Saturday, December 21, 2019

Kylie Brant

Kylie Brant is the author of more than forty novels, including Cold Dark Places in the Cady Maddix series, the Circle of Evil Trilogy, and the stand-alone novels Pretty Girls Dancing and Deep as the Dead. A three-time RITA Award nominee, five-time RT Award finalist, and two-time Daphne du Maurier Award winner, Brant is a member of the Romance Writers of America, including its Kiss of Death mystery and suspense chapter; Novelists, Inc.; and the International Thriller Writers. Her books have been published in thirty-four countries and have been translated into eighteen languages.

Brant's new novel is Down the Darkest Road.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Brant's reply:
Two of my favorite recent reads share something in common: they feature young boys as main characters, both of whom channel Huck Finn.

First was John Hart’s The Last Child. I’m always drawn to Hart’s beautiful prose and this book was no exception. But it’s the characters that breathe life to the story, and Jonny Merrimon is one who stayed with me long after I turned the last page. The thirteen-year-old boy’s twin sister disappeared the year before. His father left shortly after that. Now Jonny is obsessed with finding both of them and he’s searching door-to-door, in some very unsavory parts of town.

Detective Clyde Hunt is also haunted by the case, and hasn’t given up finding the girl. He learns of Jonny’s quest and tries to dissuade the boy from the search. But Jonny ends up supplying Hunt with necessary information that eventually reveals the tragic truth.

William Kent Krueger’s depression-era This Tender Land is simply a treasure. Four boys run away from Lincoln School, a facility where Native American children are forcibly sent to be educated. They’re accompanied by two girls who are suddenly orphaned. The children’s canoe journey on the Mississippi is reminiscent of Finn’s, and so is the contrast of their innocence and too-wise observations about the people they meet. Woven through the plot is the grim reality of life in the Depression, and treatment of Native Americans by the government. But it’s ultimately uplifting, with threads of forgiveness and redemption.

Jane Harper’s Australian-based atmospheric novels intrigue by using setting as another character in the novel. The Lost Man is no different. The slow-unfolding of the story is back-dropped against the remote Queensland outback. It begins with the horrific discovery of Cameron Bright found dead on the outskirts of the family property. His death is a mystery—his car is found several miles away in working order; he left it without taking food or water, and he never radioed for help. It’s left to his brother Nathan to discover what happened. Harper is brilliant with the slow-reveal structure, and I just wasn’t sure where this story was going to end up. She managed to surprise me with the conclusion, the mark of a very talented writer.

I’ve become a fan of Megan Miranda’s, because she always has a small cast of characters and still manages to provide twists to the plot. The Last Houseguest was no different. The unreliable narrator, Avery, has recently lost her parents and best friend in separate tragic accidents. Her friend’s wealthy family, the Lomax’s, agree to hire Avery to take care of their string of resort cottages in a Maine beach town. Told in alternate time-lines, it shifts seamlessly between past and present, revealing clues and secrets at every turn. The slow-reveal format worked for me, as did the unexpected ending.
Read more about Kylie Brant's work at her website.

The Page 69 Test: Down the Darkest Road.

My Book, The Movie: Down the Darkest Road.

--Marshal Zeringue