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An investigator who’s an acquired taste softens during this intense thriller.

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A fledgling detective discovers the hard way that being overconfident could land her in deep trouble in this engrossing mystery.

Author Diamond’s investigator is Claire Chastain, back for a second outing following The Friday Cage (2020). Claire formerly examined hidden risks for corporate buyouts, a dull sort of detective work. But after the traumatizing events of the first volume, she is taking criminal justice courses at American University. Now, she’s game for something more challenging. Well, be careful what you wish for. Claire receives a call from appliance magnate Roscoe Lehmann, who has a case for her, though she’s not yet a licensed PI. He wants her to check out Jacob Reisman, a squirrelly employee who might be stealing. Posing as an insurance investigator, Claire soon determines that Jacob is far too nervous to be a thief. Doing the proper legwork, Claire even visits Jacob at his apartment. When he’s brutally murdered, Claire becomes a suspect, with a security camera capturing an image of a woman who looks like Claire around the time of the crime. She had ignored her doubts about the case, and now she is framed as a result. Ignoring the sensible advice of her attorney, Anton Durant, Claire stubbornly sets out to prove her innocence. As Anton notes throughout, Claire suffers from “resting bitch face,” which makes her appear guilty despite being innocent. She came by her demeanor honestly; her overbearing grandmother taught her to distrust everybody. Perhaps she can learn to trust a bit more? While the novel does have likable supporting characters, like Anton and the victim, the narrative is primarily a battle of wits between Claire and the real killer, who set her up. The action swiftly moves along as Claire races around the country following leads, too impatient to wait for Anton’s investigator and the police to clear her. The real question that remains is what has the hotheaded detective learned that will serve her better down the road.

An investigator who’s an acquired taste softens during this intense thriller.

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-73413-924-2

Page Count: 286

Publisher: Stolen Time Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 29, 2021

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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. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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A brutal, gripping look at murder in a self-enclosed community with many secrets to hide.

When two police officers stop for a bit of dalliance, screams from the nearby woods introduce them to a puzzling and horrifying murder.

Chuck Skidmore and Mona Kurtz don’t arrive in time to rescue a man who’s being burned at the stake, a sight that will haunt their dreams. Police Chief Kate Burkholder arrives on the scene with her husband, John Tomasetti, an agent of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, who’ll join her and many other cops in a task force investigating the bizarre murder. Born Amish, Kate ran away from Painters Mill, found her vocation in law enforcement, and eventually came home as the police department’s chief. Over the years, she’s built up some trust with the local Amish community, who generally prefer to keep their problems to themselves. The victim is Milan Swanz, a troubled former schoolmate of Kate’s whom she’s arrested several times. A divorced man with four children, he’d been recently excommunicated by the Amish. Although Milan was far from popular, Kate meets a wall of silence from even her own brother, one of many people who had disputes with the hot-tempered man. Kate’s theory of the crime, based on stories in a book popular with the Amish, is so bizarre that she has trouble believing it herself. When her brother is arrested, she’s removed from the task force but continues to investigate, putting her in the sights of some very determined killers.

A brutal, gripping look at murder in a self-enclosed community with many secrets to hide.

Pub Date: July 9, 2024

ISBN: 9781250781116

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2024

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