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Monaco, fast cars, rich women, bad Bosnians—what more is there?

Simon Riske returns for another car-studded adventure.

Riske is a restorer of high-end automobiles—Ferraris, Bugattis, that sort of thing—who moonlights as a problem-solver to the wealthy, and this second caper (The Take, 2018) takes him to southern France and Monaco in the service of Toby Stonewood, managing partner of the Casino de Monte-Carlo. Toby has been losing money, millions of dollars, from his casino, and he wants Riske to try to uncover how he is being cheated and who is doing it. Riske is well-qualified to undertake this assignment, having spent his younger years with the Corsican mob and being familiar with the ways of gangsters. His cover will be that he is to take part in the Concours d'Élégance scheduled there and drive in a time trial. When fate drops a Ferrari Daytona in his figurative lap, Riske is off to the races. After minor complications on French highways, Riske arrives in Monte Carlo and quickly identifies the individuals involved in the casino scam. In addition, he makes the acquaintance of Vika, a particularly compelling woman, and allows himself to become involved in her problems. Vika's mother has recently died in an automobile accident—the authorities rule it suicide, but Vika knows that cannot be correct, because her mother had poor vision and rarely drove at all and never at night. Further, Vika's mother left Vika a disturbing voicemail that suggests she felt herself to be in some danger. Riske and Vika meet circumstantially, and Riske helps Vika try to sort out what really happened. After Vika is threatened, then assaulted, Riske intervenes and learns she is in fact a princess and also that her assailants are members of the same Bosnian gang that is bleeding the casino. Unraveling the connection, rescuing the princess, and driving fast cars exceedingly well keep Riske busy. Falling in love, even with a princess, seems a little déclassé for Simon Riske, whose loner identity was molded in a French prison, but Vika seems a pretty nice girl, and she's worth billions.

Monaco, fast cars, rich women, bad Bosnians—what more is there?

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-34239-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Mulholland Books/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 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. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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