A vibrant but uneven thriller involving a terrifying game.



In this novel, a lawyer gets drawn into a deadly game and turns to her criminal father for help extricating herself.

Maxine Shaw is a successful Black public defender in Cincinnati—as hard-nosed as she is astute. She’s assigned a peculiar case that just doesn’t add up—Mitchell Landing, an honors student at Xavier University, is accused of murdering DaVita Nelson, a close friend. Maxine consults her mentor, Mike Benton, a retired police detective, who furtively searches Mitchell’s apartment and finds a gun legally licensed to him, but not the one used in the commission of the crime. Then, Maxine searches Mitchell’s laptop and finds a link to a strange website that simultaneously warns against entry and invites it. When curiosity gets the better of her, she is informed that she has been enlisted in a deadly game in which she must perform dangerous tasks or risk the death of herself or a loved one. After she shares this information with Mike, he is murdered. Maxine contacts her estranged father, Ernesto, in search of help—he is a career criminal with deep knowledge of the seedy underworld. He warns her that she has been drawn into a battle that originates with a mysterious organization established in the 11th century by English nobleman David Jonathan Kingsley. The group ultimately split into two warring factions, one side representing good and the other evil. Baltimore deftly offers humor throughout the tale—the entire book is written in a lighthearted manner, its principal virtue. But while the story offers a striking and diverse cast of characters, the premise is implausible and melodramatic. The author seems aware of this element; consider this observation by Maxine: “I know this shit sounds all cloak and dagger, but I swear to God I’m glad my father taught me to prepare for the worst. I’ve gotten myself in quite a few fucked up situations in the past, but this...I’m scared to death.” Unfortunately, the novel’s comic relief is not enough to compensate for the tale’s missteps.

A vibrant but uneven thriller involving a terrifying game.

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2022

ISBN: 9781684897568

Page Count: 405

Publisher: Primedia eLaunch LLC

Review Posted Online: Dec. 2, 2022

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A compelling take on the classic whodunit.

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The shocking murder of a public figure at a high-end hotel has everyone guessing who the culprit might be.

Twenty-five-year-old Molly Gray, an eccentric young woman who's obsessed with cleaning but doesn't quite have the same ability to navigate social cues as those around her, loves working as a maid at the Regency Grand Hotel. Raised by her old-fashioned grandmother, who loved nothing more than cleaning and watching Columbo reruns, Molly has an overly polite and straightforward manner that can make her seem odd and off-putting to her colleagues despite her being the hardest worker at the hotel. After her grandmother's death, Molly's rigid life begins to lose some of its long-held balance, and when the infamous Mr. Charles Black, a rich and powerful businessman suspected of various criminal enterprises, is found murdered in one of the rooms she cleans, her whole world gets turned upside down. Before Molly knows what's happening, her odd demeanor has the police convinced she's guilty of the crime, and certain people at the hotel are a little too pleased about it. With the help of a few new friends (and while fending off new foes), she must begin to untangle the mystery of who really killed Mr. Black to get herself off the hook once and for all. Though the unusual ending might frustrate some readers, this unique debut will keep them reading.

A compelling take on the classic whodunit.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35615-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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A unique story of transcendent love.


An aimless young musician meets the girl of his dreams only to have his newfound happiness threatened by several inexplicable—and possibly supernatural—events.

The story opens as Leeds Gabriel meets with a detective while his girlfriend, Layla, is restrained in a room one flight above them. Through the interview, readers learn that Leeds was wasting both his time and his musical talent playing backup for a small-town wedding troupe called Garrett’s Band when he spied Layla dancing her heart out to their mediocre music at a wedding. When Leeds approaches Layla, their connection is both instant and intense. A blissful courtship follows, but then Leeds makes the mistake of posting a picture of himself with Layla on social media. A former girlfriend–turned-stalker wastes no time in finding and attacking Layla. Layla spends months recovering in a hospital, and it seems the girl Leeds fell for might be forever changed. Gone is her special spark, her quirkiness, and the connection that had entranced Leeds months before. In a last-ditch effort to save their relationship, he brings Layla back to the bed-and-breakfast where they first met. When they get there, though, Leeds meets Willow, another guest, and finds himself drawn to her in spite of himself. As events unfold, it becomes clear that Willow will either be the key to saving Leeds’ relationship with Layla or the catalyst that finally extinguishes the last shreds of their epic romance. Told entirely from Leeds’ point of view, the author’s first foray into paranormal romance does not disappoint. Peppered with elements of mystery, psychological thriller, and contemporary romance, the novel explores questions about how quickly true love can develop, as well as the conflicts that can imperil even the strongest connections. Despite a limited cast of characters and very few setting changes, the narrative manages to remain both fast-paced and engaging. The conclusion leaves a few too many loose ends, but the chemistry between the characters and unexpected twists throughout make for a satisfying read.

A unique story of transcendent love.

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-0017-8

Page Count: 301

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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