A welcome addition to this sui generis series, always fresh thanks to its vividly imagined characters firmly grounded in...

MISS KOPP JUST WON'T QUIT

From the Kopp Sisters series , Vol. 4

Stewart’s intrepid deputy sheriff is back (Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions, 2017, etc.), this time enmeshed in a 1916 local election with uncomfortable contemporary resonance.

Sheriff Heath, Constance Kopp’s liberal-minded mentor and defender at the Hackensack County Jail, is reluctantly running for Congress because he’s term-limited by New Jersey law. Odious John Courter, running to succeed Heath, attacks his record at every opportunity, including most particularly the “Troublesome Lady Policeman Who Frees Lunatics from Asylum.” The “lunatic” is Anna Kayser, committed by her husband for the fourth time on what seem to Deputy Kopp very flimsy grounds. Indeed, she soon learns that Mr. Kayser has his wife put away every time he wants to play house with a new girlfriend. Constance gets Anna a lawyer, one of the many feisty women with whom Stewart’s unabashedly feminist series is populated, and justice might even triumph in this case. The main plot concerns the increasingly ugly election, and Constance probably won’t be the only one who flinches when Sheriff Heath optimistically tells her, “A man who does nothing but cast out hate and blame couldn’t possibly be elected to office.” As before, Stewart bases much of the story on actual events (carefully documented in endnotes), with generous fictional embroidery to elaborate the stories of Constance’s Popular Science–loving sister, Norma, currently working to convince the Army it needs carrier pigeons, and their putative baby sister (actually Constance’s illegitimate daughter), Fleurette, who has aspirations as a performer but at the moment is a seamstress for a Fort Lee movie studio. The looming threat of World War I adds to the dark tone, but the military training camp at Plattsburg offers all three Kopp women a fresh start after the dispiriting election results. Constance may just have turned 40, but this tough-minded, generous-hearted believer in second chances and equal rights for women looks set for many more adventures.

A welcome addition to this sui generis series, always fresh thanks to its vividly imagined characters firmly grounded in historical fact.

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-328-73651-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how...

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THE A LIST

A convicted killer’s list of five people he wants dead runs the gamut from the wife he’s already had murdered to franchise heroine Ali Reynolds.

Back in the day, women came from all over to consult Santa Clarita fertility specialist Dr. Edward Gilchrist. Many of them left his care happily pregnant, never dreaming that the father of the babies they carried was none other than the physician himself, who donated his own sperm rather than that of the handsome, athletic, disease-free men pictured in his scrapbook. When Alexandra Munsey’s son, Evan, is laid low by the kidney disease he’s inherited from his biological father and she returns to Gilchrist in search of the donor’s medical records, the roof begins to fall in on him. By the time it’s done falling, he’s serving a life sentence in Folsom Prison for commissioning the death of his wife, Dawn, the former nurse and sometime egg donor who’d turned on him. With nothing left to lose, Gilchrist tattoos himself with the initials of five people he blames for his fall: Dawn; Leo Manuel Aurelio, the hit man he’d hired to dispose of her; Kaitlyn Todd, the nurse/receptionist who took Dawn’s place; Alex Munsey, whose search for records upset his apple cart; and Ali Reynolds, the TV reporter who’d helped put Alex in touch with the dozen other women who formed the Progeny Project because their children looked just like hers. No matter that Ali’s been out of both California and the news business for years; Gilchrist and his enablers know that revenge can’t possibly be served too cold. Wonder how far down that list they’ll get before Ali, aided once more by Frigg, the methodical but loose-cannon AI first introduced in Duel to the Death (2018), turns on them?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how little the boundary-challenged AI, who gets into the case more or less inadvertently, differs from your standard human sidekick with issues.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5101-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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A top-notch psychological thriller.

COLD COLD HEART

In Hoag’s (The 9th Girl, 2013, etc.) latest, talented young newscaster Dana Nolan is left to navigate a psychological maze after escaping a serial killer.

While recuperating at home in Shelby Mills, Indiana, Dana meets her former high school classmates John Villante and Tim Carver. Football hero Tim is ashamed of flunking out of West Point, and now he’s a sheriff’s deputy. After Iraq and Afghanistan tours, John’s home with PTSD, "angry and bitter and dark." Dana survived abduction by serial killer Doc Holiday, but she still suffers from the gruesome attack by "the man who ruined her life, destroyed her career, shattered her sense of self, damaged her brain and her face." What binds the trio is their friend Casey Grant, who's been missing five years, perhaps also a Holiday victim, even if "[t]he odds against that kind of coincidence had to be astronomical." Hoag’s first 100 pages are a gut-wrenching dissection of the aftereffects of traumatic brain injury: Dana is plagued by "[f]ear, panic, grief, and anger" and haunted by fractured memories and nightmares. "Before Dana had believed in the inherent good in people. After Dana knew firsthand their capacity for evil." Impulsive and paranoid, Dana obsesses over linking Casey’s disappearance to Holiday, with her misfiring brain convincing her that "finding the truth about what had happened to Casey [was] her chance of redemption." But then Hoag tosses suspects into the narrative faster than Dana can count: Roger Mercer, Dana’s self-absorbed state senator stepfather; Mack Villante, who left son John with "no memories of his father that didn’t include drunkenness and cruelty"; even Hardy, the hard-bitten, cancer-stricken detective who investigated Casey’s disappearance. Tense, tightly woven, with every minor character, from Dana’s fiercely protective aunt to Mercer’s pudgy campaign chief, ratcheting up the tension, Hoag’s narrative explodes with an unexpected but believable conclusion.

A top-notch psychological thriller.

Pub Date: Jan. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-525-95454-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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