An entertaining mystery propelled by a hero to be savored, a smart, gentle cynic who comfortably interacts with both expats...

RESTAURANTE OAXACA

From the Santo Gordo Mysteries series , Vol. 3

Robert “Roberto” Evans, aka Santo Gordo, once again becomes embroiled in a battle not of his own choosing, this time against a gang of thieves and murderers.

This third volume of Kerns’ (Oaxaca Chocolate, 2016, etc.) Santo Gordo Mysteries opens with Roberto, an overweight American expatriate in his mid-60s, heading back from a mountain hideout in Mexico. He needed to recuperate from his last adventure and wait for the blowback caused by the death of a fellow expat to die down. Convinced that he can no longer remain in his beloved Oaxaca, Roberto now decides it is time to return to the United States. His plan is interrupted on the bus ride back to town when he witnesses a robbery that results in the murder of a police officer. It turns out that the policeman is a relative of Efraím, Roberto’s best friend and crime-solving partner. Efraím, a taxi driver who, through his network of fellow taxistas, knows everything and everyone in the small city, catches Roberto just before he boards a plane: “Come. I need you. Now—emergency—quick.” The improbable sleuth is back in the game. They hatch a plan to catch the thug who killed Efraím’s cousin, with Roberto the bait to lure him into a trap. Fans of the series will know that a more complicated crime is yet to be uncovered. The colors, smells, music, and especially the food of Oaxaca and its surrounding villages jump off the pages in this tale. The pace remains leisurely. Roberto walks slowly; he takes the time to study the streets, the architecture, the people; he needs his afternoon naps; and he never misses an opportunity to eat. Kerns offers some background for new readers of the delightful series, and this novel, a bit more plot-driven than the earlier ones, can be read as a stand-alone. But it is best enjoyed after reading the previous volumes, starting with the opener (Santo Gordo: A Killing in Oaxaca, 2016) when Santo Gordo first earned his moniker. 

An entertaining mystery propelled by a hero to be savored, a smart, gentle cynic who comfortably interacts with both expats and locals.

Pub Date: July 25, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5352-0026-4

Page Count: 210

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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No wonder Scarpetta asks, “When did my workplace become such a soap opera?” Answer: at least 10 years ago.

FLESH AND BLOOD

Happy birthday, Dr. Kay Scarpetta. But no Florida vacation for you and your husband, FBI profiler Benton Wesley—not because President Barack Obama is visiting Cambridge, but because a deranged sniper has come to town.

Shortly after everyone’s favorite forensic pathologist (Dust, 2013, etc.) receives a sinister email from a correspondent dubbed Copperhead, she goes outside to find seven pennies—all polished, all turned heads-up, all dated 1981—on her garden wall. Clearly there’s trouble afoot, though she’s not sure what form it will take until five minutes later, when a call from her old friend and former employee Pete Marino, now a detective with the Cambridge Police, summons her to the scene of a shooting. Jamal Nari was a high school music teacher who became a minor celebrity when his name was mistakenly placed on a terrorist watch list; he claimed government persecution, and he ended up having a beer with the president. Now he’s in the news for quite a different reason. Bizarrely, the first tweets announcing his death seem to have preceded it by 45 minutes. And Leo Gantz, a student at Nari’s school, has confessed to his murder, even though he couldn’t possibly have done it. But these complications are only the prelude to a banquet of homicide past and present, as Scarpetta and Marino realize when they link Nari’s murder to a series of killings in New Jersey. For a while, the peripheral presence of the president makes you wonder if this will be the case that finally takes the primary focus off the investigator’s private life. But most of the characters are members of Scarpetta’s entourage, the main conflicts involve infighting among the regulars, and the killer turns out to be a familiar nemesis Scarpetta thought she’d left for dead several installments back. As if.

No wonder Scarpetta asks, “When did my workplace become such a soap opera?” Answer: at least 10 years ago.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-232534-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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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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