An intriguing, if occasionally awkward, cyberespionage thriller.

The eBay Plot

THE EBAY DETECTIVE BOOK ONE

U.S. Army major Brad Stout must go undercover into the cyberdepths of eBay to foil a deadly radioactive threat in the first book of Salter’s eBay Detective series.

The Army’s leading experts in weapons of mass destruction are being taken out one by one in suburban Maryland, just miles from where they serve their country as critical researchers. Brad, a decorated veteran of the Bethesda-based Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute, is hard at work piecing together a series of questionable purchases by anonymous eBay buyers. He devises a cunning online strategy, offering to sell radiobiological items on eBay, and soon, the prime suspect in the murders is in FBI custody. At home, he has a spinster sister, with whom he shares troubling memories of their abusive father, and a new fiancee, Mary Lou, who’s pregnant with twins. Brad’s ready to return to his normal life—until he receives an email from another anonymous buyer. Convinced that this new buyer is working with the first, Brad panics, believing that he, his fiancee and his sister could be the next casualties. He races to protect those he loves, while keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of a psychopath. Based on a true story, the engaging plot reaches back into World War II history and secret Nazi laboratories. Its prose and hackneyed dialogue don’t offer the same sense of excitement, however. For example, in the opening chapter, a villain fakes an injury, and when an innocent woman asks what she can do to help him, he replies, “You can die!”; in a later scene, when a character asks the same villain what he should do with some sensitive materials, he replies, “You can take them to your grave!” The novel’s structure is repetitive, as well, with Brad alternating between the government facility, his eBay basement and his girlfriend’s home. The bond shared between Brad and his sister feels genuine and lends them some depth, but Mary Lou is depicted as an overseasoned Cajun stereotype.

An intriguing, if occasionally awkward, cyberespionage thriller.

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2012

ISBN: 978-1621474920

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Tate Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2013

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An anodyne visit with Tricia and her friends and enemies hung on a thin mystery.

A KILLER EDITION

Too much free time leads a New Hampshire bookseller into yet another case of murder.

Now that Tricia Miles has Pixie Poe and Mr. Everett practically running her bookstore, Haven’t Got a Clue, she finds herself at loose ends. Her wealthy sister, Angelica, who in the guise of Nigela Ricita has invested heavily in making Stoneham a bookish tourist attraction, is entering the amateur competition for the Great Booktown Bake-Off. So Tricia, who’s recently taken up baking as a hobby, decides to join her and spends a lot of time looking for the perfect cupcake recipe. A visit to another bookstore leaves Tricia witnessing a nasty argument between owner Joyce Widman and next-door neighbor Vera Olson over the trimming of tree branches that hang over Joyce’s yard—also overheard by new town police officer Cindy Pearson. After Tricia accepts Joyce’s offer of some produce from her garden, they find Vera skewered by a pitchfork, and when Police Chief Grant Baker arrives, Joyce is his obvious suspect. Ever since Tricia moved to Stoneham, the homicide rate has skyrocketed (Poisoned Pages, 2018, etc.), and her history with Baker is fraught. She’s also become suspicious about the activities at Pets-A-Plenty, the animal shelter where Vera was a dedicated volunteer. Tricia’s offered her expertise to the board, but president Toby Kingston has been less than welcoming. With nothing but baking on her calendar, Tricia has plenty of time to investigate both the murder and her vague suspicions about the shelter. Plenty of small-town friendships and rivalries emerge in her quest for the truth.

An anodyne visit with Tricia and her friends and enemies hung on a thin mystery.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0272-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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Joe’s fifth case is his best balanced, most deeply felt and most mystifying to date: an absolute must.

OUT OF RANGE

Crime-fighting Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett outdoes himself during a temporary transfer from sleepy Saddlestring to fashionable Jackson Hole.

Will Jensen, the Jackson game warden, was a great guy and a model warden, but once his wife left him six months ago, he spiraled into madness and suicide, and now Joe’s been called to replace him. The transition is anything but smooth. There’s no question of Joe’s family coming with him, so he’s reduced to hoping he can get a signal for the cell-phone calls he squeezes into his busy schedule. En route to his new posting, Joe has to pursue a marauding grizzly. He arrives to meet a formidable series of challenges. Cantankerous outfitter Smoke Van Horn wants to go on attracting elk with illegal salt licks without the new warden’s interference. Animal Liberation Network activist Pi Stevenson wants him to publicize her cause and adopt a vegan diet. Developer Don Ennis wants to open a housing development for millionaires who like their meat free of additives. Ennis’s trophy wife Stella simply wants Joe—and he wants her back. As he wrestles with these demands, and with a supervisor riled over Joe’s track record of destroying government property in pursuit of bad guys (Trophy Hunt, 2004, etc.), Joe slowly becomes convinced that Will did not kill himself.

Joe’s fifth case is his best balanced, most deeply felt and most mystifying to date: an absolute must.

Pub Date: May 5, 2005

ISBN: 0-399-15291-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

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