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A MOST EFFICIENT MURDER

An English country house mystery infused with humor, verve, and plenty of surprises.

Awards & Accolades

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In this novel, a private secretary and a police detective investigate a murder at a British estate.

The Earl of Unsworth is atop the highest turret of his English castle, taking a brief respite from the large, extravagant 18th-birthday party he’s throwing for his favorite niece and ward, Fanny, when his butler interrupts him. The man informs Unsworth that an unknown young woman’s body has just been found in the garden. Hoping to avoid a scandal, Unsworth asks his highly efficient and capable private secretary, Mr. Quayle, to conduct his own discreet inquiries alongside the official police investigation. Despite misgivings, Quayle agrees. To his surprise, an old army buddy, now DI Wintle, turns out to be in charge of solving the crime. Despite their friendship, Wintle is not happy to have a civilian tagging along—or, in fact, trying to stay one step ahead. It soon becomes clear to both men that the Unsworth family is holding back its secrets and that not everything and everyone are what they seem. Their attempts to track down the identity of the murdered woman and how she came to be in the castle garden on the night of the party take both Quayle and Wintle far afield, including to London, as they try to sift through the conflicting stories offered by the members of the Unsworth family. The two sleuths interview Fanny—a surprisingly steely social butterfly—her domineering aunt Lady Constance, and her hapless, ne’er-do-well cousin Arthur, who has an unfortunate penchant for running away at crucial moments. Set in the 1920s, this second installment of Slayton’s series certainly checks all the boxes of the English country house mystery genre—a wealthy aristocrat’s estate, a long-lost relative, a missing family heirloom, a loyal household staff, and an enigmatic riddle. But the story never feels merely formulaic thanks to vivid writing, lively characters, and quietly snarky humor that will keep readers engaged from Page 1. This entertaining mystery hits all the right genre buttons in a fresh way.

An English country house mystery infused with humor, verve, and plenty of surprises.

Pub Date: April 3, 2022

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 309

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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CITY IN RUINS

If you love good crime writing but aren’t familiar with Winslow’s work, read this trilogy in order.

The dramatic conclusion to the trilogy about two New England crime families begun in City on Fire (2022) and City of Dreams (2023).

Near the end of his journey, multimillionaire Danny Ryan watches a casino implode in a mushroom cloud of dust and muses about his life’s implosions: “The cancer that killed his wife, the depression that destroyed his love, the moral rot that took his soul.” Danny is from Providence, Rhode Island, and desperately tried to leave his criminal life behind him. But using a ton of ill-gotten gains, he invests heavily in Las Vegas properties. Congress is conducting an investigation into gambling that could destroy his casino business and even land him in jail. An FBI agent plans to take Danny down for major sins he’d like to repent for. Meanwhile, can he make peace with his enemies? Nope, doesn’t look like it. Even if the parties involved want to put the past behind them, the trouble is that they don’t trust each other. Is Vern Winegard setting Dan up? Is Dan setting Vern up? “Trust? Trust is children waiting for Santa Claus.” So what could have been a “Kumbaya,” nobody-wants-to-read-this story turns into a grisly bloodletting filled with language that would set Sister Mary Margaret’s wimple on fire—figuratively speaking, as she’s not in the book. But the Catholic reference is appropriate: Two of the many colorful characters of ill repute are known as the Altar Boys, serving “Last Communion” to their victims. On the law-abiding side and out of the line of fire is an ex-nun-turned-prosecutor nicknamed Attila the Nun, who’s determined to bring justice for a gory matricide. (Rhode Island really had such a person, by the way.) Finally, the prose is just fun: A friend warns Dan about Allie Licata: “In a world of sick fucks, even the sick fucks think Licata’s a sick fuck.” A couple of things to note: This not only ends the trilogy, but it also closes out the author’s career, as he has said he’ll write no more novels.

If you love good crime writing but aren’t familiar with Winslow’s work, read this trilogy in order.

Pub Date: April 2, 2024

ISBN: 9780063079472

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2024

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THREE-INCH TEETH

A tale that’s hard to believe but easy to swallow in a single gulp.

A bear is hunting prey in Wyoming’s Bighorns. And not just any bear.

It’s bad enough that Clay Hutmacher, who manages the Double Diamond Ranch, has lost his son, Clay Jr., to a vicious attack by a grizzly bear. What’s much worse is that Clay Jr.—who’d been about to pop the question to game warden Joe Pickett’s daughter, Sheridan—is only the first of the victims over an exceptionally broad geographical area. Marshal Marvin Bertignolli is clawed and bitten to death over in Hanna. Sgt. Ryan Winner is found bleeding out north of Rawlins. Former Twelve Sleep County prosecutor Dulcie Schalk, one of two survivors of an ambush, doesn’t survive her final encounter. The four experts chosen to kill the grizzly rope Joe into their expedition, but since their quarry keeps turning up far from the last sighting, the most meaningful confrontation the Predator Attack Team has is with a pair of Mama Bears, animal rights activists who demand due process for Tisiphone, as they’ve dubbed the presumed killer. Box, who’s far too canny to leave Tisiphone alone on center stage, follows Joe’s old antagonist Dallas Cates as the ex–rodeo star is released from prison and embarks on his revenge tour, which takes him to Lee Ogburn-Russell, an inventor whose life Dallas saved, and Axel Soledad, a correspondent who shares so many enemies with Dallas that he suggests they go after them together. Franchise fans will appreciate new details about Joe’s complicated family, the obligatory high-country landscapes, and yet another corrupt law enforcer.

A tale that’s hard to believe but easy to swallow in a single gulp.

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2024

ISBN: 9780593331347

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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