Finally, a professional-grade detection-cum-actioner with a hero who actually has a logical reason for being so emotionally...


The versatile Knopf (Tango Down, 2017, etc.) kicks off a new series starring a reluctant investigator who’s “like the Terminator with an advanced degree.”

Not many people recover from childhood autism, but Waters did, more or less. He’s so good at reading other poker players’ tells that he’s been banned from the casinos, and fellow player Paresh Rajput naturally hired him as an organizational psychologist for his firm, ExciteAble Technologies. But he still won’t tell anyone his first name, he looks everyone he meets unflinchingly in the eye, and he’s taken a married lover, Olivia Lefèvre, who doesn’t love him any more than he loves her. Waters’ orderly life ends when he comes home from the gym to find Paresh’s severed head sitting on the floor of his guest room (the rest of his body will soon turn up in Waters’ storage locker). Megan Rajput and Waters’ co-workers at ExciteAble all seem above suspicion, but that doesn’t matter anyway because DS Noah Shapiro, of the New Haven Police Department, is sure that Waters is his killer. As the evidence against him mounts, so does the danger. The real murderer alternately taunts and threatens Waters over the telephone, arranges for suspiciously large cash transfers from Paresh’s bank account to his own, plants firecrackers in the hotel room the crime-scene crew has obliged him to hole up in, sends a burly thug to beat him up, and finally resorts to settling their dispute the good old American way, by shooting at him. Through it all, Waters remains, if not exactly ebullient, then certainly dispassionate as he returns the threats, dodges the firecrackers and bullets, and, fortified by years of wrestling and bodybuilding, turns the tables on the thug en route to exposing a nefarious, if not exactly unexpected, scheme against ExciteAble Technologies.

Finally, a professional-grade detection-cum-actioner with a hero who actually has a logical reason for being so emotionally disengaged. More, please.

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-57962-566-5

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Permanent Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.


Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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


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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