Though its prose is merely serviceable and its characters stereotypical, this intricate thriller from de Castrique (The...

THE 13TH TARGET

A bodyguard turns shamus when his charge is the victim of a suspicious shooting.

An oblique prologue involving an anonymous superrich cabal hints at a grand plot involving the Federal Reserve and the upcoming national election. Cut to Russell Mullins, working as a bodyguard for besieged Reserve executive Paul Luguire after many years protecting presidents as a member of the Secret Service. Mullins feels a strong affinity for the slightly older Luguire, who is clearly showing the stress of his position. When Mullins gets a late-night call that Luguire has been shot and killed, the news hits him hard. He's loath to cooperate with Arlington Police Detective Robert Sullivan, especially when the investigator won't tell him any details about the shooting. Meanwhile, the enigmatic Fares Khoury decides to "wait for the man named Russell Mullins to come to him." Mullins vents to his boss, Ted Lewison, then consults his colleague Amanda Church, also ex-Secret Service, and finally decides to investigate with her assistance. Already on this course is dogged investigative reporter Sidney Levine of The Washington Times, who smells a huge story. A key piece in the complex puzzle is banker Craig Archer, who has noticed irregularities in recent transactions and becomes very stressed indeed when an anonymous caller begins making demands. As he twists in the wind, Levine and Mullins begin to share some of the discoveries that will lead to the truth.

Though its prose is merely serviceable and its characters stereotypical, this intricate thriller from de Castrique (The Sandburg Connection, 2011, etc.) offers a good deal of interesting and timely information on the Federal Reserve.

Pub Date: July 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59058-615-0

Page Count: 306

Publisher: Poisoned Pen

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

Brisk and businesslike, Turnbull’s latest in the series proves a worthy addition to his reliable franchise.

THE ALTERED CASE

Two old friends stir up a hornet’s nest when they report a murder they witnessed as schoolboys.

DC Reginald Webster can hardly believe that two middle-aged businessmen would make up such a tale. So when Cyrus Middleton and Tony Allerton come in to report discovering a newly dug grave in a field close to the village of Catton Hill, Webster’s boss, DCI George Hennessey (Aftermath, 2011, etc.), has no choice but to investigate. Problem is, Middleton and Allerton found the grave back when they were 15. Sure enough, in a field owned by irascible landlord Thomas Farrent, Hennessey’s men dig up five skeletons. Four are alike enough to be a family, similarly short in stature. The fifth is taller and perhaps unrelated. Slogging through 30-year-old missing-persons cold cases, DC Carmen Pharoah reads about the Parrs: father, mother and two adult daughters who disappeared from the posh King Henry Hotel at about the right time. But why did the Parrs leave their bohemian home in Camden Town for the Vale of York? Who was the taller girl traveling with them? And most important: Who wanted these gentle, harmless people dead? While Hennessey’s team struggles for answers, Farrant’s wife goes missing, adding a new urgency to the decades-old puzzle.

Brisk and businesslike, Turnbull’s latest in the series proves a worthy addition to his reliable franchise.

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7278-8154-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Severn House

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

Vish Puri’s third outing continues the tradition of Hall’s lively franchise.

THE CASE OF THE DEADLY BUTTER CHICKEN

India’s Most Private Investigator faces threats from near and far as he grapples with the death of a Pakistani cricket-ace’s father.

The butter chicken served at the VVIP table of the Delhi Durbar Hotel promises to be most delicious. It also proves fatal. One bite and Faheem Khan keels over dead. Fortunately, one of the VVIPs is Vish Puri (The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing, 2010, etc.), invited with his wife and Mummy-ji by his nephew Rohan of the Delhi Cowboys to a post-match feast. His presence on the scene prompts Sir James Scott, working for the Indian Cricket Board, to hire him to investigate. Unfortunately, Faheem’s son Kamran, bowler for the Kolkata Colts, has gone back to Rawalpindi to mourn. So Puri, who had never met a Pakistani in person before the Khans, must travel across a most-feared border in pursuit of justice. His dread of being in Pakistan is soon replaced by the terror of learning that Mummy, who pretends to be on a mission to bury the ashes of Ritu Auntie’s late husband in the Ganges at the holy city of Haridwar, is actually investigating Khan’s death too. While Vish focuses on a point-shaving scheme as an obvious motive, Mummy zeroes in on her fellow VVIPs. But what could the elderly mother of Satish Bhatia, the Call Center King, or Mrs. Megha Dogra, wife of Ram Dogra, the Prince of Polyester, know about the murder of an elderly Pakistani?

Vish Puri’s third outing continues the tradition of Hall’s lively franchise.

Pub Date: July 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4516-1315-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

Louie’s 23rd (Cat in a Vegas Gold Vendetta, 2011, etc.) brings together many of the characters beloved by loyal fans, along...

CAT IN A WHITE TIE AND TAILS

Midnight Louie, Las Vegas’ toughest, shortest, darkest detective, is kidnapped, or catnapped, during a trip to Chicago.

Louie, who shares an apartment with PR person Temple Barr, accompanies her and her fiance, radio advice star Matt Devine, on a trip to meet his dysfunctional family. How dysfunctional? Well, Matt’s trying to promote his mother’s marriage to the brother of his real father, another scion of a wealthy Chicago family. Abducted by thugs trying to get something Matt’s creepy deceased stepfather may have left with his mother, the resourceful feline escapes with the help of some local talent. Back in Vegas, Temple’s former squeeze, ex-magician Max Kinsella, whom she thought had died in a magic trick gone wrong, has been hired by tough homicide lieutenant C.R. Molina to investigate a string of unsolved murders. Max, who’s lost his memory and his father figure in a series of wild escapades in Europe involving the Irish Republican Army, is getting help from Rafi Nadir, Molina’s former boyfriend and the father of her child, as he infiltrates what’s left of the mysterious group of magicians known as the Synth. Even the stone-cold killer Kitty the Cutter may have returned from the dead to involve herself in their affairs. Louie and his partner in crime Midnight Louise must enlist many of their feline pals to keep track of all the possible killers if he’s to protect Temple, Matt and Max.

Louie’s 23rd (Cat in a Vegas Gold Vendetta, 2011, etc.) brings together many of the characters beloved by loyal fans, along with enough loose threads to knit a sizable blanket. Will they all be tied up when Douglas reaches the end of the series?

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7653-2747-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Forge

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

First in a planned series inspired by the author’s many trips to France. The mystery is less complex than the heroine, who’s...

CHAMPAGNE: THE FAREWELL

An NYPD detective, in France to attend a wedding, finds herself investigating a murder as well.

Max Maguire, the daughter of a legendary NYPD detective, has spent her life trying to replace the brother who was killed in an accident. The reluctant sleuth is half French, but her mother’s aristocratic family disowned her when she married an Irish cop. Even during her school years in France, Max avoided them. Now she’s visiting the gorgeous Marne Valley, an area known for producing champagne, for her school friend Chloé Marceau’s wedding at the family’s estate. Ever since the death of her much older spouse, Chloé’s beautiful aunt, Léa de Saint-Pern, has run the family vineyards and champagne company. But that ends when she’s found dead late on the night of the wedding. Marceau family friend Olivier Chaumont, a sophisticated examining magistrate, becomes Max’s lover and even more unwilling partner in solving the murder. Max soon learns that several people had been interested in buying Léa out, among them a German whose French father was a collaborator during the war. Marc, Chloé’s new husband, is an ambitious young man with plenty of ideas of his own who’s worked for Léa. His mother is a woman of mystery; his father is unknown. Chloé’s alcoholic uncle, the first police suspect, is the second victim. Max and Olivier combine their many talents to root among long-buried family secrets to catch a killer.

First in a planned series inspired by the author’s many trips to France. The mystery is less complex than the heroine, who’s nearly as appealing as the descriptions of the wine district.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4642-0077-9

Page Count: 294

Publisher: Poisoned Pen

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

Another delicious romp through a French menu garnished with politics.

THE CROWDED GRAVE

A terrorist is introduced to Dordogne foie gras.

St. Denis Chef de Police Benoît “Bruno” Courrèges (Black Diamond, 2011, etc.) has his hands full. An unidentified corpse shot some 20 years ago has been found at the site of an archaeological dig. Two of the foreign students there, Teddy and Kajte, may be involved in a case of animal-rights vandalism. And a secret summit meeting of Spanish and French ministers may be targeted by Basque terrorists. While Bruno’s English girlfriend Pamela flies home to deal with her mother’s stroke and her ex-husband, Bruno’s former Paris-based girlfriend Isabelle, recovering from a wound inflicted on the job, returns to St. Denis with other governmental bigwigs to supervise the summit. PETA leaflets appear. Dynamite caches are rifled. A Spanish minister’s car blows up. The German archaeology professor responsible for the dig disappears. Teddy and Kajte scamper off. Worse, the farmers raising ducks for foie gras loathe the new magistrate, who thinks eating the stuff is barbaric. Then clues to that old cadaver crop up, indicating ties to the SS, the Baader-Meinhof Group and the Red Army Faktion. Cover stories are uncovered. Good guys turn out to be bad. Bruno’s longtime companion, a basset hound, dies a heroic death. And Bruno manages to deal with everything and still have time to make a mouthwatering lamb stew, savor a Perigord foie gras snack and enjoy a really nice glass or two of wine.

Another delicious romp through a French menu garnished with politics.

Pub Date: July 6, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-70019-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

Although Tonkin forgoes his usual maritime action, he energetically describes the wielding of weapons and fists in another...

DARK HEART

Richard and Robin Mariner are drawn into the deadly civil war of a turbulent West African nation.

The small country of Benin la Bas is notable mostly for its dense forests and the ultrarare orchid known as the Ghost. Tyrannical President Liye Banda has seized this tropical paradise, but the freedom-fighting army of Gen. Dr. Julius Chaka has constantly challenged his rule. Part of Chaka's campaign several years ago (Benin Light, 2008) involved the kidnappings of Robin Mariner and Anastasia Asov, the best friend of Chaka's daughter, Celine, as bargaining chips. Politics makes strange bedfellows, however, and now, four years into the new administration, Robin and her husband, Richard, an international industrialist and avid seaman, are attending a celebration for Chaka in Benin la Bas and even considering financial support for the struggling country. While the Mariners rub elbows with other wealthy guests at the Presidential Palace in Granville Harbour, Celine and Anastasia, who are working at a jungle hospital and school in the far north of the nation, come under siege from a terrorist group called the Army of Christ the Infant. Its child soldiers, led by the terrifying Gen. Nlong, have already killed the hospital and school's leader, the Rev. Antoine. Fortified by their experience in the previous coup, Anastasia and Celine try to organize the workers, nuns and students to fight back, but they need reinforcements. Will the Mariners arrive in time?

Although Tonkin forgoes his usual maritime action, he energetically describes the wielding of weapons and fists in another solid adventure with a dash of current world events.

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7278-8165-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Severn House

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

Hall’s second begins where her first leaves off, mixing straight-up procedural with a dose of local color.

DEATH TRAP

Life in ’60s London continues to challenge a young photographer from Liverpool.

Nothing the police did in handling the murder of her gay brother’s flatmate (Dead Beat, 2011) did much to inspire Kate O’Donnell’s confidence. So she’s reluctant to call them when she sees two thugs with a dog harassing the middle-aged couple downstairs. She knows that the landlord wants to clear the Argyll Gardens building so that he can chop up the three flats into tiny apartments to rent to Notting Hill’s growing West Indian community. When a West Indian neighbor is arrested on scant evidence in the killing of a young prostitute, however, Kate has no choice but to call DS Harry Barnard of the Soho vice squad. Barnard’s soft spot for Kate has been clear ever since he ran interference for her in her brother’s case. Despite some misgivings about her involvement with Nelson Mackintosh, who’s already annoyed the local bobbies by speaking up for West Indian rights, he puts her in touch with Eddie Lamb, his counterpart in the Notting Hill CID. DS Lamb insists that Mackintosh is their man. But a death in Kate’s building makes him think twice, especially when she hears that shady real estate developer Lazlo Roman is interested in the Argyll Gardens property. And when more shady characters threaten Kate for taking pictures around Portobello Road, it looks as if Harry’s worries may be all too justified.

Hall’s second begins where her first leaves off, mixing straight-up procedural with a dose of local color.

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-78029-022-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Creme de la Crime

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

Having Death as her tipster makes sleuthing easier for Casey (Flowers for Her Grave, 2011, etc.), whose latest adventure...

DYING ECHO

A woman with a dark past must confront her demons to save her brother from a murder charge.

Ever since a fiery car crash claimed her husband and son, Death has been Casey Maldonado’s constant companion. Now she returns to her Colorado hometown in the hope of clearing the name of her brother Ricky, who stands accused of brutally murdering his girlfriend, Alicia McManus. Alicia, a greasy-spoon waitress with no verifiable background, was obviously hiding from something in her past. The cops have no interest in looking further, especially since someone has obligingly framed Ricky by hiding a bloody shirt and incriminating documents in his apartment. Death gives Casey a tip that helps her and her friend Eric, who’s come after her despite her efforts to put him off, track Alicia to a small Texas town. There, they discover that 14-year-old Elizabeth Mann, aka Alicia, had vanished on the very day her father was murdered. Though she was never a serious suspect, she’d apparently been on the run for years until whatever she was running from finally caught up with her. Elizabeth’s family, including her look-alike cousin, remain in town, but although Elizabeth and her father had been living in his car ever since he lost his job, none of them has any idea who wanted him dead. Casey and Eric, accompanied by the ever-present Death, ask many questions and go through the detritus of the past until they find a motive that can lead them to the killers.

Having Death as her tipster makes sleuthing easier for Casey (Flowers for Her Grave, 2011, etc.), whose latest adventure provides mystery, romance and the hope that she’ll get her life back together.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4642-0021-2

Page Count: 310

Publisher: Poisoned Pen

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

As usual (The Queen of Patpong, 2010, etc.), the real star of the show is the hero’s hometown. As Rafferty observes,...

THE FEAR ARTIST

A dead man who crumples onto his lap pulls travel writer Poke Rafferty once more down into Bangkok’s dank underbelly.

In an uncharacteristic burst of domestic energy, Rafferty is just emerging from a store, lugging cans of paint destined for the walls of the apartment he shares with his wife, Rose, and their adopted daughter, Miaow, when he collides first with a crowd of pedestrians streaming down the road, then with an American gent who collapses on top of him, recovers just enough to say, “Helen Eckersley. Cheyenne,” and dies. Police deny that the American was shot, ascribe the copious blood on the scene to a nosebleed, and take Rafferty in. Questioned by the distinctly hostile Maj. Shen, Rafferty inconveniently forgets the name the dying American was at such pains to get out. It’s a costly gap in his story, one that brings down the wrath of Shen and sends police to ransack his place and frame him for the murder of a stranger whose name he still doesn’t know. Forced to send Rose and Miaow into hiding and to go on the run himself in the city he’s made his home, Rafferty gets help from his friends Arthit, a recently widowed police officer, and Dr. Ratt, who hides him from official scrutiny in a truly ingenious way. But in order to get the goods on Haskell Murphy, the ex-soldier he’s convinced is behind the murder, Rafferty will have to deal with the world’s most untrustworthy trio of spies, delve into a particularly ugly chapter in the Vietnam War and take some hellacious chances with his personal safety.

As usual (The Queen of Patpong, 2010, etc.), the real star of the show is the hero’s hometown. As Rafferty observes, “Bangkok may not be glamorous…but it’s got lurid down cold.”

Pub Date: July 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-61695-112-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Soho Crime

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

Coffin's third (Mating Season, 2009, etc.) has a smart, easy feel, a large cast of likable characters and snappy dialogue.

FIRE SEASON

A prolific firebug shatters the peace of Provincetown's normally calm offseason.

Seals are a quirky tourist attraction for customers of Yaya's Greek Restaurant. So why is someone massacring them? When detective Frank Coffin and uniformed deputy Lola Winters investigate, Yaya's owner, Stecopoulos, blames some annoyed drag queens for the seal killings, but after questioning them, Coffin finds that an unlikely theory. Though tourist season's just ended and Provincetown should be quiet, Coffin, who's doubling as police chief until a replacement can be found, has his hands full, as he regularly reminds his levelheaded ladylove, Jamie, who keeps him on an even keel. A mysterious arsonist is setting mostly innocuous fires, most recently in a dumpster behind Rossi's Package Store. Starting with a vague description of a white male fleeing the dumpster and some research, Coffin begins to assemble a profile. The case takes a more serious turn with the burning of a two-story building in a prominent part of town. Experts don't buy Coffin's theory that there's a copycat at work. A suspect emerges, but without probable cause, Coffin can't get into his home to search for evidence. The rash of arson starts to seem like a petty nuisance when someone from The Fish Palace calls Coffin to report a head floating in the lobster tank. The victim is Dr. Branstool, the unpopular head of Valley View Nursing Home. Coffin can only hope the arsonist will take a break so he can solve the homicide.

Coffin's third (Mating Season, 2009, etc.) has a smart, easy feel, a large cast of likable characters and snappy dialogue.

Pub Date: July 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-312-66813-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

Castro’s first mystery is fierce and intense, with both harrowing depictions of New Orleans after Katrina and psychological...

HELL OR HIGH WATER

Salvaging lives in post-Katrina New Orleans is no picnic.

Nola Céspedes is fed up with the puff pieces she’s assigned at the Times-Picayune. So when she’s given a shot at a major feature story—how well do rehabilitated sex offenders do when released back into the community?—she goes all-out, even nudging her friend Calinda over in the district attorney’s office for unpublicized details concerning the recent rape and mutilation of a young tourist. Her choice of which serial rapists to interview is as dangerous as her choice of one-night stands. Nola is so driven, argumentative and protectively secretive about her upbringing in the tawdry Desire Projects that her gay housemate Uri suggests therapy. But she’s too busy preparing for a wedding and meeting her mother’s female lover for the first time. Her stress escalates when another young girl goes missing, and she becomes even more promiscuous, more argumentative, more out of control and more worried about one of her interviewees, a former vice principal who seems overly interested in the young girl she’s mentoring and the female students playing in the school courtyard across from his apartment. Nola’s final attempt to deal with the sordidness surrounding her brings death and a start at reclaiming her own past.

Castro’s first mystery is fierce and intense, with both harrowing depictions of New Orleans after Katrina and psychological mayhem for its troubled heroine, who crawls under your skin and lingers there long after you’ve finished reading. A sequel is in the works.

Pub Date: July 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-250-00457-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

The mob intrigue, as is customary with Rosenfelt (On Borrowed Time, 2011, etc.), is unconvincing, and, despite the title,...

LEADER OF THE PACK

Dog-loving Andy Carpenter, Paterson, New Jersey's gift to the criminal bar, gets another chance at a murder case he lost six years earlier.

Not even Joey Desimone disputes that his father, Carmine, runs one of central New Jersey’s dominant crime families, or that Joey carried on an adulterous affair with Karen Solarno, or that he was angry and hurt when she broke it off to give her marriage another shot. But Joey vigorously disputed prosecutor Dylan Campbell’s accusation that he rang the Solarnos’ doorbell and gunned down Karen and her husband, Richard. Despite Andy’s best efforts, Joey’s story didn’t sway a jury of his peers, and he’s already done six years of his life sentence when Andy, following an unwitting tip he’s gotten from Carmine’s aging brother and enforcer Nicky Fats, realizes that Richard Solarno was up to his gizzard in gunrunning and that a group of his clients, paramilitary survivalists who deemed a shipment he supplied short on firepower, had threatened his life—facts that Lt. Kyle Wagner of the Montana State Police not only knew, but duly reported to Dylan Campbell six years ago. Even Henry “Hatchet” Henderson, the irascible judge who seems to preside over all Andy’s trials (Dog Tags, 2010, etc.), acknowledges that the prosecution’s concealment of such exculpatory evidence constitutes grounds for a new trial. If only the trail weren’t so cold—and cooling further every day, thanks to the executions of Nicky Fats, Carmine and associates as far away as Peru at the hands of Simon Ryerson, a Harvard MBA who thinks the time is ripe for a hostile takeover of the Desimone empire and doesn’t mind stepping on Joey’s toes in order to close the deal.

The mob intrigue, as is customary with Rosenfelt (On Borrowed Time, 2011, etc.), is unconvincing, and, despite the title, there’s not much for dog fanciers this time around. But Andy is as effervescent as ever, and the courtroom byplay is consistently entertaining.

Pub Date: July 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-312-64804-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

Laurie’s latest in the series (Vision Impossible, 2011, etc.) brings Abby back to her circle of friends. Fans will cheer her...

LETHAL OUTLOOK

Further adventures of a psychic private investigator as she pursues her life’s goals of solving mysteries and keeping her money out of the swear jar.

Abby Cooper is the most successful psychic private investigator in town, although technically she’s the only one in town. She and her closest friend and business partner Candice Fusco imagine they’ve built a reputation for themselves over the years. Although local law enforcement is more than a little dubious of Abby’s job description, they’re willing to cooperate with Candice because of her more feminine charms. The pair need help from the local law when a mysterious Ms. Smith contacts Abby in order to secure her help with a client who’s retained her law services. Abby’s more than game to help, but the elusive Ms. Smith refuses to disclose her client’s name or even describe the case. Abby and Candice figure the client must be the husband of Kendra Moreno. The high-profile case of the woman who mysteriously disappeared and left her young son alone in the house has been splashed all over the news. Unfortunately, when Abby starts to investigate, it seems as though she’s not the only one with an eye on the case. Lucky for Abby, her fiancé, Dutch Rivers, makes it his mission to protect her. But can he save her from what may be the biggest threat of all: the wedding-planning attentions of her sister, Cat?

Laurie’s latest in the series (Vision Impossible, 2011, etc.) brings Abby back to her circle of friends. Fans will cheer her fast-talking return.

Pub Date: July 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-451-23695-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Obsidian

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

A valiant hero to root for, a vividly rendered small-town setting, lots of expertly managed violence: another crowd-pleaser...

THE LOST ONES

Atkins’ sequel to The Ranger (2011) finds Quinn Colson counting the ways in which his Afghanistan tours resemble life in the nice little Mississippi town that’s just elected him sheriff.

Begin with the complicated matter of identifying “friendlies.” What with turf wars and hidden agendas, not all law enforcement people march in lock step, Quinn discovers. Long legs, pretty red hair and an FBI power suit, for instance, do not, for sure, an ally make. They can signal one thing, then its opposite, and sometimes both simultaneously—mixed signals with the potential for dangerous, even deadly confusion. Along those same lines, an old pal with whom Quinn once happily tormented the juvenile authorities of Tibbehah County, Miss., now travels a crooked path to nowhere and can no longer be trusted. On the other hand, it’s a good bet that even Afghanistan might never be able to duplicate the homegrown nastiness of Johnny Stagg, the bottom feeder Quinn replaced as sheriff, and about whom the usually even-tempered, essence-of-cool Quinn is heard to say, “I’d like to punch Johnny Stagg in the throat.” Whether the business is dismal enough—and profitable enough—depends on ex-sheriff Stagg being somehow near the core of it. And suddenly Tibbehah County is rife with dismal profitable opportunities. There’s gunrunning activity involving bloodthirsty Mexican cartels, a thriving cottage industry in baby-selling, and more, all of which keeps Sheriff Quinn stepping briskly to keep up. Add to this a full familial plate: His wayward kid sister has unexpectedly returned. To reclaim the little boy she left in Quinn’s charge? Good, hard-to-answer question. So, with his own agenda piled high and spilling over every which way, it’s entirely possible that from time to time Quinn might ask himself if Afghanistan was…well…quite as singular as he’d thought.

A valiant hero to root for, a vividly rendered small-town setting, lots of expertly managed violence: another crowd-pleaser from a thriller-meister at the top of his game.

Pub Date: June 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-399-15876-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

Stuart’s third (The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise, 2010, etc.) continues her exploration of famous English historic...

THE PIGEON PIE MYSTERY

Her Highness Princess Alexandrina is forced by circumstances to make a new life for herself, and deal with new death, after the passing of her father, His Highness the Maharaja of Prindur.

His kingdom stolen by the British, the Maharaja is taken to England where, as a favorite of Queen Victoria, he marries an Englishwoman and spends his life brooding on the loss of the family jewels. His scandalous death in the arms of another young woman makes life difficult for his daughter Alexandrina, known as Mink, who is lucky to be awarded a grace-and-favor apartment at Hampton Court Palace, which is reputed to be haunted by ghosts. Once Mink and her Indian servant Pooki move into the moldering apartment, they meet a diverse and zany group: the obnoxious Maj. Gen. Bagshot and his wife, several military relics, the Keeper of the Maze, the Keeper of the Great Vine and Dr. Henderson, who falls for Mink. When a picnic is proposed, Pooki is asked to make a pigeon pie, a favorite of Bagshot’s. Soon after enjoying the treat, Bagshot dies—apparently from cholera, until an anonymous letter suggesting otherwise provokes a postmortem that turns up arsenic. Mink must unmask the real killer if she is to clear Pooki. As she questions her new acquaintances, Mink discovers many secrets. But are any of them a motive for murder?

Stuart’s third (The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise, 2010, etc.) continues her exploration of famous English historic sites. Quirky characters, a feisty protagonist, a clever mystery and the requisite historical tidbits combine for an amusing read.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-53556-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

The latest mystery-thriller for Ike (Rogue, 2011, etc.) provides all the fast-paced action and danger readers have come to...

SCONE ISLAND

An eagerly awaited vacation on a quiet Maine island becomes a nightmare for a former CIA agent and his significant other.

Ike Schwartz is currently the sheriff of Picketsville, Va., where his longtime love, university president Ruth Dennis, is recovering from a nasty incident that put her in a coma. Both of them manifestly need some peace. So when Ruth inherits her aunt’s house on Scone Island, they sneak off for some R&R. Four miles off the Maine coast, Scone has no electricity, phone service or even reliable water. But it does have a recent death, the suspicious fall from a cliff of mystery man Harmon Staley. While Ike is looking into the death of Staley, who was once his colleague, another of his old pals from the CIA is desperately seeking him. Charlie Garland, cut out of a secret operation by his boss, has learned that someone is killing CIA agents who once had worked on several cases with Ike, and he's convinced that Ike is next on the list. After snooping around on Scone and a nearby uninhabited island once used by the Coast Guard, Ike thinks he’s found the motive for Staley’s murder. Now he and Ruth may have to fight a pitched battle against unknown enemies from his past to survive.

The latest mystery-thriller for Ike (Rogue, 2011, etc.) provides all the fast-paced action and danger readers have come to expect.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4642-0053-3

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Poisoned Pen

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

Not even Andrews (The Real Macaw, 2011, etc.) can sustain the comic inspiration of her wacky opening premise for an entire...

SOME LIKE IT HAWK

Ornamental blacksmith Meg Langslow seeks a killer who committed his dastardly deed in the basement of her hometown’s courthouse, while the building’s ownership is very much up for grabs.

Nothing, it seems, can throw Caerphilly, Va., off its reliably eccentric rhythm. Ex-mayor George Pruitt may have mortgaged the town’s public buildings to First Progressive Financial, LLC (aka Evil Lender) and embezzled the cash he raised; FPF may be threatening to foreclose on the collateral if its demands for the town to annex some choice private property through eminent domain and turn it over to FPF aren’t met; town clerk Phineas K. Throckmorton may have barricaded himself in the courthouse basement in protest over a year ago. The locals simply close ranks behind Phinny, refusing to tell FPF’s private eye Stanley Denton about the tunnel through which they’re taking food to the embattled clerk and doing their best to protect his 11 remaining pigeons from the hawk FPF has set on them. All would be perfectly normal, or at least what passes for normal in Caerphilly, if someone didn’t shoot FPF vice president Colleen Brown dead only a few yards from Phinny’s barricade. It’s an obvious attempt to frame the clerk and flush him out of the courthouse, but which of FPF’s many minions is responsible? Before Meg can celebrate the Fourth of July by answering that question, she’ll have to deal with a litigious ecdysiast mime, a uniformed security force everyone calls the Flying Monkeys and a crime scene inspector whose preferred apparel is a gorilla suit.

Not even Andrews (The Real Macaw, 2011, etc.) can sustain the comic inspiration of her wacky opening premise for an entire volume, but it sure is fun to watch her try.

Pub Date: July 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-250-00750-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

Murder is definitely at the back of the house in Poppy’s second case, with jousting between exes firmly planted in the front.

STICK A FORK IN IT

From the Poppy Markham: Culinary Cop series , Vol. 2

A health inspector finds murder in an over-the-top concept restaurant.

Who says vegetarians don’t really like food? Texas vegan Poppy Markham has built her life around edibles. As the daughter of Mitch Markham, owner of Markham’s Grille & Cocktails, she earned her chops as head chef. But after a fellow employee set her bedroom on fire (If You Can’t Stand the Heat, 2011), Poppy traded her toque for a job with the food police, issuing permits for the myriad eateries dotting Austin’s culinary scene. The very latest food venture, she discovers, is being built by two of Poppy’s high school classmates, ex-football stars Troy and Todd Sharpe. The jocks have a bizarre twist: offer guests a choice of the last meals enjoyed by a variety of criminals shortly before their executions. But their grisly plan takes an even more grisly turn when Poppy checks out their three-part sink and finds Troy dangling from the second-floor catwalk. Investigating Troy’s death is just the break Poppy needs from trying to patch things up with food critic Jamie Sherwood, who sent their relationship into a nose dive by sleeping with another woman. She also has to mull the return of her ex-fiance, Drew Cooper, who abruptly disappeared into the blue yonder years back, obliging her to fall in love with perfidious Jamie. Now that Mitch has hired Drew as general manager at Markham’s, where Poppy’s temperamental stepsister Ursula has her eyes all over him, the need to keep a delicate balance between two gorgeous but unreliable guys makes solving a murder look as easy to Poppy as inspecting a hot dog stand.

Murder is definitely at the back of the house in Poppy’s second case, with jousting between exes firmly planted in the front.

Pub Date: July 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7387-2795-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Midnight Ink/Llewellyn

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

A grim manor-house mystery with English upper-class decor and a present-day noir sensibility.

THE STRANGE FATE OF KITTY EASTON

Grief, not love, yokes people together in the aftermath of the Great War.

Thirteen years ago, little Kitty, just 5 years old, disappeared from her bedroom in Easton Hall, never to be seen again. Her widowed mother, Lydia, wasting away into madness, still thinks she’s alive. Nobody else does, especially not her brother-in-law Patrick, who on that long-ago night thought he saw Lydia and Julian, her other brother-in-law, disposing of bloodstained linens. Also on hand and mired in despondency are Lydia’s half sister Frances and William Bolitho, an architect mutilated in the war come to oversee Lydia’s pet project, the installation of a stained-glass window in the family church and a maze meant to commemorate both the wartime loss of her husband, Digby, and the disappearance of their child. Rounding out the circle are Bolitho’s wife and caregiver Eleanor, their son Nicholas and Laurence Bartram (The Return of Captain John Emmett, 2011), who’s been asked by Bolitho to assist him. Bartram, still grieving over his lost love, Mary, and the deaths of his wife and unborn child, is appalled to witness a liaison between Eleanor and Patrick and to find a dead body in a vault under the chapel floor. Are the remains those of a serving girl gone missing at the Wembley exhibition? The unacknowledged wife of jack-of-all-trades David, a wartime companion of Julian? Or Kitty? As secret liaisons unfold and fired help are relocated, Bartram and Patrick almost perish in the estate’s original underground maze, and a final twist discloses the truth about Kitty, which becomes yet another secret that will be kept from most of the Hall residents and villagers in Easton Deadall.

A grim manor-house mystery with English upper-class decor and a present-day noir sensibility.

Pub Date: June 26, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-547-54752-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

Regan (Brotherhood of Blades, 2011, etc.) continues her sure-footed walk on the noir side. Entertaining stuff, but not for...

STREET GIRLS

Street girls walk, street gangs war—it’s all business as usual, thinks DI Georgia Johnston, except for an unsettling surge in South London’s murder rate.

Three underage hookers are slaughtered within hours of each other. Has someone’s pathology gotten out of hand? Or is this the grisly aftermath of a major shift in gangland’s power structure? Is Yo-Yo Reilly, feared chieftain of the vicious Brotherhood gang (“And we all know sadism is his favorite pastime”) not quite as feared as he once was? These are gnarly questions with answers that branch out in multiple directions. So it makes sense for Georgia’s boss to call in an expert in gang warfare like DI David Dawes for aid and advice. But Georgia just plain doesn’t like or trust Dawes, a lack of sympathy noticeably mutual. Is it possible that her boss, whom she does like, and who begins the street-girl case by naming her senior officer in charge, is now having second thoughts? Georgia seems to find secrets, lies and hidden agendas wherever she turns. Nor does it help the least little bit when Lucy, the brave and brainy teenage daughter of a close friend and colleague, decides impetuously to consider police work as a career opportunity. She’s both dead right to do so and very nearly dead (literally) as a consequence.

Regan (Brotherhood of Blades, 2011, etc.) continues her sure-footed walk on the noir side. Entertaining stuff, but not for the fainthearted.

Pub Date: June 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-78029-021-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Creme de la Crime

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

A fast and furious novel from Vonnegut (The Gods of Greenwich, 2011, etc.) and a guaranteed good time.

THE TRUST

Mommas, don’t let your sons grow up to be Manhattan brokers or board members of charitable foundations. They’d never survive the combination of criminal plots and personal threats.

When Grove O’Rourke takes a call from Palmer Kincaid, his old mentor and his biggest client, he can tell that the old man is more than worried. But he doesn’t catch the next plane to Kincaid’s home in Charleston, S.C. As a result, he has to make the trip anyway for Palmer’s funeral after he’s killed in a convenient one-person boating accident. Smarting with guilt, Grove agrees to join Palmer’s daughter Claire, 33, and his second wife JoJo, 39, on the board of the Palmetto Foundation, which Palmer launched and headed. Another mistake. Katy Anders, Grove’s boss at Sachs, Kidder and Carnegie, is anything but supportive. And the very first item of business before the Foundation, a transfer of $65 million donated by the Catholic Fund to the Foundation for relief work in the Philippines, raises Grove’s hackles. He’s taken aback by dogged Fayetteville lawyer Biscuit Hughes’ revelation that the Catholic Fund owns Highly Intimate Pleasures, an adult novelty superstore, and he doesn’t trust Father Frederick Ricardo, the fast-talking Maryknoll priest who’s pressing for the transfer. Just to keep the pressure up, Grove learns that Morgan Stanley Dean Witter is poised to purchase his division at SKC and that Isabelle Torres of the FBI is dogging his every move and demanding he spill everything he knows about the Foundation. And that’s all before JoJo is kidnapped by someone demanding $200 million—virtually all the Foundation’s assets—for her safe return.

A fast and furious novel from Vonnegut (The Gods of Greenwich, 2011, etc.) and a guaranteed good time.

Pub Date: July 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-250-01477-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

Suspense and romance, though not much mystery, meet in Price’s debut, first in a planned series.

TWISTED VINES

An unexpected inheritance gives recently widowed Ohio crime analyst Caitlyn Tilson Pepper loads of chances to exercise her investigative talents.

When Cait receives a phone call from a California lawyer telling her that she’s inherited a vineyard and two Shakespearean theaters, she thinks it’s an April Fools’ joke. Finally convinced, Cait makes the trip and discovers that Tasha Tilson Bening was her aunt, her father’s unknown-to-her twin. Since her parents are both dead, it’s up to Cait to make sense of the family secrets on her own. She meets Navy SEAL Royal Tanner, who’s been watching the place on Tasha’s behalf ever since a series of unsettling incidents occurred, and Tasha’s secretary, Marcus Singer, whose criminal record and unforthcoming demeanor make for an uneasy relationship with his new boss. After learning that her aunt’s death may have been murder rather than the heart attack attorney Stanton Lane had mentioned, Cait must decide whether she wants to remain on the valuable and fascinating property or return to Ohio. As Cait digs deeper into her family’s past, she uncovers some shocking news that will change her life. But the troubling past may not be the only factor to place her in mortal danger if she continues with her plans to take over the reins of her aunt’s enterprises.

Suspense and romance, though not much mystery, meet in Price’s debut, first in a planned series.

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4328-2602-4

Page Count: 330

Publisher: Five Star/Gale Cengage

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

Breezy and sardonic, with Judith and Renie (All the Pretty Hearses, 2011, etc.) in top form for their 26th adventure.

THE WURST IS YET TO COME

Welcome to Little Bavaria, a town devoted to tourists, beer, oompah bands and murder.

Leaving her husband home at Hillside Manor, innkeeper Judith Flynn drags her cousin Renie along on a 4-hour train ride to Little Bavaria, where Oktoberfest is in full swing and the state B&B association, egged on by Ingrid Heffelman, hopes that a hospitality booth manned by its members will fill up rooms left vacant in the economic downturn. It’s a good idea that quickly turns nasty. A 91-year-old town patron keels over at the welcoming event. The autopsy reveals aconite poisoning. The police chief, an incompetent buffoon dubbed Fat Matt, is thoroughly baffled. He calls on amateur sleuth Judith to help him out, not only with this murder, but with that of the owner of the Pancake Schloss two months back. A couple of locals make false confessions. New evidence suggests that a past suicide may actually have been murder. There’s another attempt at poisoning and a lot of gossip about the many, many illegitimate children of that town patron, plus a few rumors about the failed marriages of some of his progeny and the whereabouts of some of their children. Clues pile up, ditto red herrings. And the oompah bands play on until Judith sorts through old legal cases, divorce papers and documents concerning German immigrant resettlement after World War II and saints of the Catholic Church.

Breezy and sardonic, with Judith and Renie (All the Pretty Hearses, 2011, etc.) in top form for their 26th adventure.

Pub Date: July 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-208983-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

A not-so-thrilling thriller that leaves readers wishing that the bad guys were better shots.

CLOSE YOUR EYES

Johansen and her son, Roy, team up for their fourth collaborative effort (Shadow Zone, 2010, etc.).

Dr. Kendra Michaels, a music therapist, doesn’t seem like your average crime fighter, but Kendra’s track record is impressive. She’s helped police crack plenty of tough cases. Although she has no crime-fighting background, the first 20 years of her life have heightened her senses, and she can see, hear, smell and feel things no one else can. Born blind, Kendra had sight-restoring surgery, but regaining her ability to see hasn’t changed her gift for zeroing in on details that often get by others. So, when someone starts killing random people, former FBI agent Adam Lynch, who is now investigative freelancing, ropes her into helping the feds find the killer. Kendra hadn’t planned to get involved in another case, but an FBI agent named Jeff, who is also an old boyfriend of hers, has gone missing, and the bureau believes he was snatched while trying to find the serial killer. Kendra fights the idea of joining the investigation and gives everyone from Adam to the FBI’s special agent in charge a hard time. Then things get weird, and suddenly Kendra finds herself on the receiving end of the violence. After narrowly escaping an attack, Kendra plunges into the case but soon finds it’s forcing her to reexamine both her old relationship with Jeff and her new one with Adam. The law enforcement agents are all either corrupt or inept, and the supposed heat that builds between Kendra and Adam is tepid and uninteresting. While the foray into music therapy is compelling, the writers strain credulity with the premise that any federal agency would put up with someone as unpleasant and rude as Kendra, much less let her call the shots.

A not-so-thrilling thriller that leaves readers wishing that the bad guys were better shots.

Pub Date: July 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-312-61161-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

Better editing could have made this memorable, but even with Leotta’s tendency to provide character fashion reports on every...

DISCRETION

Former federal prosecutor Leotta covers some familiar ground in her second legal thriller.

Anna Curtis, the plucky blonde lawyer in the government’s D.C. Sex Crimes and Domestic Violence Unit, surfaces for a second go-round with the capital city’s seamier side following the murder of a high-price escort, which implicates a congressman. This time, Anna teams up with her boyfriend, head of the homicide division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Jack Bailey, who is a widower with an adorable 6-year-old named Olivia. Jack and Anna have been seeing one another on the sly for about six months and living together in his suburban home. When escort Caroline McBride takes the plunge off D.C. Congressman Lionel’s balcony at the Capitol, both Jack and Anna are called in. Jack requests Anna’s assistance and soon she, along with feisty and somewhat combative FBI agent Samantha Randazzo, is hot on the trail of the city’s top madam, who operates a high-priced and very hush-hush escort agency called Discretion. The agency caters to the city’s powerful and wealthy, and soon, both Anna and Sam discover that some members of the agency’s clientele might do anything to keep certain information about their activities from getting to the press. In addition to trying to solve Caroline’s murder, Anna and Jack have reached a crisis point in their relationship, and the two try to work through their issues without letting them affect the case or their professional relationship. Leotta’s writing has bumped up a notch since her first novel; this story’s well-plotted, and although the outcome isn’t nearly as surprising as it should be, it's much more believable. One drawback: The author describes in excruciating detail even the most minor characters, their wardrobes and the décor of the rooms they are in, which proves a major distraction from the action.

Better editing could have made this memorable, but even with Leotta’s tendency to provide character fashion reports on every page, this is worth the read.

Pub Date: July 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4484-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

Edward makes Dan Brown look like Shakespeare. And that’s a powerful bit of conjuring indeed.

FALLEN MASTERS

There’s no psychic powerful enough to ferret out where celebrity medium Edward mislaid his writing talent, but it certainly isn’t in this flaccid suspense novel.

One wants to like, even praise, a novel in which both Adolf Hitler and John Travolta figure. Alas, the mere names are the best part of the ploy. Here’s the opening line, at which the heart sinks: “Ten-year-old Charlene St. John glanced at the clock.” As well she might, since dad’s not home yet, and it’s near six. Dad’s from Scotland, and so, naturally enough, he says things like, “If men like me dinna screw in the bolts and tighten the nuts, the ship would come apart and sink to the bottom of the sea.” Well, give her all she’s got or no, and the fact remains that Scotty is just one of many people—everyone on the planet, really—who are entangled with some very weird events that, as the pope tells an assembly of stereotype-perfect world religious leaders, “taken together indicate the possibility of malevolent forces at work.” Enter ace scientist Jason Chang, who tells the president of the United States (POTUS, throughout most of the yarn, presumably to save on typing wear and tear) that “what we at NASA have been calling Dark Matter has appeared from nowhere—or, more correctly from a point near galaxy cluster Abell 2744.” Astronomy buffs may know that Abell 2744 is called Pandora’s Cluster because of its curious properties, among them heretofore not having been the ability to conjure up forces of evil so bad that even the aforementioned Hitler (or, as POTUS endearingly calls him, “perverted piece of shit”) hasn’t sided with them. Can the world be saved from Dark Matter and the Dark Overlords? By a few pages in, only John Travolta, jetting his way over a ravaged land, might be moved to care, while those who prize good writing will pray for the end days—or at least the end of this grinding tale. 

Edward makes Dan Brown look like Shakespeare. And that’s a powerful bit of conjuring indeed.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7653-3271-4

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

A confident thriller that leaves us wondering not whether its fictional premise will one day become reality, but when.

KILL DECISION

In this Crichton-esque thriller, a female scientist specializing in ant intelligence is drawn into a nightmarish plot involving swarming drones launching terrorist strikes on U.S. soil—on their own, not as programmed by humans.

To myrmecologist Linda McKinney's dismay, her findings on the social behavior of the murderously territorial weaver ant—Oecophylla longinoda—have become the basis for the technology behind the drones. She is doing field research in Tanzania when her living quarters are bombed and she is abducted—not by the enemy, but by a secret force headed by a rogue special operations soldier called Odin. Her death is faked to protect her from the faceless terrorists and to use her as bait to draw them out. McKinney enters into a frightening limbo existence in which she doesn't know what is happening, where she is or whom to trust. After escaping Odin's group, or thinking she has, she witnesses horrors that convince her he's on the side of good, and she works with him to expose the threat the drones represent. At a time when the military relies increasingly on drone intelligence and firepower in the war on terrorism, this thriller is eerily unsettling, if not quite plausible. Suarez, who established himself as a cyberthriller go-to author with Daemon (2009) and Freedom (2010), feeds his story with just the right amount of techno know-how, taking care not to overwhelm the human dimensions of the story (even if two cyberravens who fly around spying on people are the book's most interesting characters). Those with uneasy feelings about their trackable cellphones will be even more fearful after reading about the uses to which their easily accessible IMEI numbers can be put.

A confident thriller that leaves us wondering not whether its fictional premise will one day become reality, but when.

Pub Date: July 19, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-525-95261-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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