Thrilling addition to the field of mystery series featuring strong female protagonists; hopefully, Allison Baca’s future...

TOO CLOSE TO HOME

AN ALLISON BACA MYSTERY

A retired cop must unravel a gritty mystery before assassins hired to kill her finish the job.

Allison Baca’s abrupt retirement from the San Francisco police was newsworthy enough; the local media enjoyed dealing with the beautiful, talented spokesperson. But Allison soon makes the news for another reason—killing her attempted murderer in her living room. Recovering from her injuries at her parents’ home, Allison investigates the link between her attack and an earlier meeting with a pedophile developer, Paul Albert, who expressed interest in hiring her as a private investigator. Allison’s gruesome discovery, quickly followed by a second attempt on her life, draws her former boss—and the principal reason for her resignation—Lt. Phillip McCarthy deeper into the case, and into Allison’s life. In a decision that will raise warning flags in the mind of anyone who has ever seen a horror movie, McCarthy, Allison and her father Ross travel to the family’s remote mountain cabin (with limited cell coverage) for Allison’s protection. Unbeknownst to them, Allison’s third potential hitman is very familiar with the area and seems destined to meet with success. Told from multiple points of view, the novel is an engrossing, fast-paced page-turner. Smith even manages to imbue the hitmen with sympathetic qualities. Smith touches upon many seamier aspects of 21st century crime—pedophilia, human trafficking, meth addiction and Aryan gangs—Smith doesn’t lose touch with of a traditional mystery/thriller. Portions of the plot may require some suspension of disbelief; it’s never clear how Allison and McCarthy transition so quickly from adversaries to potential lovers, for example. But Smith demonstrates such skill in building suspense, such as when Ross and McCarthy’s dithering on their approach to the cabin leaves Allison vulnerable, that readers will be captivated regardless.

Thrilling addition to the field of mystery series featuring strong female protagonists; hopefully, Allison Baca’s future cases will be as enjoyable as this one.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1466382817

Page Count: -

Publisher: Smashwords

Review Posted Online: Oct. 4, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

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

Did you like this book?

A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be...

BADLANDS

Box takes another break from his highly successful Joe Pickett series (Stone Cold, 2014, etc.) for a stand-alone about a police detective, a developmentally delayed boy, and a package everyone in North Dakota wants to grab.

Cassandra Dewell can’t leave Montana’s Lewis and Clark County fast enough for her new job as chief investigator for Jon Kirkbride, sheriff of Bakken County. She leaves behind no memories worth keeping: her husband is dead, her boss has made no bones about disliking her, and she’s looking forward to new responsibilities and the higher salary underwritten by North Dakota’s sudden oil boom. But Bakken County has its own issues. For one thing, it’s cold—a whole lot colder than the coldest weather Cassie’s ever imagined. For another, the job she turns out to have been hired for—leading an investigation her new boss doesn’t feel he can entrust to his own force—makes her queasy. The biggest problem, though, is one she doesn’t know about until it slaps her in the face. A fatal car accident that was anything but accidental has jarred loose a stash of methamphetamines and cash that’s become the center of a battle between the Sons of Freedom, Bakken County’s traditional drug sellers, and MS-13, the Salvadorian upstarts who are muscling in on their territory. It’s a setup that leaves scant room for law enforcement officers or for Kyle Westergaard, the 12-year-old paperboy damaged since birth by fetal alcohol syndrome, who’s walked away from the wreck with a prize all too many people would kill for.

A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be welcome to return and tie up the gaping loose end Box leaves. The unrelenting cold makes this the perfect beach read.

Pub Date: July 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-58321-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more