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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Perhaps too much ingenuity for its own good. But except for Jeffery Deaver and Sophie Hannah, no one currently working the...

THE SENTENCE IS DEATH

Fired Scotland Yard detective Daniel Hawthorne bursts onto the scene of his unwilling collaborator and amanuensis, screenwriter/novelist Anthony, who seems to share all Horowitz’s (Forever and a Day, 2018, etc.) credentials, to tell him that the game’s afoot again.

The victim whose death requires Hawthorne’s attention this time is divorce attorney Richard Pryce, bashed to death in the comfort of his home with a wine bottle. The pricey vintage was a gift from Pryce’s client, well-to-do property developer Adrian Lockwood, on the occasion of his divorce from noted author Akira Anno, who reportedly celebrated in a restaurant only a few days ago by pouring a glass of wine over the head of her husband’s lawyer. Clearly she’s too good a suspect to be true, and she’s soon dislodged from the top spot by the news that Gregory Taylor, who’d long ago survived a cave-exploring accident together with Pryce that left their schoolmate Charles Richardson dead, has been struck and killed by a train at King’s Cross Station. What’s the significance of the number “182” painted on the crime scene’s wall and of the words (“What are you doing here? It’s a bit late”) with which Pryce greeted his murderer? The frustrated narrator (The Word Is Murder, 2018) can barely muster the energy to reflect on these clues because he’s so preoccupied with fending off the rudeness of Hawthorne, who pulls a long face if his sidekick says boo to the suspects they interview, and the more-than-rudeness of the Met’s DI Cara Grunshaw, who threatens Hawthorne with grievous bodily harm if he doesn’t pass on every scrap of intelligence he digs up. Readers are warned that the narrator’s fondest hope—“I like to be in control of my books”—will be trampled and that the Sherlock-ian solution he laboriously works out is only the first of many.

Perhaps too much ingenuity for its own good. But except for Jeffery Deaver and Sophie Hannah, no one currently working the field has anywhere near this much ingenuity to burn.

Pub Date: May 28, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-267683-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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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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