descriptions of Luc’s interactions with Addie ... a gender-flip version of Faust, and also a haunting love story that will linger.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksFans of Agatha Christie will applaud that the Christie Estate has officially assigned author Sophie Hannah to continue the late author’s legacy of creating cozy English mysteries ... It might not be a bad idea to read some of the other Poirot novels written by this author to get into the manner of presentation before taking up this one ... the flow of the story is suitably Christie-like ... close enough to Christie’s own style that the reader could segue from Murder on the Orient Express into this present novel without a stumble.
PositiveThe New York Journal of Books... may teach the reader a thing or two about Black history in the North, whether he wants to learn it or not ... may be classified as a thriller, but it is also a social commentary, revealing the evolving of a practice very much at work today, targeting not only a specific minority but also any less privileged group, regardless of race or age. It’s also the chronicle of how two people fought back.
RaveNew York Journal of BooksThis is the kind of novel readers can spend weeks discussing—the philosophical and moral nature of it as well as its fatalistic sense of justice ... the reader may be rooting for Caleb, having been drawn to him because of his youth and the way he’s bared his soul and his hopes in so many eloquent speeches ... For a long time to come, All Things Left Wild will linger in the memory of all who read it—the tragedy, the hope, and the irony of it all.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksThis novel has to be called a ghost story, because it features ghosts, but it isn’t one of those horribly grim ones with blood and gore and terrible nightmare-inducing demises ... Sometimes whimsical, occasionally philosophical, it’s more of a shadowy fairy tale, in which two lovers, of which one, unfortunately, is dead, live in an enchanted house inhabited with wondrously, quirky beings ... This is an oddly endearing story, with a bittersweet ending, one that will touch the heart, afford a few pleasant chills, and perhaps leave the reader with some questions about the beings that exist and un-exist in the world around us.
MixedThe New York Journal of BooksAuthor Harrison has combined these three fears into a story that will evoke pity even as the reader experiences the trio’s horror and revulsion ... Though the climax of the book is indeed terrifying, it only encompasses 40 of a 296-page novel. There’s a great deal of flashback, some of which isn’t directly linked to Julie’s disappearance but is more a character study of Elise and explaining her behavior. The chapters are extremely long, an average of 30 pages each. The switching of tenses from past to present may also cause the reader some confused in the narrative.
Jennifer Graeser Dornbush
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksAlthough this is a very interesting novel in which the concept of the discovery of a missing child’s remains giving closure to the family is a cogent one in today’s society, the main character’s standing may drop a couple of pegs in the reader’s estimation. Emily seems to have a tendency to react too quickly ... There are several subplots to distract the reader, also, involving life-changing choices Emily must make, proving that a coroner has a life other than doing autopsies, and plenty of decisions to make about that life. Though the discovery of James VanDerMuellen’s whereabouts is explained and dismissed in a few sentences, this revelation is a twist no one will expect, and becomes the perfect ending to a case that becomes more complicated as each fact is revealed.
RaveThe New York Journal of Books... a dazzler of a thriller, so convoluted as to promote vertigo while appearing truthfully straightforward; In fact, the reader may at first be somewhat angry at being so fooled by the author...After that moment passes, there will be nothing but admiration for the originality of Kubica’s creation ... Kubica has also created one of the most wicked villains the reader will meet in a very long line of literary baddies.
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksThough unfortunately told in the current fad of first-person present, this tale of men seeking a mermaid, that beguiling siren luring sailors to their doom, and finding instead a merrow, a much rarer and more dangerous creature, is at the same time a mystery as well as a horror story ... As intriguing as Bridie’s search for the missing Christabel and the delving into the mystery of her origins is the mystery of her acquaintance with Ruby Doyle and the bittersweet and gentle growing of affection between woman and ghost. It’s as sad a tale as that of any mermaid who falls in love with a human, and there’s no way it can have a happy ending ... In this ancient myth transformed into a frightening Gothic tale, author Jess Kidd has created a winsome but tough heroine in Bridie Devine, whom readers could happily follow through a series.
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksAs is becoming unfortunately popular as a means of exposition, part of this novel is told in the first-person present via Flora Dane, serial killer survivor ... There are great characterizations in this story, for both villains and hero(ines) ... This is a book rich in description, as well as delving into the motives and thoughts of each of the characters, law officials and killers alike, revealing some hidden depths in characters who could’ve been written as cold-blooded criminals. In author Gardner’s deft hands, they also are still lawbreakers but occasionally show moments of concern and surprising compassion ... This novel is the 11th in the series and it doesn’t stint on the tension and suspense for which this author is well known.
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksBlending myth with actual facts, Scott Carson has woven a story using one of nature’s most awful disasters combined with human greed and unconcern for the safety of his fellow man. Adding a supernatural element is icing on the cake ... would’ve made a great disaster movie back when that genre of motion picture was popular. As it is, it makes for a read that is—no pun intended—chilling ... a great tale, not of man’s inhumanity to man, but of man’s inhumanity to nature. Now, nature, with some supernatural assistance, strikes back.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksTold in the framework of a podcast after the event, Pretty as a Picture is in some ways reminiscent of those mysteries of the late thirties and early forties—filled with heroines...who were fast-talking, smart as a whip, and always managed to put themselves in danger to get the story, learn the killer’s identity, or discover the name of the spy ... Even the setting...is a contrivance borrowed from many suspense films ... Though this is definitely a murder mystery, it abounds with flatly delivered one-liners, bon mots, and recognizable lines from movies designed to give it a humorous edge. If it wasn’t for the murder plotline, this would be a most humorous novel, but it is about a murder, and that tinge of unease, of danger hovering over Marissa’s shoulder, makes for some tingly literary moments ... Pretty as a Picture is a fun, slightly eerie, definitely scary look at real murder in a make-believe world.
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksAs with the other Lychford stories, this one is a very short book, a novella, but it contains within its pages a great deal of narrative and wisdom ... There are subtly funny moments, some tongue-in-cheek and pithy with dry humor ... In this entry in the series, the characters are at their most human, touching as it does on that one condition every person secretly fears, the loss of self ... Read this novella for the magic, read it for the humor, but most of all, read it for the human element.
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksFor those missing the initial novel, members of the constabulary are re-introduced in enough detail for the uninitiated to immediately grasp their various identities. Twitten is still as earnest and pedantic, Inspector Steines just as dense, and Mrs. Groynes as crafty as ever ... The characters in this story are more deadly and dangerous than those included previously—if that’s possible. The craft and care with which author Truss weaves her facts into a richly narrated but utterly hilarious tapestry is amazing. The reader may find himself wondering how she manages to keep her facts straight as she throws his own mental processes into such a delightful muddle ... Filled with British humor and slang, The Man That Got Away is hilarious and intriguing, with satire aforethought. Don’t overwork the little gray cells; simply read and enjoy!
RaveNew York Journal of BooksIn Cold Storage, David Koepp easily transfers to novel from his experience as the screenwriter of such recognizable movies as Jurassic Park and War of the Worlds, giving this story the sense of immediacy and danger those films contain ... He also gives the reader an extensive biography of the more notable characters, so we are not only familiar with them but will ultimately be touched with their fates. No one is simply introduced and immediately dispatched/written out without us knowing his name, occupation, and various eccentricities. Cold Storage is one of the most intriguing, frightening, yet entertaining novels of this genre this reviewer has read in a long time. Easy to read, easy to understand, its characters are enjoyable, brave, clever, and surprisingly funny in the face of catastrophe.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksAt first the story seems the usual crime noir adventure ... the tone of the story, as well as its theme switches from mystery to sci-fi and from there to horror. Told from Lee’s point-of-view, Blood Relations is a psychological thriller-cum-horror tale trembling on the brink of reality. It may give the reader a great deal to think about—and cause him to look to the future with dread.
PositiveNew York Journal of Books\"
Some authors take their time in setting up the crime, lovingly describing step by step as it takes place; others leap right in, beginning their stories with its commission. Walker does them one better. He’s so eager to embroil the reader in the story that he has the crime committed before the story begins, and by the third paragraph of page one, the reader is plunged directly into the investigation ... it brushes aside the extraneous and immediately takes the reader into the investigation and the array of characters and motives with no wasted verbiage ... the usual delightful coterie of Bruno’s colleagues are again present, offering assistance in solving the crime as well as in preparing and eating the usual delightful recipes featured throughout the story.\
RaveNew York Journal of BooksThe Pandora Room is a skillful blending of paranormal horror with a political thriller. Both Ben and Sophie are written as likable characters, determined to carry out their assigned duties while attempting to protect their find as well as their associates. Each team member is carefully characterized and his/her background given in such detail that even the most minor character is well-delineated and made into someone the reader will care about and hope for their survival. The detail in describing both the Greenland terrain as well as the topography of Amadiyah and the underground city is realistic and so graphic one can truly imagine the burning cold of the north as well as the suffocatingly dry heat of the desert. There’s also a weaving of myth versus reality in Greek legend in the interpretation of the inscriptions found in Derveyi that would posit an interesting debate in real life. The same descriptive diligence is given to the escape scenes inside Derveyi ... While no mention is made that this is the first in a new series, The Pandora Room has all the makings of such, and if so, its arrival for the reading public will be well received.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksThe Missing Years is a slow-starting book that takes a bit to get going but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because there’s a great deal of exposition the main character has to reveal to set events in motion. Each action is carefully laid out in a way making the reader anticipate what will happen ... All the players in the drama from Alisa to Fiona, and even Jonathan, Alisa’s significant other who’s mostly witnessed more or less remotely more or less via the newscasts he reports or in flashbacks, are meticulously characterized so the reader thinks he knows well how each will act—and is then proven cleverly wrong ... There’s only one minor detail with which one might take exception. When Martin Calder’s fate is finally discovered, it’s more or less brushed aside with bare legal amenities. One feels there should have been more done than a mere summoning-up on that matter. With its growing atmosphere of dread and its moody environs, The Missing Years begins with a Gothic hint that rapidly segues into a suspenseful thriller with a breathless twist of a dénouement.
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksLike most Lucas Davenport stories, this one is heavy on the good-natured sarcasm between the protagonists punctuated with cynicism in regard to the antagonists, and an assortment of cold-blooded violence on the part of the bad guys ... another entry in the Lucas Davenport series that keep raising the bar on thrills and excitement, in a fast-paced police procedural. Grab this one and give it an A++ for its well-written and neatly delineated characters.
PositiveThe New York Journal of Books\"As with all Jonathan Kellerman novels, there are some good characterizations ... There is little exploration into Alex and Milo’s personal lives in this one ... This change in direction midway the story will be as surprising to the reader as it is to the detectives, and brings about a shocking, and ironic, ending As the 34th Alex Delaware novel, The Wedding Guest proves once again why this series has become the longest-running American crime series.\
PositiveNew York Journal of Books\"Set in a time when human monsters are already roaming that part of the world fomenting hatred and death, the ending of this novel at the same time provides a staggering twist and a shocking disappointment, not a disappointment in the usual sense, but in that the reader’s expectations for the main characters are irrevocably shattered. Craig Russell’s manner of doing this is a deft bit of authorship because it is totally unexpected ... A horror story, a novel of psychological terror, or simply a mystery in a historical setting, The Devil’s Aspect is all three and more. It’s a novel the reader will remember and continue to think about long after that final sentence is read, while those with an ironic frame of mind will also realize Viktor’s promise to follow Judita to America has actually been kept.\
PositiveNew York Journal of Books\"In Wyndham and Bannerjee, Mukherjee has created two appealing characters presenting different factions of the whole that is India, revealing what each gives up to serve king and country, and answers the question of which country each actually serves ... An interesting story, with two remarkable characters, which will make the reader seek out the other novels in this series while asking for more.\
PositiveNew York Journal of Books\"Christopher Rice has written a suspense-filled, forceful second entry in his series, a well-balanced thriller with deep-delving characterizations. Blood Echo is filled with a complex cast of characters imbued with both good and evil, as well a good man who walks the thin line between.\
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksA beautiful retelling of the beloved fairytale set against the reality of 17th century France. As with Lisa Jensen’s poignant Beast: A Tale of Love, there is an unexpected twist to the ending. This debut novel told from the Beast’s point of view is poetical, imaginative, and inventive.
C J Tudor
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksIn spite of being written in the irritating first-person present point of view, this is a gripping, definitely creepy story ... he sense of dread hovering over the entire story becomes thicker and more desperate as Joe realizes his time is running out ... has enough shocks and twists to keep the reader off balance until the last page.
PositiveNew York Journal of Books\"What begins as a mere mystery transforms into a thriller delving into the psyches of patient and therapist. In a final climactic chapter, it is shockingly shown how alike their shared experiences are ... The Silent Patient dramatically proves no man is an island and whatever happens in one person’s life may in turn affect another, for better or worse.\
PositiveNew York Journal of Books\"This fictional biography, as narrated by the subject himself, has the fascinating flavor of those infamous but sought-after 19th century dime novels ... With an included Cast of Characters—and what characters they are!—listing almost everyone mentioned in the novel, and authentic archival photographs, The Perilous Adventures of the Cowboy King would be a rousing tale of adventure even if it wasn’t based on fact.\
MixedNew York Journal of Books\"Harms’ Way is a chilling journey through a killer’s mind, presented as a near stream-of-consciousness narration so that the segues from one subject to another occur in such a way it’s sometimes difficult to differentiate the real from the unreal, what is actually happening, from Harms’ ruminations and recollections ... Readers will no doubt feel a surprising sympathy for the characters in this story, then remind themselves of the crimes committed and have an immediate reversal of opinion. Some may question whether the isolation into which these men are placed makes them worse as it causes their thoughts to fester in minds blank with boredom, to keep returning to the one thing they’re certain of: their crimes. Nevertheless, the emotion evoked by this story will remain tucked away in the heart, in the form of dismaying pity, that, through heredity, environment, or both, the minds of some individuals can make them so cruelly inclined to their fellow beings.\
RaveNew York Journal of BooksWho is victim and who is antagonist in this story? ... This reviewer prides herself on weeding out the \'villain of the piece\' long before the author’s disclosure. Not this time. In Bleak Harbor, Bryan Gruley truly has an ace up his sleeve, for the person behind Danny’s abduction is, a surprise that will shock some while others will applaud its brilliance. It’s a truly exceptional suspense story with a unique protagonist who isn’t to be underestimated.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksMany novels have been described as \'rollercoaster rides,\' but The Three Beths is a ride and a half. As slowly and inexorably as those cars creeping up that steep incline, the mystery mounts, clues piling atop each other, tension becoming more taut with every movement. It seems the pinnacle, that dénouement, will never be reached, and when it is, the downward rush is both a relief as well as a shock. Some may argue Craig’s pursuit of his tormenter is a red herring; be that as it may, as a way of adding more tension, it works.
PositiveNew York Journal of Books\"Adapted from the author’s British radio series, A Shot in the Dark is a terribly chatty novel proceeding in such a leisurely fashion and with such an influx of seemingly unrelated information that the reader at first may not recognize it as a droll and witty satire of the English cozy novel ... A Shot in the Dark is a comedy of criminal errors with a Monty Pythonesque flavor, written with the author’s tongue firmly implanted in cheek. One hopes that author Lynn Truss will present us with more of Constable Twitten’s adventures, if only in a set of four as was the radio series.\
RaveNew York Journal of Books\"From the very first page until the final one, Mr. Schott’s method of composition mirrors the original, employing both madcap adventure and the wordplay that is characteristic of Wodehouse novels. The Jeeves fan will marvel at how close author Schott’s style mirrors the original ... Jeeves and the King of Clubs is an experience not to be missed, a rollicking satire of stiff upper lips and gentlemanly capers in which even the title is a play on words.\
MixedNew York Journal of Books...the novel starts off interestingly enough, but soon devolves into one long battle with plenty of deaths, differentiated only by whoever is the current antagonist, and punctuated by long commentary ... It seems each and every character created by author Rice has to have a say in what’s going on, so much so in fact, that some of the narration appears nothing more than a roll call of names, and may tempt the reader to commit what the devotee would term a sin—skimming the pages.
RaveNew York Journal of BooksThis is an adventure worthy of the captain ... Between his version of the story—with examples inserted here and there—and his own opinions and wry and dry verbal ripostes, the reader will be highly entertained ... This story also gives a good look at New York of the mid-19th century, and the devastation and danger lurking in the streets of Manhattan ... It’s also a social commentary on the plight of the immigrants as well as those of any lower social status ... This fast-paced, occasionally acerbic, often bloody, but always entertaining story is an homage to Moby-Dick and a fitting continuation/conclusion of Ahab’s story. If, however, author Ford decides to pen another tale telling where the captain ends up this time, it will be gladly accepted.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksThis is a novel with a most unique premise ... Find You in the Dark is a well-written, if sometimes gruesome tale of one man’s determination ... It’s a chilling story of a man who could’ve conceivably become a serial killer pitted against one who actually is.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksAfter a brief introduction to get the reader oriented to when, where, and why Decker is as he is, the mystery immediately starts. By page six, both reader and FBI consultant are up and running, directly into 432 pages of mystery, murder, soul-searching grief, and startling revelations ... The Fallen is another winner in this entertaining series.
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksThe Ghost Notebooks isn’t a particularly frightening story, nor is it filled with 'horror' per se. It may wring a shiver or two from the reader; however, they won’t be frissons of fear but more of poignancy. This novel is one that will leave the reader thoughtful and perhaps linger long in the memory. It’s a haunting story of one man’s determination to assuage his grief by keeping the dead alive and another man’s struggle to give them peace.