A decidedly mixed bag, not unlike love itself.

A DEADLY AFFAIR

UNEXPECTED LOVE STORIES FROM THE QUEEN OF MYSTERY

Fifteen reprinted stories, most of them originally published between 1923 and 1933, for those who think the doyenne of golden-age detective fiction had no time for love.

Fans of Christie’s novel-length puzzlers won’t be surprised to learn that love doesn’t conquer all. In “Death by Drowning,” Miss Jane Marple announces Rose Emmott, unmarried and pregnant, has been murdered, and she knows by whom. A pair of lovers confess separately to killing the woman’s husband in the Harley Quin mystery “The Love Detectives.” Hercule Poirot intervenes in a lovers’ triangle only just in time to prevent murder in “Wasps’ Nest,” as does Quin’s friend Mr. Satterthwaite in “The Face of Helen.” Soon after asking the vacationing Mr. Parker Pyne to determine whether she’s being poisoned in “Death on the Nile,” the importunate Lady Grayle is dead. Tommy and Tuppence do their best to compete with the Father Brown franchise in “The Man in the Mist.” It would be a stretch to call most of these love stories, and amateur sleuths would have to look even more closely to find the romance in “Fruitful Sunday,” in which a jeweled necklace appears in a just-purchased bowl of fruit, or “The Case of the Caretaker,” in which Miss Marple’s physician gives her a mysterious story to read and solve. But love plays a more central role in the lesser tales “The Case of the Rich Woman” (a client of Mr. Parker Pyne’s who is seeking happiness finds it through an unexpected romance) and “Magnolia Blossom” (a straying wife is torn between loyalty to her husband and the creditor she loves), and in the best of the bunch, “The King of Clubs,” Poirot deftly uncovers the truth about a lothario who deserved exactly what happened to him. The collection is capped by Christie’s reminiscences of two abortive romances of her own.

A decidedly mixed bag, not unlike love itself.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-314234-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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Enjoyable storytelling by two masters of the craft.

22 SECONDS

Lindsay Boxer faces a ton of trouble in the latest entry in Patterson and Paetro’s Women’s Murder Club series.

Senior crime reporter Cindy Thomas is writing a biography of Evan Burke, a notorious serial killer who sits in solitary confinement in San Quentin. She’s kidnapped by thugs wanting her to talk about her best friend, Lindsay Boxer, who’s an SFPD homicide detective and the story’s main character. San Francisco has a restrictive new gun law, and gun-totin’ folks everywhere have their boxer shorts in a twist. A national resistance movement has formed—Defenders of the Second—whose motto is “We will not comply.” They find it outrageous that the new law makes it illegal to own a gun that can kill 50 people with a single clip. Meanwhile, lots of bodies show up: A young girl disappears and is later found dead in a ditch, and ex-cops are found dead with their lips stapled shut and “You talk, you die” written on their foreheads. An inmate is found hanged in prison. And “a massive but unspecified load of military-style weaponry was en route from Mexico to the City by the Bay.” In a “frustrating, multipronged case,” there’s a harrowing shootout memorialized in a video showing “twenty-two of the scariest seconds” of Boxer’s life. She’s an appealing series hero with loving family and friends, but she may arrive at a crossroads where she has “to choose between my work and [my] baby girl.” The formulaic story has unmemorable writing, but it’s entertaining and well told. You probably won’t have to worry about the main characters, who have thus far survived 21 adventures. Except for the little girl, you can expect people to get what they deserve. It's relatively mild as crime novels go, but the women characters are serious, strong, and admirable.

Enjoyable storytelling by two masters of the craft.

Pub Date: May 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-49937-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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Generations may succeed generations, but Sandford’s patented investigation/action formula hasn’t aged a whit. Bring it on.

THE INVESTIGATOR

A domestic-terrorist plot gives the adopted daughter of storied U.S. Marshal Lucas Davenport her moment to shine.

Veteran oilman Vermilion Wright knows that losing a few thousand gallons of crude is no more than an accounting error to his company but could mean serious money to whomever’s found a way to siphon it off from wells in Texas’ Permian Basin. So he asks Sen. Christopher Colles, Chair of Homeland Security and Government Affairs, to look into it, and Colles persuades 24-year-old Letty Davenport, who’s just quit his employ, to return and partner with Department of Homeland Security agent John Kaiser to track down the thieves. The plot that right-winger Jane Jael Hawkes and her confederates, most of them service veterans with disgruntled attitudes and excellent military skills, have hatched is more dire than anything Wright could have imagined. They plan to use the proceeds from the oil thefts to purchase some black-market C4 essential to a major act of terrorism that will simultaneously express their alarm about the country’s hospitality to illegal immigrants and put the Jael-Birds on the map for good. But they haven’t reckoned with Letty, another kid born on the wrong side of the tracks who can outshoot the men she’s paired with and outthink the vigilantes she finds herself facing—and who, along with her adoptive father, makes a memorable pair of “pragmatists. Really harsh pragmatists” willing to do whatever needs doing without batting an eye or losing a night’s sleep afterward.

Generations may succeed generations, but Sandford’s patented investigation/action formula hasn’t aged a whit. Bring it on.

Pub Date: April 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-32868-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2022

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