Baldacci (Hell's Corner, 2010, etc.) departs from thriller mode to pen this often-maudlin tale of familial reinvention.
Baldacci's muscle-bound style doesn't do subtle: He is best at choreographing fight scenes, rescues and dire brushes with severe weather, all of which, thankfully, are here in abundance. Overall, though, the stilted language and trite sentimentalism are yawn-inducing.
White (On Folly Beach) spins a convoluted story of unexplained disappearances and family secrets stretching from New Orleans to Biloxi, Miss. Five years after Katrina, New Yorker Julie Holt arrives in New Orleans with a mission: she's got a deed to a Biloxi beach house and surprise custody of Beau, her late friend Monica's five-year-old son, and she intends to introduce Beau to the extended family he's never met. Soon, with the help of Monica's grandmother, Aimee, and brother, Trey, Julie begins to piece together exactly why Monica left her home and family, and that Monica's family's secrets run deep and murky—they involve a murder, a famous painter, and a disappearance—which Julie can relate to, as her own sister was kidnapped when she was a child. Told in alternating chapters—Julie in the present, Aimee in the 1950s—as both women search for answers to their respective mysteries, the novel is slow moving and more confusingly teased out than the plot warrants, with White's descriptions of the gulf coast—and New Orleans in particular—offering more reason to keep reading than the less than expert treatment of the families' tormented pasts.
At the start of Slaughter's gripping third novel to combine characters from her two Georgia-based series (after Broken), Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent Faith Mitchell arrives at the Atlanta house of her widowed mother, Evelyn, to find serious trouble: her mother, a retired police captain, is missing; a dead man is lying on the laundry room floor; and an Asian man is holding her mother's pistol to a Hispanic man's head in Evelyn's bedroom. More violence follows. Faith's partner, Will Trent, tries to gather clues without stepping on any jurisdictional toes in the ensuing investigation, but Will fears that Evelyn's kidnapping is tied to a corruption scandal involving Evelyn's past as a narcotics officer, an angle he knows Faith doesn't want to consider. Will's deepening friendship with Dr. Sara Linton, currently working in an Atlanta E.R. and one of the few people able to crack his protective shell, adds depth. Family—biological, professional, and everything in between—plays a key role in a thriller sure to please Slaughter's many fans.