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Mick’s no Bogart, but he gets the job done.

Start of a new fantasy series set in mobster-era Chicago, from the author of The Conqueror’s Shadow (2010, etc.).

Mick Oberon slouches and snarls like any hard-boiled PI—but to go with the fedora and threadbare overcoat, he has pointy ears and packs a wand. As a Fae, he’s far harder to kill than any human gumshoe. With the exception of warm milk, he rejects human food and drink and rubs along accepting favors and oddments rather than money for his services. Like all Fae, he can’t abide pure iron or modern technology—cars cause him agony, and he can barely tolerate the "El." He has the useful ability to add to his own luck and subtract it from the bad guys, thus causing his opponent to trip over his own shoelaces at the crucial instant. But now, with his landlord in trouble with the bank, he needs a serious payday. The daughter of mobster couple Fino and Bianca Ottati was snatched 16 years ago and replaced with a changeling, and Bianca wants her real daughter back. The cold trail leads inevitably to the Fae world and its ruling Seelie Court, where Mick has few friends. Complicating the picture is Bianca’s mother-in-law, Donna Orsola Maldera, an extremely powerful witch with her own secret agenda, who considers Mick to be the devil himself. To get the information he needs, Mick might have to make his own Unseelie-style deal with the devil. Intriguing and sufficiently original as this is, the overly familiar backdrop—with its gangland cant and real-life mobster references—detracts from, rather than enhances, the proceedings. Only when Marmell focuses on the matter at hand does the narrative really start drawing readers in.

Mick’s no Bogart, but he gets the job done.

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-78116-822-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Titan Books

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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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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Irritatingly trite woman-in-periler from lawyer-turned-novelist Baldacci. Moving away from the White House and the white-shoe Washington law firms of his previous bestsellers (Absolute Power, 1996; Total Control, 1997), Baldacci comes up with LuAnn Tyler, a spunky, impossibly beautiful, white-trash truck stop waitress with a no-good husband and a terminally cute infant daughter in tow. Some months after the birth of Lisa, LuAnn gets a phone call summoning her to a make-shift office in an unrented storefront of the local shopping mall. There, she gets a Faustian offer from a Mr. Jackson, a monomaniacal, cross-dressing manipulator who apparently knows the winning numbers in the national lottery before the numbers are drawn. It seems that LuAnn fits the media profile of what a lottery winner should be—poor, undereducated but proud—and if she's willing to buy the right ticket at the right time and transfer most of her winnings to Jackson, she'll be able to retire in luxury. Jackson fails to inform her, however, that if she refuses his offer, he'll have her killed. Before that can happen, as luck would have it, LuAnn barely escapes death when one of husband Duane's drug deals goes bad. She hops on a first-class Amtrak sleeper to Manhattan with a hired executioner in pursuit. But executioner Charlie, one of Jackson's paid handlers, can't help but hear wedding bells when he sees LuAnn cooing with her daughter. Alas, a winning $100- million lottery drawing complicates things. Jackson spirits LuAnn and Lisa away to Sweden, with Charlie in pursuit. Never fear. Not only will LuAnn escape a series of increasingly violent predicaments, but she'll also outwit Jackson, pay an enormous tax bill to the IRS, and have enough left over to honeymoon in Switzerland. Too preposterous to work as feminine wish-fulfillment, too formulaic to be suspenseful. (Book-of-the-Month Club main selection)

Pub Date: Dec. 2, 1997

ISBN: 0-446-52259-7

Page Count: 528

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1997

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