An enjoyable, intriguing read that captures the atmosphere of a chaotic era.


Basinski’s legal procedural is set on Georgia’s Fort Daley Army base in 1969 when the Vietnam War is raging and the anti-war protest movement is gaining traction.

Drafted after completing law school, Pvt. Frank Grabowski is in basic training and not by choice. It’s a cold October morning when he learns that Sgt. Eustice Benson has been killed, repeatedly stabbed to death during the night. Benson had been an especially brutal drill sergeant, but he was also a war hero. The Army intends to conclude the case quickly. Within the day, they arrest Pvt. Perry Morrocco and charge him with premeditated murder. A year earlier, Perry had rescued Frank from the police-instigated violence during Chicago’s Democratic convention. Now they are serendipitously serving in the same unit in Fort Daley. Perry has been an active anti-war protester, and his induction in the Army was the unconventional result of having been arrested for drug possession after leaving Woodstock. It’s through such narrative snippets that Basinski evokes the political, legal, and social turmoil that was roiling the country at the time. Much to Frank’s surprise, Perry is refusing to talk unless his just-out-of-law-school buddy is assigned to the Judge Advocate General defense team. JAG attorney Lt. Karen Farrall is co-counsel, and she and Frank begin the search for other plausible suspects, indulging in a bit of romance along the way. This is first and foremost an engaging legal drama, pitting the idealism and naiveté of an inexperienced attorney against the institutionalized power of the U.S. Army. But it also serves to highlight one of the tragic ancillary problems arising out of the Vietnam debacle—the easy availability of drugs in Southeast Asia, resulting in a dependency that plagued too many returning troops. Legal enthusiasts will find some disturbing examples of the differences between civilian and military codes of justice. Conversational narration and easy-flowing dialogue propel the story forward at a good pace, with a couple of surprises along the way, including an unsettling epilogue.

An enjoyable, intriguing read that captures the atmosphere of a chaotic era.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: 195

Publisher: Manuscript

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2020

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Crave chills and thrills but don’t have time for a King epic? This will do the job before bedtime. Not that you’ll sleep.

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Horrormeister King follows a boy’s journey from childhood to adolescence among the dead—and their even creepier living counterparts.

Jamie Conklin sees dead people. Not for very long—they fade away after a week or so—but during that time he can talk to them, ask them questions, and compel them to answer truthfully. His uncanny gift at first seems utterly unrelated to his mother Tia’s work as a literary agent, but the links become disturbingly clear when her star client, Regis Thomas, dies shortly after starting work on the newest entry in his bestselling Roanoke Saga, and Tia and her lover, NYPD Detective Liz Dutton, drive Jamie out to Cobblestone Cottage to encourage the late author to dictate an outline of his latest page-turner so that Tia, who’s fallen on hard times, can write it in his name instead of returning his advance and her cut. Now that she’s seen what Jamie can do, Liz takes it on herself to arrange an interview in which Jamie will ask Kenneth Therriault, a serial bomber who’s just killed himself, where he’s stowed his latest explosive device before it can explode posthumously. His post-mortem encounter with Therriault exacts a high price on Jamie, who now finds himself more haunted than ever, though he never gives up on the everyday experiences in which King roots all his nightmares.

Crave chills and thrills but don’t have time for a King epic? This will do the job before bedtime. Not that you’ll sleep.

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7890-9649-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Hard Case Crime

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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Top-drawer crime fiction. The authors are tough on the hero, but the hero is tough.


Patterson and Ellis put their characters through hell in this hard-edged second installment of their Black Book series after The Black Book (2017).

A young girl is one of four people gunned down in a “very, very bad” K-Town drive-by shooting in Chicago. Police are under intense political pressure to solve it, so Detective Billy Harney is assigned to the Special Operations Section to put the brakes on the gang violence on the West Side. His new partner is Detective Carla Griffin, whom colleagues describe as “sober as an undertaker” and “as fun as a case of hemorrhoids.” And she looks like the last thing he needs, a pill popper. (But is she?) Department muckety-mucks want Harney to fail, and Griffin is supposed to spy on him. The poor guy already has a hell of a backstory: His daughter died and his wife committed suicide (or did she?) four years earlier, he’s been shot in the head, charged with murder (and exonerated), and helped put his own father in prison. (Nothing like a tormented hero!) Now the deaths still haunt him while he and Griffin begin to suspect they’re not looking at a simple turf war starring the Imperial Gangster Nation. Meanwhile, the captain in Internal Affairs is deep in the pocket of some bad guys who run an international human trafficking ring, and he loathes Harney. The protagonist is lucky to have Patti, his sister and fellow detective, as his one reliable friend who lets him know he’s being set up. The authors do masterful work creating flawed characters to root for or against, and they certainly pile up the troubles for Billy Harney. Abundant nasty twists will hold readers’ rapt attention in this dark, violent, and fast-moving thriller.

Top-drawer crime fiction. The authors are tough on the hero, but the hero is tough.

Pub Date: March 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-49940-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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