No surprises here, but Thiem’s tough-but-tender hero’s dedication to a routine so grueling it feels authentic puts the...

THRILL KILL

The second case for Oakland PD Sgt. Matt Sinclair (Red Line, 2015) hits a little closer to home than he’d like.

Dawn Gustafson was only 17 when Sinclair arrested her for streetwalking 10 years ago. Though she couldn’t abide life with her God-fearing parents back in Minnesota, the girl seemed to be as bright and gifted as she was beautiful, and Sinclair cheered when she avoided the worst punishments of the justice system and got another chance. Now that second chance has ended with an indelible image: the figure of Dawn, strangled, shot, set afire, and hanged from a tree in Burckhalter Park. Who could have hated her enough to choreograph such an elaborately sadistic murder scene? Going through customary investigative routines sharpened by his personal sense of mourning, Sinclair soon realizes that despite taking accounting courses at San Francisco State, Dawn was back on the game. His attempt to lean on Helena Decker, her boss at Special Ladies Escorts, brings him into an uneasy alliance with the FBI, and his meeting with Bianca Fadell, Helena’s smoking-hot lawyer, leads to a further round of introductions to local bigwigs, the obligatory temptations of the flesh, and the strong suspicion that he’s playing with several different kinds of fire. When everyone from FBI agent Mark Cummings to U.S. Attorney Jack Campbell to Sinclair’s ex-partner, Sgt. Phil Roberts of OPD Intelligence, acts as if Dawn’s murder can be safely ignored in favor of the big picture, Sinclair wonders how big that picture must be if it allows an unusually savage murder to be swept under the rug.

No surprises here, but Thiem’s tough-but-tender hero’s dedication to a routine so grueling it feels authentic puts the procedure back in procedural.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62953-766-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crooked Lane

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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THE BLACK ECHO

Big, brooding debut police thriller by Los Angeles Times crime-reporter Connelly, whose labyrinthine tale of a cop tracking vicious bank-robbers sparks and smolders but never quite catches fire. Connelly shows off his deep knowledge of cop procedure right away, expertly detailing the painstaking examination by LAPD homicide detective Hieronymus (Harry) Bosch of the death-scene of sometime junkie Billy Meadows, whom Bosch knew as a fellow "tunnel rat" in Vietnam and who's now o.d.'d in an abandoned water tunnel. Pushing Meadows's death as murder while his colleagues see it as accidental, Bosch, already a black sheep for his vigilante-like ways, further alienates police brass and is soon shadowed by two nastily clownish Internal Affairs cops wherever he goes—even to FBI headquarters, which Bosch storms after he learns that the Bureau had investigated him for a tunnel-engineered bank robbery that Meadows is implicated in. Assigned to work with beautiful, blond FBI agent Eleanor Wish, who soon shares his bed in an edgy alliance, Bosch comes to suspect that the robbers killed Meadows because the vet pawned some of the loot, and that their subsequent killing of the only witness to the Meadows slaying points to a turned cop. But who? Before Bosch can find out, a trace on the bank-robbery victims points him toward a fortune in smuggled diamonds and the likelihood of a second heist—leading to the blundering death of the IAD cops, the unveiling of one bad cop, an anticipated but too-brief climax in the L.A. sewer tunnels, and, in a twisty anticlimax, the revelation of a second rotten law officer. Swift and sure, with sharp characterizations, but at heart really a tightly wrapped package of cop-thriller cliches, from the hero's Dirty Harry persona to the venal brass, the mad-dog IAD cops, and the not-so-surprising villains. Still, Connelly knows his turf and perhaps he'll map it more freshly next time out.

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 1992

ISBN: 0-316-15361-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1991

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Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how...

THE A LIST

A convicted killer’s list of five people he wants dead runs the gamut from the wife he’s already had murdered to franchise heroine Ali Reynolds.

Back in the day, women came from all over to consult Santa Clarita fertility specialist Dr. Edward Gilchrist. Many of them left his care happily pregnant, never dreaming that the father of the babies they carried was none other than the physician himself, who donated his own sperm rather than that of the handsome, athletic, disease-free men pictured in his scrapbook. When Alexandra Munsey’s son, Evan, is laid low by the kidney disease he’s inherited from his biological father and she returns to Gilchrist in search of the donor’s medical records, the roof begins to fall in on him. By the time it’s done falling, he’s serving a life sentence in Folsom Prison for commissioning the death of his wife, Dawn, the former nurse and sometime egg donor who’d turned on him. With nothing left to lose, Gilchrist tattoos himself with the initials of five people he blames for his fall: Dawn; Leo Manuel Aurelio, the hit man he’d hired to dispose of her; Kaitlyn Todd, the nurse/receptionist who took Dawn’s place; Alex Munsey, whose search for records upset his apple cart; and Ali Reynolds, the TV reporter who’d helped put Alex in touch with the dozen other women who formed the Progeny Project because their children looked just like hers. No matter that Ali’s been out of both California and the news business for years; Gilchrist and his enablers know that revenge can’t possibly be served too cold. Wonder how far down that list they’ll get before Ali, aided once more by Frigg, the methodical but loose-cannon AI first introduced in Duel to the Death (2018), turns on them?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how little the boundary-challenged AI, who gets into the case more or less inadvertently, differs from your standard human sidekick with issues.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5101-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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