A simple but engrossing mystery with a New York accent.




From the Al and Mick Forte series , Vol. 2

A Brooklyn attorney is determined to recover his losses after someone clears out all of his bank accounts in Avitabile’s crime novel.

Al Forte rightly suspects something is amiss when a $40 check he’s written bounces. But he’s unprepared for the news that his bank accounts, both personal and his law office’s, are completely empty. His federally chartered bank isn’t very sympathetic, as there have been instances of lawyers hiding their own funds and claiming identity theft to recoup allegedly stolen capital from the banks. But his bank’s suspicion primarily stems from Al’s association with his paternal cousin, Mick, a (mostly) legit businessman from a mob-affiliated family. However, Mick’s maternal cousin, Eli Ativa, who’s also an attorney, is likely the unwitting culprit. He recently borrowed Al’s laptop, which someone seems to have hacked. As Eli is frustratingly absent and hard to track down, Al searches for clues at the cafe where Eli often works. He eventually learns that a dubious individual with a particular device was indeed in the vicinity of Al’s laptop. Unfortunately, the bank has notified the New York Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection, which looks into misconduct by attorneys. Now Al and Mick must prove to its grievance committee that someone stole Al’s information when some people still believe he’s a swindler. The second book in the series that began with Occupational Hazard (2018), this installment is a quietly engaging mystery that consists largely of scenes driven by dialogue, as characters discuss who’s behind the theft and how. But there’s abundant tension, as Al faces threats such as imprisonment or disbarment, or both, while Eli’s apparent disappearance is unsettling. The author refers often to the first Al and Mick novel, and one of its characters is a potential suspect in this story’s crime. Readers new to the series will easily follow along, though there are spoilers aplenty. Although Al and Mick are a fascinating pair of polar opposites, Mick’s incessant castigation of his cousin for not heeding warnings of Eli’s untrustworthiness quickly wears thin. Fortunately, Mick’s lawyer, Richie Abbatello, who both helps and encourages Al, is a nice counterbalance.

A simple but engrossing mystery with a New York accent.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73230-632-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2020

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One protest from an outraged innocent says it all: “This is America. This is Wyoming.”

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Once again, Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett gets mixed up in a killing whose principal suspect is his old friend Nate Romanowski, whose attempts to live off the grid keep breaking down in a series of felony charges.

If Judge Hewitt hadn’t bent over to pick up a spoon that had fallen from his dinner table, the sniper set up nearly a mile from his house in the gated community of the Eagle Mountain Club would have ended his life. As it was, the victim was Sue Hewitt, leaving the judge alive and free to rail and threaten anyone he suspected of the shooting. Incoming Twelve Sleep County Sheriff Brendan Kapelow’s interest in using the case to promote his political ambitions and the judge’s inability to see further than his nose make them the perfect targets for a frame-up of Nate, who just wants to be left alone in the middle of nowhere to train his falcons and help his bride, Liv Brannon, raise their baby, Kestrel. Nor are the sniper, the sheriff, and the judge Nate’s only enemies. Orlando Panfile has been sent to Wyoming by the Sinaloan drug cartel to avenge the deaths of the four assassins whose careers Nate and Joe ended last time out (Wolf Pack, 2019). So it’s up to Joe, with some timely data from his librarian wife, Marybeth, to hire a lawyer for Nate, make sure he doesn’t bust out of jail before his trial, identify the real sniper, who continues to take an active role in the proceedings, and somehow protect him from a killer who regards Nate’s arrest as an unwelcome complication. That’s quite a tall order for someone who can’t shoot straight, who keeps wrecking his state-issued vehicles, and whose appalling mother-in-law, Missy Vankeuren Hand, has returned from her latest European jaunt to suck up all the oxygen in Twelve Sleep County to hustle some illegal drugs for her cancer-stricken sixth husband. But fans of this outstanding series will know better than to place their money against Joe.

One protest from an outraged innocent says it all: “This is America. This is Wyoming.”

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53823-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.


Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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