Despite an awkward transition or two and a bit of padding (there’s a recipe for Welsh rarebit), the Bell series hits the...

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THE CUTTHROAT

It’s No. 10 in the Cussler and Scott (The Gangster, 2016, etc.) series chronicling the adventures of rich man–sleuth Isaac Bell and the Van Dorn Detective Agency as the 20th century dawns.

It’s 1911, and Bell’s promised a Connecticut millionaire he’ll find his daughter, a young woman who left the lap of luxury and went missing among the wanna-be actors, money-grubbing producers, and crooked agents of New York City’s theater district. Bell finds her, but too late. The girl’s been murdered. Bell is distraught, angry, and now feels compelled to catch her killer. Soon Van Dorn’s research group unearths other murders with similar modus operandi—laid open with a large knife, up close and personal—from as far away as Jack the Ripper’s London to New York and to cities across the country as far as Los Angeles. Tracing the elusive killer, Bell forms a "Cutthroat Squad," a double-handful of tougher-than-nails Van Dorn detectives. Bell and squad soon figure out the murders are occurring wherever a touring theater group is presenting the play Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The narrative makes stopovers at the Savile Club in Mayfair and NYC’s Knickerbocker Hotel, and as with nearly every Cussler tome, contemporary gadgetry—a Morkrum Printing Telegraph, an Atlantic 4-4-2 Deaver-built locomotive—adds authenticity to the period setting. It’s an action-packed, fast-moving, but not especially gory story, with pauses for Bell to use his fists or .45 or flaunt his wealth. Famous folk like Caruso make cameos, but Bell, an engrossing-enough meld of Dudley Do-Right and James Bond, and his cohort of detectives get their man.

Despite an awkward transition or two and a bit of padding (there’s a recipe for Welsh rarebit), the Bell series hits the right note for those who like crime fiction with a unique setting.

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-57560-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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Boasting one of the freshest and most unlikely duos to appear in crime fiction in some time, the latest thriller by...

THE DEAD STUDENT

Convinced that the shooting death of his psychiatrist uncle was murder—not a suicide, as ruled—a Miami Ph.D. student with a binge-drinking problem turns to his high school girlfriend to help him uncover the truth.

Timothy Warner, known as Moth, has long depended upon his Uncle Ed, who had drinking issues of his own, in times of crisis. He knew Ed well enough to know that he would never have shot himself, no matter how convinced the police are that he did. Not knowing whom else to call for help, he contacts his old flame Andrea Martine. Known as Andy Candy, she's in a fragile state herself, still recovering from an unprosecuted case of date rape and from having her heart broken by Moth. But though she's reluctant to see him again, her devotion slowly returns. With all their quirks and foibles, they make an unusually appealing team. When the narrative is taken over by the smugly self-admiring Student #5, a former student of Ed's who is stalking old professors he has grudges against, the book becomes more predictable. As devious as Student #5 is, he meets his match in Moth and Andy. "You're not a cop. You don't know anything about killing," Andy says to Moth early on. "I'm a fast learner," he replies.

Boasting one of the freshest and most unlikely duos to appear in crime fiction in some time, the latest thriller by Katzenbach (Red 1-2-3, 2013) is one of his most enjoyable.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8021-2337-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Mysterious Press

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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Since the possibility that Woods will kill off virtually his entire stable of regulars (Unnatural Acts, 2012, etc.) is too...

SEVERE CLEAR

What chance does a cabal of bombers have against New York uber-lawyer Stone Barrington; his ex–NYPD partner, Lt. Dino Bacchetti; the CIA’s Holly Barker; head of MI-6, Felicity Devonshire; CEO of Strategic Services, Michael Freeman; Woodman & Weld attorney, Herb Fisher; President Will Lee; and his wife, Katharine, Director of the CIA?

Determined to avenge the killing of Osama bin Laden, an agent calling himself Algernon has recruited a Pakistani nuclear scientist gone freelance and a trio of lower-level experts to sneak a bomb into the new Los Angeles hotel where President Lee is to meet with his Mexican counterpart for some high-level talks. It’s their bad luck that from a distant cellphone conversation in a foreign language, the NSA’s computers pick up two English words: “The Arrington.” The Arrington just happens to be the brand-new hotel memorializing the late actress Arrington Carter, co-owned by Stone, Strategic Services and Superlative Hotel Management, that’s about to open by playing host to the two heads of state and incidentally, a rare concert by Hollywood musical star Immi Gotham. Algernon estimates 2-3 million fatalities from the blast, but that’s only if he and his minions can embed themselves in trusted positions in the hotel, smuggle in the nuclear device’s component parts, assemble, arm and detonate it, all without arousing enough suspicion to be unmasked. What are the odds?

Since the possibility that Woods will kill off virtually his entire stable of regulars (Unnatural Acts, 2012, etc.) is too remote to generate much suspense, fans of this series are left to enjoy the sex, the bling and the reassurance that in Stone’s world, “Sometimes everything goes right” with less effort, error and complexity than you could ever hope for in real life.

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-399-15984-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2012

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