Quick Review: A MAP OF THE DARK by Karen Ellis (Mulholland)

EllisK-1-AMapOfTheDarkThe first novel in the Searchers series

A girl missing

A woman, searching

A killer, planning…

If you’re lost she’ll find you

But who will save her?

Elsa Myers is smart, determined, and gifted with an extraordinary ability to find missing children. When vulnerable teenager Ruby disappears from Queens, she is put on the case.

But Elsa’s skills are rooted in her own troubled past. She is haunted by her mother’s murder, her father is dying, and her relationship with her sister is crumbling. As the case begins to look hopeless, it becomes more and more personal, tangling with the traumatic history she has worked so hard to hide.

As the darkness gathers around her, Elsa has to make a choice: can she save Ruby, if it means losing herself?

A Map of the Dark is the first in an interesting new series from Karen Ellis that introduces us to Elsa Myers, an FBI agent struggling with her own inner demons. While this is a novel far more about the protagonist than it is the crime she and her colleagues are investigating, I enjoyed the novel, and I think the series has promise. Continue reading


Excerpt: DAYFALL by Michael David Ares (Tor)

AresMD-DayfallToday, we have an excerpt from Michael David Ares‘s new novel, Dayfall. Published by Tor Books, here’s the synopsis…


In the near future, patches of the northern hemisphere have been shrouded in years of darkness from a nuclear winter, and the water level has risen in the North Atlantic. The island of Manhattan has lost its outer edges to flooding and is now ringed by a large seawall.

The darkness and isolation have allowed crime and sin to thrive in the never-ending shadows of the once great city, and when the sun finally begins to reappear, everything gets worse. A serial killer cuts a bloody swath across the city during the initial periods of daylight, and a violent panic sweeps through crowds on the streets. The Manhattan police, riddled with corruption and apathy, are at a loss.

That’s when the Mayor recruits Jon Phillips, a small-town Pennsylvania cop who had just single-handedly stopped a high-profile serial killer in his own area, and flies him into the insanity of this new New York City. The young detective is partnered with a shady older cop and begins to investigate the crimes amidst the vagaries of a twenty-four hour nightlife he has never experienced before. Soon realizing that he was chosen for reasons other than what he was told, Jon is left with no one to trust and forced to go on the run in the dark streets, and below them in the maze of the underground. Against all odds he still hopes that he can save his own life, the woman of his dreams, and maybe even the whole city before the arrival of the mysterious and dreaded event that has come to be known as… DAYFALL.

Read on for the excerpt…

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Excerpt: THE FINAL GIRLS by Riley Sager (Ebury)

SagerR-FinalGirlsUKRiley Sager‘s Final Girls has been racking up some impressive fans: Stephen King called it “the first great thriller of 2017”; Karin Slaughter called it “terrific”; Lisa Gardner called it “the best book of 2017”; and Whoopi Goldberg called it “Fantastic” — to name but a few. Today, I have an excerpt from the novel, to whet your appetite. But first, the synopsis:

Three girls. Three tragedies. One unthinkable secret.

The media calls them the Final Girls – Quincy, Sam, Lisa – the infamous group that no one wants to be part of. The sole survivors of three separate killing sprees, they are linked by their shared trauma.

But when Lisa dies in mysterious circumstances and Sam shows up unannounced on her doorstep, Quincy must admit that she doesn’t really know anything about the other Final Girls. Can she trust them? Or can there only ever be one?

All Quincy knows is one thing: she is next.

Final Girls is out now, published by Ebury in the UK, and Dutton in the US.

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Upcoming: THE BANKER’S WIFE by Cristina Alger (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

AlgerC-BankersWifeUSCristina Alger‘s next novel takes on the darker sides of high-stakes finance in New York. I’ve read some of Alger’s previous work (including her debut, The Darlings), and I’m looking forward to giving this a try. Here’s the synopsis:

On an early morning in November, a couple boards a private plane bound for Geneva, flying into a storm. Soon after, it simply drops off the radar, and its wreckage is later uncovered in the Alps. Among the disappeared is Matthew Lerner, a banking insider at Swiss United, a powerful offshore bank. His young widow, Annabel, is left grappling with the secrets he left behind, including an encrypted laptop and a shady client list. As she begins a desperate search for answers, she determines that Matthew’s death was no accident, and that she is now in the crosshairs of his powerful enemies.

Meanwhile, ambitious society journalist Marina Tourneau has finally landed at the top. Now that she’s engaged to Grant Ellis, she will stop writing about powerful families and finally be a part of one. Her entry into the upper echelons of New York’s social scene is more appealing than any article could ever be, but, after the death of her mentor, she agrees to dig into one more story. While looking into Swiss United, Marina uncovers information that implicates some of the most powerful men in the financial world, including some who are too close to home. The story could also be the answer to Annabel’s heartbreaking search — if Marina chooses to publish it.

The Banker’s Wife is due to be published in North America by G.P. Putnam’s Sons and in the UK by Mulholland, in July 2018.

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Upcoming: LAST LOOKS by Howard Michael Gould (Dutton)

GouldHM-LastLooksUSHoward Michael Gould’s new crime/mystery novel is billed as a lampoon of the Hollywood culture. This caught my attention, as my fascination with all things Hollywood continues. I’m looking forward to reading this. Here’s the synopsis:

There are run-of-the-mill eccentric Californians, and then there’s former detective Charlie Waldo.

Waldo, a onetime LAPD superstar, now lives in solitude deep in the woods, pathologically committed to owning no more than one hundred possessions. He has left behind his career and his girlfriend, Lorena, to pay self-imposed penance for an awful misstep on an old murder case. But the old ghosts are about to come roaring back.

There are plenty of difficult actors in Hollywood, and then there’s Alastair Pinch.

Alastair is a onetime Royal Shakespeare Company thespian who now slums it as the “wise” Southern judge on a tacky network show. He’s absurdly rich, often belligerent, and typically drunk — a damning combination when Alastair’s wife is found dead on their living room floor and he can’t remember what happened.

Waldo’s old flame Lorena, hiding peril of her own, draws him toward the case, and Alastair’s greedy network convinces Waldo to take it on. But after such a long time away from both civilization and sleuthing — and plagued by a confounding array of assailants who want him gone — Waldo must navigate complicated webs of ego and deceit to clear Alastair’s name… or confirm his guilt.

Last Looks is due to be published by Dutton in August 2018. (No news on a British publisher, but it’s available to pre-order as an import.)

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Review: THE GUILTY and END GAME by David Baldacci (Grand Central / Macmillan)


The fourth and fifth Robie & Reel novels see a shift in the series style

Will Robie is the government’s most professional, disciplined, and lethal assassin. He infiltrates the most hostile countries in the world, defeats our enemies’ advanced security measures, and eliminates threats before they ever reach our shores.

But now, his skills have left him. Sent overseas on a critical assignment, he fails, unable to pull the trigger. Absent his talents, Robie is a man without a mission, and without a purpose.

To recover what he has lost, Robie must confront what he has tried to forget for over twenty years: his own past.

Will Robie escaped his small Gulf Coast hometown of Cantrell, Mississippi, after high school, severing all personal ties, and never looked back. Not once. Not until the unimaginable occurs. His father, Dan Robie, has been arrested and charged with murder.
Father and son haven’t spoken or seen each other since the day Robie left town. In that time, Dan Robie–a local attorney and pillar of the community – has been elected town judge. Despite this, most of Cantrell is aligned against Dan. His guilt is assumed.

To make matters worse, Dan has refused to do anything to defend himself. When Robie tries to help, his father responds only with anger and defiance. Could Dan really be guilty?

I’m definitely a fan of Baldacci’s novels. After the Camel Club series ended, the author’s novels featuring Will Robie and Jessica Reel quickly became my favourites. However, these last two installments — while enjoyable and engaging thrillers in their own right — didn’t quite rise to the quality I have come to expect from the author. Nevertheless, they are well-written novels, and I was kept entertained and invested in the story. Continue reading



This movie is based on a novella of the same name by Jonathan Ames (a review copy of which I received quite recently). A brutal crime story, the movie stars Joaquin Phoenix as Joe, who is hired to rescue a young girl kidnapped by a sex ring. The movie, directed by Lynne Ramsay, is already racking up accolades and awards, and was the winner of Best Actor and Best Screenplay at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival. Here’s the trailer:

The movie is due to arrive in cinemas in April 2018 — distributed by Film 4, Amazon Studios, and others.

AmesJ-YouWereNeverReallyHereJonathan Ames’s You Were Never Really Here is published in North America by Vintage (a movie tie-in edition is due out in March), and in the UK by Pushkin Vertigo. Here’s the synopsis…

A gritty, harrowing story of corruption and one man’s violent quest for vengeance.

Joe has witnessed things that cannot be erased. A former FBI agent and Marine, his abusive childhood has left him damaged beyond repair. He has completely withdrawn from the world and earns his living rescuing girls who have been kidnapped into the sex trade.

When he’s hired to save the daughter of a corrupt New York senator held captive at a Manhattan brothel, he stumbles into a dangerous web of conspiracy, and he pays the price. As Joe’s small web of associates are picked off one by one, he realizes that he has no choice but to take the fight to the men who want him dead.

Brutal and redemptive in equal measure, You Were Never Really Here is a toxic shot of a thriller, laced with corruption, revenge and the darkest of inner demons.

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