An engaging thriller about dogfighting that features two appealing heroines.

Death by Dog

From the Special Crimes Team series , Vol. 5

The Special Crimes Team must crack a new case that soon leads to murder in this fifth installment of a series.

Walksfar (Beyond the Silence, 2016, etc.) continues chronicling the adventures of the Special Crimes Team through the story of heroine Sgt. Nita Slowater. In the previous novel in the series, Nita and her partner, intrepid reporter Dawn Samira, survived a deadly arson attack on their home in Seattle. Now, the two have moved back into their repaired house, and Nita and the other members of the crime team take on a new case when a teenage informant stumbles on a dogfighting ring. Dawn, who works for the Seattle Times, assembles a group of street teens to try to investigate the ring (“Those kids can go places and they know people that are off limits to any cop, including you, Nita”). Meanwhile, Nita and the others on her team, including her boss, Lt. Michael Williams, and computer guru Ronald Arneau, zero in on the perpetrators, who may be involved in other criminal activities, including drug trafficking and gambling. But the case gets deadlier when people who owned or purchased fighting dogs suddenly start turning up dead. When team members find themselves in danger, Nita, Dawn, and the rest of the gang must work fast to save their own lives. Walksfar has molded an enjoyable narrative here (if anything that focuses on the gruesome crime of dogfighting can be pleasurable). She crafts a story that is complicated without being incoherent, and she peppers the tale with superb, specific details about Seattle. She also focuses the novel on fully fleshed-out, complex characters. Dawn and Nita especially are captivating heroines; as a three-dimensional couple, with individual flaws but ultimately a deep love for each other, they are refreshingly realistic and give the narrative emotional substance. Not all the characters are so fully drawn, especially when it comes to the bad guys; there are too many villains who walk around spouting lines like “What the hell do you want? This is private property.” The novel also draws on elements of the previous books in the series; there are a few subplots, such as Nita’s wrestling with her Native American heritage, that are more developed in other volumes. Still, readers should be able to savor this tale on its own.

An engaging thriller about dogfighting that features two appealing heroines.

Pub Date: April 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5237-5787-9

Page Count: 394

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...

SUMMER ISLAND

Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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TRUE BETRAYALS

Thoroughbreds and Virginia blue-bloods cavort, commit murder, and fall in love in Roberts's (Hidden Riches, 1994, etc.) latest romantic thriller — this one set in the world of championship horse racing. Rich, sheltered Kelsey Byden is recovering from a recent divorce when she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi, a woman she has believed dead for over 20 years. When Kelsey confronts her genteel English professor father, though, he sheepishly confesses that, no, her mother isn't dead; throughout Kelsey's childhood, she was doing time for the murder of her lover. Kelsey meets with Naomi and not only finds her quite charming, but the owner of Three Willows, one of the most splendid horse farms in Virginia. Kelsey is further intrigued when she meets Gabe Slater, a blue-eyed gambling man who owns a neighboring horse farm; when one of Gabe's horses is mated with Naomi's, nostrils flare, flanks quiver, and the romance is on. Since both Naomi and Gabe have horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, Kelsey is soon swept into the whirlwind of the Triple Crown, in spite of her family's objections to her reconciliation with the notorious Naomi. The rivalry between the two horse farms remains friendly, but other competitors — one of them is Gabe's father, a vicious alcoholic who resents his son's success — prove less scrupulous. Bodies, horse and human, start piling up, just as Kelsey decides to investigate the murky details of her mother's crime. Is it possible she was framed? The ground is thick with no-goods, including haughty patricians, disgruntled grooms, and jockeys with tragic pasts, but despite all the distractions, the identity of the true culprit behind the mayhem — past and present — remains fairly obvious. The plot lopes rather than races to the finish. Gambling metaphors abound, and sexual doings have a distinctly equine tone. But Roberts's style has a fresh, contemporary snap that gets the story past its own worst excesses.

Pub Date: June 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-14059-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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