The usual mix of humor, detection, and flamboyant personalities adds sparkle to an otherwise mundane mystery.

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ANTIQUES FIRE SALE

A new sheriff makes her mark with some decidedly unorthodox crime-fighting techniques.

Somehow Vivian Borne, antiques dealer, thespian, amateur detective, and all-around diva, has been elected sheriff of Serenity County on the banks of the Mississippi River. Her Prozac-popping daughter, Brandy Borne, and Brandy’s diabetic Shih Tzu, Sushi, have long been her partners in detective work as well as antiquing (Antiques Ravin’, 2019, etc.). When Brandy and Vivian visit James Sutter, owner of the Wentworth Mansion, which is being slowly restored to its former glory, a short tour reveals many valuable antiques, including a Tiffany lava vase. Oddly, though Jimmy owns the house, the Wentworth family still owns the furniture. When Vivian rushes into the house that night to save Jimmy—and the vase—from a fire, she finds that the Tiffany vase is gone. Brandy’s boyfriend, police chief Tony Cassato, suggests that Vivian stay out of his investigation, but soon she’s holding court in the hospital, insisting that she’s ready for the following night, when tryouts begin for the play she’s directing. Releasing herself from the hospital, she goes directly to the coroner just in time to save the already badly burned body that everyone assumes is Jimmy from cremation so that an autopsy can be performed. Her appearance makes her unpopular with both the coroner and Jimmy’s stepson, Gavin Sutter. Vivian’s hunch pays off when the autopsy indicates that the man was murdered by a blunt instrument. Insurance agent Cliff Reed meets with Sutter and Benjamin Wentworth, heir to the collection, who are shocked to learn that the insurance on the house has lapsed and some of the antiques may be missing. Something odd is going on that may be a motive for murder. Vivian, busy illegally rewriting the play as a musical, is flabbergasted when Sushi digs up a body, readily identifiable as that of Jimmy Sutter, not far from the playhouse garage and the trailer of missing janitor Leon Jones. Is the unidentified body that of Jones? And what could be his involvement with the Wentworth mansion?

The usual mix of humor, detection, and flamboyant personalities adds sparkle to an otherwise mundane mystery.

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4967-1143-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Great storytelling, a quirky hero, and a quirkier plot make this a winner for adventure fans.

CROOKED RIVER

FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast finds evil afoot in his latest action-filled adventure (Verses for the Dead, 2018, etc.).

Imagine Florida beachcombers’ shock when they discover a shoe with a severed foot inside. Soon they see dozens more feet, all in identical shoes, bobbing toward the beach. Police and FBI ultimately count more than a hundred of them washing up on Sanibel and Captiva Islands' tranquil shores. Pendergast teams up with the junior Special Agent Armstrong Coldmoon to investigate this strange phenomenon. Oceanographers use a supercomputer to analyze Gulf currents and attempt to determine where the feet entered the ocean. Were they dumped off a ship or an island? Does each one represent a homicide? Analysts examine chemical residues and pollen, even the angle of each foot’s amputation, but the puzzle defies all explanation. Attention focuses on Cuba, where “something terrible was happening” in front of a coastal prison, and on China, the apparent source of the shoes. The clever plot is “a most baffling case indeed” for the brilliant Pendergast, but it’s the type of problem he thrives on. He’s hardly a stereotypical FBI agent, given for example his lemon-colored silk suit, his Panama hat, and his legendary insistence on working alone—until now. Pendergast rarely blinks—perhaps, someone surmises, he’s part reptile. But equally odd is Constance Greene, his “extraordinarily beautiful,” smart, and sarcastic young “ward” who has “eyes that had seen everything and, as a result, were surprised by nothing.” Coldmoon is more down to earth: part Lakota, part Italian, and “every inch a Fed.” Add in murderous drug dealers, an intrepid newspaper reporter, coyotes crossing the U.S.–Mexico border, and a pissed-off wannabe graphic novelist, and you have a thoroughly entertaining cast of characters. There is plenty of suspense, and the action gets bloody.

Great storytelling, a quirky hero, and a quirkier plot make this a winner for adventure fans.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4725-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Professionally entertaining, with lots of realistically frustrating false hopes—though it’s hard to worry very much about...

NEON PREY

Lucas Davenport goes west.

But first he goes south, called from his home in Minnesota to the Louisiana swamp where hired killer Clayton Deese buried at least five people (the total is actually higher) before coming a cropper seven months ago with his latest target, Howell Paine. Things went sideways, sending Paine to the hospital and sentencing Deese to an ankle monitor he sliced through three days ago. Local FBI agent Sandro Tremanty, discovering Deese’s absence, wants help from the U.S. marshals in rounding up his quarry so that he can implicate loan shark Roger Smith, who’d hired him to hurt Paine and send a warning to his other debtors. And there’s another reason the feds would like to get Deese off the streets: His experiments in homicide have given him a taste for human flesh. Soon enough, Lucas, together with marshals Rae Givens and Bob Matees, has picked up Deese’s trail, which leads first to Marina Del Rey, where he’s joined his half brother, Marion Beauchamps, and Jayden Nast, “a guy with guns, who hates cops,” in a brutal home-invasion crew. Conscientious detective work brings Lucas and the LAPD within a whisker of catching Deese, but he slips away from them and heads to Las Vegas with Genesis Cox, the blonde he’s picked up, and John Rogers Cole, another accomplice. Deese and his cohort must constantly pull new jobs to support their gambling and drug habits, and it’s hard to imagine their eluding the law for very long. But there are deeper threats to their racket. Roger Smith, who knows plenty about Deese, realizes he has every reason to get rid of him, and there turns out to be no honor among the thieves closer to home either.

Professionally entertaining, with lots of realistically frustrating false hopes—though it’s hard to worry very much about the leading question here: Will the franchise hero (Twisted Prey, 2018, etc.) succeed in bringing the crooks to justice before they wipe each other off the face of the Earth?

Pub Date: April 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53658-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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