A sweet and often amusing animal-centered whodunit.

COLD SNAP

A VIKING CAT MYSTERY

A murder disrupts the peaceful mountain town, and an irrepressible Norwegian Forest cat, along with a posse of dogs and a potbellied pig, is determined to find the culprit in this mystery.

Schneider’s clever tale opens with feline Bijou Bonanno discovering a lifeless body lying by the river. The usually feisty cat is stunned, as she immediately recognizes the face of the deceased; readers, however, don’t learn the victim’s identity until well into the novel. After this initial discovery, the story jumps back two months, recounting events leading up to the dastardly deed. Bijou, who takes her “Viking” heritage quite seriously, is an entertaining narrator, and within a few pages she’ll have readers chuckling; as a result, they’ll be willing to toss disbelief to the wind when they find out that she’s the manager of the town of Grey Birch’s Fox Burrow Pet Inn, assisted by her tiny Pomeranian partner, Skunk. (Both animals belong to Spencer Bonanno, the inn’s winsome human owner.) One day in early spring, a new guest, Eddy Line, enters the inn with his two pets—Hamlet, a baby potbellied pig, and Fennec, a frightened rescue pit bull puppy. Eddie’s just purchased the town’s old firehouse, where he plans to open the Witching Flour bakery; renovation of the building’s upstairs apartment isn’t yet complete, so he and his animals will be staying at the inn. Then somebody cuts the gas line to the firehouse, leaving a threatening note behind. There is a genuine mystery at the heart of the novel, and a disturbing animal-cruelty issue rears its head at one point, but for the most part, this is a jovial fantasy jaunt. The four-legged protagonists, including a few additional secondary players from the forest, are smart characters and have articulate conversations, and Bijou, the fearless, ever imaginative leader of the pack, is snarky but lovable and kind. Schneider is generally a skillful wordsmith, although her persistent use of the first-person subjective pronoun (“Tahereh walked over and gave Spencer and I a one-armed hug”) is surprising and disappointing.

A sweet and often amusing animal-centered whodunit.

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 264

Publisher: SparkPress

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2021

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A smart summer escape.

PORTRAIT OF AN UNKNOWN WOMAN

Silva’s latest Gabriel Allon novel is a bit of a throwback—in the best possible way.

One-time assassin and legendary spymaster Gabriel Allon has finally retired. After saying farewell to his friends and colleagues in Israel, he moves with his wife, Chiara, and their two young children to a piano nobile overlooking Venice’s Grand Canal. His plan is to return to the workshop where he learned to restore paintings as an employee—but only after he spends several weeks recovering from the bullet wound that left him dead for several minutes in The Cellist (2021). Of course, no one expects Gabriel to entirely withdraw from the field, and, sure enough, a call from his friend and occasional asset Julian Isherwood sends him racing around the globe on the trail of art forgers who are willing to kill to protect their extremely lucrative enterprise. Silva provides plenty of thrills and, as usual, offers a glimpse into the lifestyles of the outrageously wealthy. In the early books in this series, it was Gabriel’s work as an art restorer that set him apart from other action heroes, and his return to that world is the most rewarding part of this installment. It is true that, at this point in his storied career, Gabriel has become a nearly mythic figure. And Silva is counting on a lot of love—and willing suspension of disbelief—when Gabriel whips up four old master canvases that fool the world’s leading art experts as a lure for the syndicate selling fake paintings. That said, as Silva explains in an author’s note, the art market is rife with secrecy, subterfuge, and wishful thinking, in no small part because it is almost entirely unregulated. And, if anyone can crank out a Titian, a Tintoretto, a Gentileschi, and a Veronese in a matter of days, it’s Gabriel Allon. The author’s longtime fans may breathe a sigh of relief that this entry is relatively free of politics and the pandemic is nowhere in sight.

A smart summer escape.

Pub Date: July 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-283485-0

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Harper

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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Terrifying, primal, and very, very tense. Read it with your heart in your throat—but read it.

ONE STEP TOO FAR

Frankie Elkin, a miraculous finder of missing persons, seeks a man who wandered into the wilderness and was never seen again.

Last seen rescuing a missing teenager from the gritty streets of Boston, Frankie embarks from a bus in Ramsey, Wyoming, drawn in by the story of hiker Timothy O’Day, who's been missing for five years, and the last-gasp efforts of his father, Martin, to search for his remains. Frankie has some regrets about leaving Boston, but she's called to find those others have given up on. She manages to finagle her way on to the search party, which in addition to Martin includes a local guide; a search-and-rescue dog and her handler; a Bigfoot expert; and Tim’s friends, who were in the woods with him when he went missing. In the years since, they’ve moved on with their lives, but they are carrying guilt and secrets about the night Tim disappeared. As they all head into the unforgiving wilderness, it quickly becomes apparent that someone is deeply threatened by this effort to find Tim’s body. As she endeavors to draw the truth from each member of the search party, Frankie can tell that she's in over her head, and not only because she’s an inexperienced outdoorswoman. Could Tim still be alive and looking for revenge, or is there a more dangerous secret that someone would kill to protect? Gardner is incredibly skilled at developing tension and suspense; she’s equally skilled at slowly revealing complex characters and their secrets. Both gifts reinforce each other in this novel. If Frankie is out of her element, so are we: It’s not often that a thriller so deeply casts us into the darkness of both nature and the human heart.

Terrifying, primal, and very, very tense. Read it with your heart in your throat—but read it.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-18541-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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