Subscriber-Only Content. You must be a PW subscriber to access feature articles from our print edition. To view, subscribe or log in.
Site license users can log in here.

Get IMMEDIATE ACCESS to Publishers Weekly for only $15/month.

Instant access includes exclusive feature articles on notable figures in the publishing industry, the latest industry news, interviews of up and coming authors and bestselling authors, and access to over 200,000 book reviews.

PW "All Access" site license members have access to PW's subscriber-only website content. To find out more about PW's site license subscription options please email: PublishersWeekly@omeda.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (outside US/Canada, call +1-847-513-6135) 8:00 am - 4:30 pm, Monday-Friday (Central).

Lockdown: An NYPD Negotiators Novel

Sara Driscoll. Jen J. Danna, $14.99 trade paper (270p) ISBN 978-1-9991851-4-5

In Driscoll’s pulse-pounding third thriller featuring Gemma Capello (after Shot Caller), the NYPD hostage negotiator tackles a case that hits uncomfortably close to home. When Gemma was 10 years old, she and her mother were taken hostage by armed robbers during a trip to the bank, and her mother was killed. On the 25th anniversary of her mother’s death, Gemma calls her father in hopes of distracting him from his grief, but her efforts are interrupted by news of a shooting at Brooklyn’s South Greenfield High School, which her nephew attends. Though she’s off-duty, Gemma rushes to the scene. She and the SWAT team easily apprehend the first shooter, but a second gunman manages to take a classroom hostage, forcing Gemma to figure out what, exactly, the teenager wants without setting him off. Over the course of her negotiations—which Driscoll illustrates with breathtaking panache, taking readers through the school room by room and floor by floor at Gemma’s side—Gemma connects the current shooting to the years-old death of a South Greenfield student. Driscoll approaches the potentially lurid material with admirable sensitivity, and maintains suspense throughout. Readers will clamor for the next installment. (Self-published)

Reviewed on 06/28/2024 | Details & Permalink

show more
Zetas till We Die

Amber and Danielle Brown. Graydon House, $18.99 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-1-5258-3671-8

The diverting latest from the Brown twins (after Perfect Little Lives) centers on a group of college friends united by the decade-old murder of their sorority sister, Lupé. Therapist Priscilla, who has a beautiful home and a beautiful husband in Northern California, can hardly wait to host the 10-year reunion for her Acadia University Zeta Phi Zeta sisters, few of whom have kept in touch since graduation. The impending reunion coincides with the premature release from prison of their classmate Travis Wolfe, who was convicted of Lupé’s murder thanks to the sisters’ testimony. Hoping to numb her feelings about Travis, who’s being let off on a technicality, Priscilla knocks back one too many drinks at the party. She wakes up the next morning with a bump on her head and little memory of the festivities. The next evening, Priscilla learns that Zoë, one of her guests, has not returned home, leading the sisters to speculate that Travis might be out for revenge. Soon, more members of their circle vanish. The Browns toggle between Priscilla’s POV and transcripts from Travis’s trial, cleverly using the past to shed light on the present. It’s an intriguing puzzle. Agent: Jessica Faust, BookEnds Literary. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 06/28/2024 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Accomplice

Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, with Aaron Philip Clark. Amistad, $27.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-06-331290-6

In rapper 50 Cent’s dynamic fiction debut (after the memoir Hustle Smarter, Hustle Harder), Vietnam-vet-turned-thief Desmond Bell breaks into the oldest bank in Texas and steals $2 million in Spanish gold and a slave manifest implicating the Duchamps, one of the Lone Star State’s wealthiest families, as beneficiaries of the transatlantic slave trade. If the details of the document got out, they would tarnish the family’s reputation and torpedo the presidential campaign of scion Corbin Duchamp. Hot on Desmond’s heels is Nia Adams, the first Black woman sworn into the Texas Rangers, who bears her own physical and psychological scars from the line of duty. Meanwhile, the Duchamps have sent sadistic investigator Bartholomew Katz after Desmond in hopes of retrieving their property. Much of the taut narrative is dedicated to Nia and Katz’s pursuit of Desmond, which remains gripping all the way to the bang-up finale. A subplot about a fraternity of thieves who recover priceless artifacts with complex histories nicely sets up a potential sequel. Fans of John Wick–style action thrillers will not be disappointed. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 06/28/2024 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Whitewashed Tombs

Kwei Quartey. Soho Crime, $27.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-64129-588-8

Quartey’s fourth mystery featuring PI Emma Djan (after Last Seen in Lapaz) is the best yet, interweaving an agonizing portrait of anti-LGBTQ prejudice in Ghana with a top-notch whodunit. Djan works for Accra’s Sowah Agency, an investigative firm retained by Godfrey Tetteh to probe the murder of his gay 27-year-old son, Marcelo, who’s been hacked to death by someone who posed as a potential partner on a hookup app. Godfrey hires Djan’s agency because he doesn’t trust the local authorities with the inquiry, given Marcelo’s status as one of Ghana’s most vocal queer activists. In a recent television appearance, Ghana’s antigay tourism minister, Peter Ansah, told viewers they “knew what to do” if they ever saw Marcelo on the street; Ansah was also present when Marcelo disrupted a speech by a well-known Christian fundamentalist. Emma’s investigation—which treats Ansah as a primary suspect—grows complicated when she learns that her closeted partner used to date Marcello. To find answers, Emma goes undercover, with one of her least favorite colleagues, to infiltrate the upper ranks of Ghana’s government. Quartey never puts a foot wrong, keeping the plot twists coming fast and furious without sacrificing the story’s heart. Readers will be wowed. Agent: Marly Rusoff, Marly Rusoff & Assoc. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 06/28/2024 | Details & Permalink

show more
Gaslight

Miles Joris-Peyrafitte and Sara Shepard. Blackstone, $26.99 (340p) ISBN 979-8-212-18922-4

A former cult member confronts her past when an old acquaintance shows up on her doorstep in this patchy collaboration between filmmaker Joris-Peyrafitte and YA author Shepard (the Pretty Little Liars series). Rebecca Williams lives a quiet life in Carson City, Nev., with her husband, Tom, and their two children. Tom doesn’t know that, eight years earlier, Rebecca was a devoted member of the Infinite Spiritual Being Community, a cult led by charismatic manipulator Ben Rahm. After an emaciated young woman named Danny turns up at the couple’s home and says she knows Rebecca, flashbacks reveal how Rebecca and Danny were first drawn into ISB by Ben’s persuasive messages of self-reliance. In the present, Danny claims she needs Rebecca’s help to break from Ben and his followers. Can Rebecca trust her? Or has Danny been sent to draw Rebecca back into Ben’s malevolent orbit? The dual timelines contribute to the narrative’s jerky pacing, and the authors’ characterizations are thin, but the sections on Rebecca’s life in ISB are chilling. It’s a mixed bag. Agent: Anna Worrall, Gernert Co. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 06/28/2024 | Details & Permalink

show more
Swallow the Ghost

Eugenie Montague. Mulholland, $29 (320p) ISBN 978-0-316-56806-7

In this bold and bewitching debut, Montague explores the complex construction of public and private identities in three interlocking narratives. The first part comprises a deceptively traditional mystery centered on burned-out marketer Jane Murphy, who’s building buzz for the next novel from experimental crime author Jeremy Miller by managing multiple fake social media accounts that tell the story of a fictional girl’s disappearance. After Jane is murdered, Montague’s story morphs into a true crime pastiche narrated by the PI investigating her death, who’s wrestling with an identity crisis brought on by his career change from journalist to detective. In the final section, Miller describes his life after Jane’s death—including the ways he dealt with rumors that he killed her—in a podcast interview, which shrewdly transforms him from secondary character to self-obsessed protagonist and underscores the novel’s themes about the slipperiness of self-conception. Montague navigates the perspective switches with prose so distinctive that each segment feels almost as if it were written by a different author, which makes for thrilling reading while enhancing the narrative’s Rashomon-like structure. The result is a brain-teasing triumph that will reward multiple readings. Agent: Katherine Fausset, Curtis Brown. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 06/28/2024 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Mesmerist

Caroline Woods. Doubleday, $28 (336p) ISBN 978-0-385-55016-1

Woods (The Lunar Housewife) draws on a real crime spree for this excellent historical suspense novel in which three women band together to bring down a serial killer. In 1894 Minneapolis, a spiritualism craze is sweeping through the lower classes and a string of women have died under mysterious circumstances. One morning, a bruised, nonspeaking woman arrives at the Bethany Home for Unwed Mothers and is given the name “Faith” by treasurer Abby Mendenhall, a progressive Quaker and fierce advocate for the institution’s residents. Faith is assigned a room with May, a teen who was driven from home after getting pregnant by a man who wouldn’t marry her. Faith’s muteness soon stirs rumors that she possesses occult powers, which, in the eyes of some Bethany residents, might account for the city’s murders. Tensions mount with news that a brothel owner who employed several Bethany girls has been found dead. When Hal, the handsome suitor courting May, reveals a dark side, she starts to fear he could be the killer, leading her to team up with Faith and Abby to ferret out the truth. Fastidious historical detail, expert suspense, and indelible characterizations combine to make this a certified page-turner. Readers will be up all night. Agent: Shannon Hassan, Marsal Lyon Literary. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 06/21/2024 | Details & Permalink

show more
Ashes Never Lie

Lee Goldberg. Thomas & Mercer, $28.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-662512-38-4

Goldberg’s crafty second procedural featuring L.A. arson investigators Walter Sharpe and Andrew Walker (after Malibu Burning) finds the partners looking into a pair of suspicious blazes. First, they’re called to the scene of a fire at an unoccupied new home. Before they can investigate thoroughly, Sharpe and Walker are called to a nearby house that has burned down with a male corpse inside. That discovery brings homicide detective Eve Ronin (who anchors a different Goldberg series) and her sidekick, Duncan Pavone, into the investigation. Together, all four try to determine whether the dead man—Patrick Lopresti, who has a bullet wound in his head in addition to severe burns—was murdered or took his own life. Soon, they learn Lopresti worked for a biotech firm developing “biological defenses against emerging infectious diseases,” and that he was having an affair with his colleague Justine Bryce, who was accidentally infected with a supervirus and has since gone missing. As the four search for Justine, they unravel a deadly conspiracy that links back to Sharpe and Walker’s initial investigation. Goldberg manages to give each of his four leads their due while keeping the investigation’s fuse burning bright. This series deserves a long life. Agent: Amy Tannenbaum, Jane Rotrosen Agency. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 06/21/2024 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Hitchcock Hotel

Stephanie Wrobel. Berkley, $29 (352p) ISBN 978-0-593-54711-3

Wrobel’s diverting if somewhat lethargic latest (after This Might Hurt) introduces Hitchcock aficionado Alfred Smettle, owner of the eponymous hotel, a bed-and-breakfast (complete with a crow-filled aviary) in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. To celebrate the first anniversary of the hotel’s grand opening, Alfred invites five friends from his university film club for a four-day stay. Few members of the group—which includes security specialist TJ, entrepreneur Samira, hedge fund manager Grace, recently disgraced restaurateur Zoe, and luxury clothing heir Julius—have remained close in the 16 years since they graduated, but each has their own private reason for accepting Alfred’s invitation. The group’s mild interest in reuniting turns to unease as the weekend wears on and buried secrets from their university days rise to the surface, calling into question why, exactly, Alfred has summoned them. Eventually, somebody dies. Wrobel front-loads the narrative with too much exposition, but once the secrets are out, she delivers a fun third act. Hitchcock fans will delight in the copious easter eggs, but others will find this unremarkable. Agent: Madeleine Milburn, Madeleine Milburn Agency. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 06/21/2024 | Details & Permalink

show more
Wilderness Reform

Matt and Harrison Query. Atria/Bestler, $27.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-6680-2413-3

The Query brothers follow Old Country with another spine-tingling suspense novel, this time centered on a wilderness reform school. In Lafitte, La., 13-year-old Ben Thibodaux is arrested for robbing a gas station with a fake gun. Rather than sending Ben to juvenile detention—where he’d happily reunite with several friends—a judge ships him to Bear Springs Academy in Montana. Ben’s fierce objections to being sent away grow more pronounced when he arrives and gets strange vibes from the program director, Reid, and the counselors assigned to whip Ben into shape. While learning to fly fish and build fires, Ben forms alliances with other boys in his cabin, many of whom also sense unease beneath their counselors’ placid smiles. After former campers warn Ben and his new friends that there’s evil coursing through the camp, the boys prepare to fight an otherwordly enemy. While the setup is familiar and the pacing is leisurely, the Querys set themselves apart with sterling prose (a muffled scream sounds “like the mountains themselves threw a wet, lead blanket over chaos”) and three-dimensional characters. Not every reader will stick around until the action heats up, but supernatural thriller fans will find plenty to enjoy. Agent: Liz Parker, Verve Talent & Literary. (July)

Reviewed on 06/21/2024 | Details & Permalink

show more
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Forgot Password

Premium online access is only available to PW subscribers. If you have an active subscription and need to set up or change your password, please click here.

New to PW? To set up immediate access, click here.

NOTE: If you had a previous PW subscription, click here to reactivate your immediate access. PW site license members have access to PW’s subscriber-only website content. If working at an office location and you are not "logged in", simply close and relaunch your preferred browser. For off-site access, click here. To find out more about PW’s site license subscription options, please email Mike Popalardo at: mike@nextstepsmarketing.com.

To subscribe: click here.