Beyond: A Ghost Story by Graham McNamee; Wendy Lamb Books, 226 pages ($15.99). Ages 12 and up.
This marvelous thriller is steeped in atmosphere, set in a small town on Canada’s Rain Coast where it’s nearly always raining (similar to the vampire-friendly, sunlight-deprived Forks, Wash., setting of the Twilight books). The tough, memorable heroine is Jane, who died at birth and was brought back to life. But in the 18 years since, she has had numerous unexplained brushes with death: poison, electrocution, a close call with a train and most lately a nailgun. As the novel begins, Jane has been found sleepwalking in the road so she must wear to bed a ring with a GPS microchip that sends a warning to her police officer-dad’s cell phone if she gets 10 feet from the house. Only her friend Lexi, an aspiring filmmaker, knows the truth: that Jane’s close calls have been the work of a strange shadow that seems to strike at seemingly random moments. But then Jane starts suffering vivid nightmares; do the nightmares have anything to do with the shadow - or with the boy who had gone missing 18 years before? The novel races to its thrilling finale, a wondrous mix of coming-of-age-tale, classic horror and murder mystery with a hint of romance.
McNamee, who lives on Canada’s “Rain Coast,” won the Edgar for Young Adult novel, “Acceleration.”
– Jean Westmoore
Phantom by Jo Nesbo; Knopf, 400 pages ($25.95)
Let it never be said that Jo Nesbo is afraid to take risks with his writing.
This is an author, after all, who gave us a device that forces victims to choke on their own blood. But Nesbo’s latest book, “Phantom,” is twisted in a more psychological way than his past novels.
“Phantom” once again features Harry Hole, the mentally tortured detective with a talent for catching serial killers. This time, Hole is on a more personal mission than usual.He returns to Oslo from self-exile in Hong Kong to prove that the son of the woman he loves is not a killer. The young man, Oleg, stands accused in the death of a fellow drug user, Gusto, who is a key narrator from beyond the grave. Harry, who views Oleg as his own son, simply cannot accept what the evidence says about him.
Hole takes a journey through Oslo’s drug world where a new, highly potent substance called violin is rapidly destroying lives. And this time Hole is pretty much on his own (he’s no longer a part of the police force), but yet he still has to deal with plenty of police and political bureaucracy.
There are many strands and characters in this multilayered novel, and that’s a strength and a weakness.
The many voices, the seemingly disparate events that ultimately lock together — such elements keep the reader hooked on Nesbo’s literary substance. But at times it’s like an overdose.
– Associated Press