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A Bloody Crime, a Mysterious Disappearance and the Long After

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THE LOST KINGS, by Tyrell Johnson


The trauma plot has become nearly inescapable, according to the critic Parul Sehgal. Writing in The New Yorker, Sehgal rightly rues the tyranny of a story line, found everywhere from television shows like “Ted Lasso” to literary autofiction, in which characters are given a PTSD diagnosis and “dispatched into the past, to truffle for trauma.”

Amid the gun violence of recent months, though, suspense novels with trauma plots seem less like escapist mysteries and more like how-to manuals for survival. How does a bystander cope with witnessing an act of extreme violence? In “The Lost Kings,” Tyrell Johnson’s excellent second novel, a woman investigates both a bloody crime and its long aftereffects on her own body and psyche.

Jeanie King, our protagonist, lives in Oxford but spent her childhood in a remote cabin on the coast of Washington State. One night, her father returns to the cabin with his hands soaked in blood, “like he was wearing gloves.” He then vanishes, leaving a note saying, “You’re better off without me.” Her twin brother, Jamie, disappears on the same night, leaving Jeanie anguished and alone.

“The Lost Kings” traces Jeanie’s inquiry into the night that severed her family, but Johnson’s deeper preoccupation seems to be with childhood: its mysteries, its freedoms, its end. He channels the voice of a young girl with depth and feeling, and an offbeat, appealing specificity. As children, Jeanie, her twin and their friend Maddox spend their days digging for geoducks in the sand, or, in one instance, soaking a tennis ball in gasoline, lighting it on fire and whacking it into the ocean. Johnson also captures the sense of threat that ripples through youth, the looming specter of a shadowy adult world full of unanswered questions. What did Jeanie’s father do on his military deployments? Why did her posh British mother decide to marry him? And why does he tell Jeanie to hide one night while he guards the front door with a rifle?

Later, as a student in Oxford, Jeanie memorizes a line from Flannery O’Connor: “Anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days.” Except Jeanie is missing crucial information about her own childhood, and without those facts she is reeling. When Maddox appears in Oxford with the news that he has found her father, Jeanie thinks, “Answers. I deserve answers.”

As the chapters shift back and forth in time, the tone switches from lyrical and atmospheric in the past to spiky and acidic in the present. In Oxford, Jeanie’s existence is stripped down to a narrow, isolated routine: working at a shop selling fancy ready-made dinners, sleeping with a married man and meeting with a therapist once a week. With apologies to real-life therapists, fictional therapists work tremendously well in thrillers, their trusted position ripe with the potential for betrayal. “I’m excited to work with you, Jeanie King,” says her therapist, and the scenes between them are electric and unsettling: Is Jeanie being healed or exploited for her lurid background?

Both her therapist and her father are complicated, slippery characters, and through Jeanie’s relationships with them, and her relationships with her married lover and her missing twin brother, the plot folds into a brilliant twist. “Can you feel him? Waiting in the wings. Not knowing he’s about to enter,” Jeanie says. “See him with his bright smile. His brown and silver hair.” The mystery of whom, exactly, she is describing is one of the novel’s truly surprising revelations.

For the book’s epigraph, Johnson chose lines from “Daddy,” by Sylvia Plath, a searing, vengeful poem: “The voices just can’t worm through. / If I’ve killed one man, I’ve killed two—.” Rage is how Jeanie King will survive.


Flynn Berry is the author of “Northern Spy,” “A Double Life” and “Under the Harrow.”


THE LOST KINGS, by Tyrell Johnson | 319 pp. | Anchor | $27

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Deals and Steals! Shop the 21 Best Cyber Week Finds Under $35

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Us Weekly has affiliate partnerships so we may receive compensation for some links to products and services.

The most wonderful time of year is finally here — and we don’t just mean the holidays! Cyber Week is a dream come true for bargain hunters everywhere. While temperature are dropping outside, prices are dropping online. It really is a winter wonderland!

With all of the deals on Black Friday and beyond, it’s overwhelming to narrow down the options. So, we went through the sales and selected our 21 top picks under $35, from fashion to furnishings. Save up to 79% off on these everyday essentials from some of your favorite retailers! Score these marked-down must-haves as a treat for yourself or as a gift for a loved one. Happy shopping!

1. Sweet dreams! Get your best beauty sleep with this super soft microfiber sheet set — up to 79% off!

2. Eyes on the prize! This creamy avocado eye treatment from Kiehl’s has been a regular in my skincare routine for years — up to 50% off!

3. Made from organic cotton, this waffle-print Henley shirt from Everlane is our go-to top for winter weather — up to 50% off!

4. Built to take you from running errands to running cardio, this comfy Perform Legging from Everlane is a must-have for gals on the go — up to 50% off!

5. With over 2,000 reviews on Nordstrom, this popular plush throw blanket is a cozy crowd-pleaser — up to 31% off!

6. It’s in the bag! This top-rated tumbled leather clutch from Madewell features interior pockets for extra organization — up to 43% off!

7. Cut a rug with this vintage-inspired patterned rug! The subtle pop of color blends into any space — up to 53% off!

8. Mad for plaid! This set of two decorative pillow covers is perfect for the holidays — up to 27% off!

9. Effortlessly cool in an oversized fit, this crew tee from Everlane is a closet staple — up to 30% off!

10. These gold under-eye patches are truly worth their weight in gold! Infused with collagen, these eye masks will give your puffy eyes a pick-me-up — up to 17% off!

11. Treat yourself to some self-care with these aromatherapy Shower Steamers that provide major stress relief — up to 46% off!

12. This Echo Dot smart speaker connects to Alexa so you can play music, check the news and set alarms from any room of your house — up to 63% off!

13. Get a good night’s sleep with these luxurious satin pillowcases! They’re the no. 1 bestseller in bed pillowcases on Amazon — up to 17% off!

14. The no. 1 bestseller in women’s down jackets and parkas on Amazon, this water-resistant hooded puffer coat will keep you warm and dry all winter — up to 45% off!

15. Lightweight and comfortable, this full-length waffle robe is wonderful for lounging around the house — up to 39% off!

16. Crafted with 100% cotton, this crewneck sweater is cozy and flattering — up to 45% off!

17. Reviewers rave that these terry cotton joggers are super soft and comfortable. Plus, they come with pockets — up to 45% off!

18. Sparkle and shine this holiday season with this cubic zirconia necklace that looks like a real diamond — up to 15% off!

19. And it was all yellow! These gold-plated topaz earrings will brighten your day — up to 15% off!

20. Earn your stripes in this trendy striped half-zip sweater — up to 45% off!

21. These fleece-lined house slippers feature an embroidered print that is perfect for winter — up to 42% off!

Looking for additional deals? Check out more picks below:

This post is brought to you by Us Weekly’s Shop With Us team. The Shop With Us team aims to highlight products and services our readers might find interesting and useful, such as wedding-guest outfits, purses, plus-size swimsuits, women’s sneakers, bridal shapewear, and perfect gift ideas for everyone in your life. Product and service selection, however, is in no way intended to constitute an endorsement by either Us Weekly or of any celebrity mentioned in the post.

The Shop With Us team may receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. In addition, Us Weekly receives compensation from the manufacturer of the products we write about when you click on a link and then purchase the product featured in an article. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product or service is featured or recommended. Shop With Us operates independently from advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback at ShopWithUs@usmagazine.com. Happy shopping!

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Atlantic Denies Using Bots to Juice Don Toliver, Other Artists’ Videos

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Mariah Carey Loves Christmas, Spoiling Her Kids After ‘Messed-Up’ Childhood

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Not always a Christmas queen. While Mariah Carey’s name has become synonymous with the festive holiday, her childhood wasn’t regal.

“I know a lot of the time people are like, ‘Oh, yay! Look at her! She’s, like, so festive and such a Christmas girl,’ or whatever. But, really, Christmas makes me happy. People think I had this princess-style life or whatever, a kind of fairy-tale existence where I just emerged, like, ‘Here I am!’ And that is not what it is,” Carey, 52 told magazine in a profile published on Friday, November 25.

She continued: “But when you grow up with a messed-up life and then you’re able to have this transformation where you can make your life what you want it to be? That is joy for me. That’s why I want my kids to have everything they can have. I want them to be able to understand that they can be anything they want to be.”

The “Without You” songstress became a mother in April 2011, welcoming twins Monroe and Moroccan with ex-husband Nick Cannon. (The Masked Singer host, 42, is also father to 9 other kids and is currently expecting baby No. 12, his second with Alyssa Scott.) As Carey and Cannon continue to coparent their twins, the Grammy Award winner goes all out for the holiday season.

“I create my own Christmas moment. I mean, Santa Claus visits us. He comes with his reindeer. I am not exaggerating — this is the truth,” the New York native told W. “By the way, before my kids were born, I did all the same types of things. That’s just how it is with me and Santa and the reindeer.”

She added: “I love giving them gifts because the act of opening up a ton of presents is something I wasn’t able to do as a child.”

The Meaning of Mariah Carey author kicked off her 2022 festivities with a rendition of “All I Want for Christmas Is You” during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday, November 24. As Carey crooned her hit song, the 11-year-olds made surprise cameos as they popped out of present boxes to dance alongside their mama.

“Happy Thanksgiving!!!🍁,” the Christmas Princess author wrote via Instagram on Thursday, sharing footage from the NBC broadcast. “Grateful and so proud of my beautiful kids Roc and Roe, grateful for the lambily and for the precious moments in life. ❤️❤️❤️ Now it’s reaaaallly time!!! 🎄🎅🏼.”

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