Sometimes informative and sometimes murky but overall a rewarding journey to Absaroka County.

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LAND OF WOLVES

Sheriff Longmire untangles a nasty family snarl.

Back from Mexico, where his war against a drug lord (Depth of Winter, 2018) very nearly cost him his life, Walt Longmire, Sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming, is having trouble regaining his strength and characteristic swagger. Things at first seem fairly straightforward: A wolf designated 777M may or may not have killed a sheep. Longmire and his undersheriff, Victoria Moretti, begin to investigate—the sheep’s DNA will be analyzed, a predator—wolf or mountain lion—will be identified. Either way, 777M has rattled the populace, and wolf panic has set in. It seems inevitable that 777M will be hunted down, and much as he regrets this, Longmire cannot do much to prevent it. Keasik Cheechoo ("Cree-Assiniboine/Young Dogs, Piapot First Nation, a Native wolf advocate,") appears to plead the wolf's case, but Absaroka County's legal structure has taken the process out of the sheriff's hands. Other Native characters contribute to the narrative: Henry Standing Bear, a Northern Cheyenne, offers Longmire counsel, and for a while it seems 777M may be a manifestation of the spirit of Virgil White Buffalo, who helped Longmire in the past. Henry Standing Bear is a vivid and appealing character, but the suggestion of a spiritual involvement is ultimately unrequited. As the investigation goes on, things get much more complicated. The sheep belonged to Abarrane Extepare, a second-generation Basque American and one of the richest men in Absaroka County, and was herded by a Chilean shepherd named Miguel Hernandez. When Longmire and Moretti find Hernandez, he has been hanged, and though suicide is a possibility, a reasonable case can be made for murder. The investigation widens, and the dynamics and particulars of sheep farming, of migrant labor and shepherding, and of land use in general are ably explored through the history of the Extepare family. And it is in the family that the mystery finally finds a structure and Longmire finds a solution.

Sometimes informative and sometimes murky but overall a rewarding journey to Absaroka County.

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-52250-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Inside this bloated novel is a lean thriller starring a strong and damaged protagonist who's as compelling as Lisbeth...

THE THIRD TO DIE

In Brennan’s (Nothing To Hide, 2019, etc.) new series launch, a hard-edged female LAPD undercover cop and an ambitious FBI special agent race to catch a serial killer before he strikes again.

On paid administrative leave since an incident with a suspect went wrong, a restless Detective Kara Quinn is on an early morning run in her hometown of Liberty Lake, Washington, when she discovers the flayed corpse of a young nurse. In D.C., FBI Special Agent in Charge Mathias Costa is staffing the new Mobile Response Team, designed to cover rural areas underserved by law enforcement, when his boss assigns Matt and analyst Ryder Kim to Liberty Lake. The notorious Triple Killer, who murders three random victims, three days apart, every three years, has returned. With only six days to identify and catch the culprit, and only three days until he kills again, the team is “on a very tight clock.” What should be on-the-edge-of-your-seat suspense turns into a slog marred by pedestrian prose (“she heard nothing except birds chirping…”), a convoluted plot slowed down by a focus on dull bureaucratic infighting, and flat character development. The sole exception is the vividly drawn Kara. Smart, angry, defensive, complicated, she fascinates both the reader and Matt ("Kara Quinn was different—and he couldn’t put his finger on why”).

Inside this bloated novel is a lean thriller starring a strong and damaged protagonist who's as compelling as Lisbeth Salander.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7783-0944-4

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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Sluggish plot hemmed in by too much backstory and going-through-the-motions prose. Not Brown’s best.

WHITE HOT

Lukewarm thriller from bestselling Brown (Hello, Darkness, 2003, etc.).

Sayre Hoyle doesn’t believe her brother Danny committed suicide, and she’s returned home to prove it—but it seems nothing ever changes in Destiny, Louisiana. The small town looks the same as ever, and the same good old boys are sitting in the same vinyl booths at the same diner, conniving and backstabbing and telling lies. Too bad one of them just happens to be Sayre’s daddy, Huff Hoyle. A self-made rich man in a poor parish, he owns a smoke-belching iron foundry, a hellish place that at least provides employment for the beaten-down men of Destiny. If industrial accidents do happen in one of ’em now and then, well, that’s God’s will. Tough-talking Huff don’t want the government OSHA boys anywhere near his foundry, and that goes double for union organizers and other un-American busybodies. Sayre’s heard it all before—and still doesn’t trust either him or her creepy older brother, Chris, who took so much pleasure in tormenting her when they were young. And there’s Huff’s new right-hand man, lawyer Beck Merchant, to contend with. What exactly does Beck stand to gain by his involvement with Huff and cronies? If only he weren’t so good-looking and sexy. . . . Back to the story: Did Slap Watkins, jug-eared, degenerate scion of inbred bayou-dwellers, kill gentleman Danny in a fit of rage when Danny refused to hire Slap’s fellow parolees? Nah. Slap doesn’t have the brains or coordination to kill a June bug. Back to the subplot: Will the tyrannical Huff resort to violence when his ironworkers defy him and go out on strike? And back to the reason Sayre hates Huff: He forced her to have an abortion, performed by an incompetent doctor who tied her, screaming, to the table in his back room. And now for the reason Beck hates Huff . . . .

Sluggish plot hemmed in by too much backstory and going-through-the-motions prose. Not Brown’s best.

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2004

ISBN: 0-7432-4553-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2004

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