by Matthew Blake ‧ RELEASE DATE: Jan. 2, 2024
Layered and grandly operatic in scope and tension.
Four years after a woman allegedly murdered her best friends while sleepwalking, an ambitious London psychologist gets the opportunity to treat her—and to determine, once and for all, her guilt or innocence.
Dr. Benedict Prince, forensic psychologist and sleep specialist, is summoned to a meeting with Dr. Virginia Bloom (his boss at the Abbey Sleep Clinic) and a man from the Ministry of Justice to discuss a recent article in which Ben proposed a possible cure to “resignation syndrome,” which is when a patient enters a deep sleep, often lasting for years, as a way of directly avoiding trauma. The government wants Ben to conduct an experiment on a notorious (alleged) criminal: a young journalist named Anna Ogilvy, aka “Sleeping Beauty,” who’s believed to have murdered two people while sleepwalking, and who hasn’t woken up in the four years since. The government needs Anna awake so she can stand trial for these murders. Ben, of course, has little choice but to agree, and he begins sensory stimulation therapy, believing that if he can connect Anna’s subconscious to happy memories from her childhood, he may be able to wake her. Before she went to sleep, Anna was working to uncover a connection between one of the most notorious English murderers of the 20th century and a secret government experiment called MEDEA. While she might be guilty, Ben realizes that she might also have been a scapegoat for someone else’s murderous rage. And if this shadowy someone has previously killed to protect their secret, Anna’s waking may put her, and Ben, in danger. From the bowels of a notorious psychiatric hospital to a primeval forest to the sun-drenched beaches of Grand Cayman, Blake’s thriller invokes comparisons to Greek tragedies and locked-room mysteries alike, while exploring the additional complicated psychology of sleep and guilt. While this is fully a “whodunit” with an actual solution, it’s even more a “whydunit.” Once you pick it up, there’s no putting it down.Layered and grandly operatic in scope and tension.
Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2024
Page Count: 448
Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2023
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by Stephen King ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 5, 2023
Loyal King stans may disagree, but this is a snooze.
A much-beloved author gives a favorite recurring character her own novel.
Holly Gibney made her first appearance in print with a small role in Mr. Mercedes (2014). She played a larger role in The Outsider (2018). And she was the central character in If It Bleeds, a novella in the 2020 collection of the same name. King has said that the character “stole his heart.” Readers adore her, too. One way to look at this book is as several hundred pages of fan service. King offers a lot of callbacks to these earlier works that are undoubtedly a treat for his most loyal devotees. That these easter eggs are meaningless and even befuddling to new readers might make sense in terms of costs and benefits. King isn’t exactly an author desperate to grow his audience; pleasing the people who keep him at the top of the bestseller lists is probably a smart strategy, and this writer achieved the kind of status that whatever he writes is going to be published. Having said all that, it’s possible that even his hardcore fans might find this story a bit slow. There are also issues in terms of style. Much of the language King uses and the cultural references he drops feel a bit creaky. The word slacks occurs with distracting frequency. King uses the phrase keeping it on the down-low in a way that suggests he probably doesn’t understand how this phrase is currently used—and has been used for quite a while. But the biggest problem is that this narrative is framed as a mystery without delivering the pleasures of a mystery. The reader knows who the bad guys are from the start. This can be an effective storytelling device, but in this case, waiting for the private investigator heroine to get to where the reader is at the beginning of the story feels interminable.Loyal King stans may disagree, but this is a snooze.
Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023
Page Count: 464
Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023
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by Michael Connelly ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 7, 2023
The most richly accomplished of the brothers’ pairings to date—and given Connelly’s high standards, that’s saying a lot.
Harry Bosch and the Lincoln Lawyer team up to exonerate a woman who’s already served five years for killing her ex-husband.
The evidence against Lucinda Sanz was so overwhelming that she followed the advice of Frank Silver, the B-grade attorney who’d elbowed his way onto her defense, and pleaded no contest to manslaughter to avoid a life sentence for shooting Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Roberto Sanz in the back as he stalked out of her yard after their latest argument. But now that her son, Eric, is 13, old enough to get recruited by local gangs, she wants to be out of stir and at his side. So she writes to Mickey Haller, who asks his half-brother for help. After all his years working for the LAPD, Bosch is adamant about not working for a criminal defendant, even though Haller’s already taken him on as an associate so that he can get access to private health insurance and a UCLA medical trial for an experimental cancer treatment. But the habeas corpus hearing Haller’s aiming for isn’t, strictly speaking, a criminal defense proceeding, and even a cursory examination of the forensic evidence raises Bosch’s hackles. Bolstered by Bosch’s discoveries and a state-of-the-art digital reconstruction of the shooting, Haller heads to court to face Assistant Attorney General Hayden Morris, who has a few tricks up his own sleeve. The endlessly resourceful courtroom back-and-forth is furious in its intensity, although Haller eventually upstages Bosch, Morris, and everyone else in sight. What really stands out here, however, is that Connelly never lets you forget, from his title onward, the life-or-death issues behind every move in the game.The most richly accomplished of the brothers’ pairings to date—and given Connelly’s high standards, that’s saying a lot.
Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023
Page Count: 400
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023
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