Despite a few lapses in style and continuity, Keeley (This One Day, as K.A. Delaney, 2014, etc.) writes convincingly about...

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BITTER CROSSING

A border agent tries to break up a smuggling ring in this series debut.

U.S. Border Patrol agent Peyton Cote knew what she was getting into when she asked for a transfer from Texas back to her hometown of Garrett, Maine. The tiny border town is in Aroostook County, which has a landmass as great as Connecticut and Rhode Island combined and two chief sources of income: potatoes and trees. Its highly forested border with New Brunswick makes it an ideal port of entry for smugglers, and Peyton is poised to make a drug bust from a tip she got from a high school classmate. She’s astonished when the sack she finds in a potato field contains not primo marijuana but a baby. As a single mother, she’s glad she saved the infant, but she’s frustrated about the drug bust that didn’t go down. Her informant steers her toward her high school history teacher, a University of Maine professor and a Boston lawyer who are working together for what they insist is a good purpose. Peyton has her suspicions, however, as she does about her brother-in-law and the possibility of a turncoat agent on the job. Her ex-husband’s hope of getting back together with her, attentions from other single men in Garrett, the disappearance of the rescued baby, two shootings and the obligatory moose incident add to the complications in Peyton’s attempts to do her job and rebuild a life in her hometown. Though Peyton’s far from the warmth of Texas, her diligence, courage and fortitude—qualities she developed in a region where winter begins in October and seems to last forever—serve her well in her personal and professional challenges.

Despite a few lapses in style and continuity, Keeley (This One Day, as K.A. Delaney, 2014, etc.) writes convincingly about New England and the rugged people who call it home.

Pub Date: Aug. 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7387-4068-3

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Midnight Ink/Llewellyn

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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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

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Child builds tension to unbearable extremes, then blows it out in sharply choreographed violence, even if his plot has more...

ECHO BURNING

From the Jack Reacher series , Vol. 5

Smashingly suspenseful fifth in Child’s series (Running Blind, 2000, etc.) lands this British author’s rootless, laconic action hero in southwest Texas, where a femme fatale lures him into a family squabble that inevitably turns violent.

In the kind of daylight-noir setting that Jim Thompson loved, ex-military cop Jack Reacher has his thumb out on a lonely west Texas highway when he’s picked up by Carmine Greer, the Mexican-American wife of bad-ol’-boy Sloop Greer. It seems that Sloop, elder son of a white-trash-turned-oil-rich ranching dynasty, is nearing the end of a prison term for tax evasion, and Carmine, whose body Reacher sees is marked with signs of physical abuse, wants Reacher to be her bodyguard—or, failing that, kill the man in such a way that Carmine can still hold on to her terminally cute six-year-old daughter Ellie. Reacher refuses but decides to meet the folks: Rusty, Sloop’s racist, charmless mother, and Bobby, Sloop’s stupid, pugnacious brother. Meanwhile, a trio of paid assassins is littering the Texas roadside with corpses, starting with Sloop’s lawyer, Al Eugene. In a set-piece as good as anything in Elmore Leonard, Bobby sends two ranch-hands to ambush Reacher at an Abilene roadhouse filled with 20 other cowboys spoiling for a fight. Reacher walks away without a scratch, telling Bobby that his hospitalized ranch-hands have “quit.” Child twists his increasingly hokey plot into a pretzel when Sloop is found dead and Carmine confesses to killing him. Reacher just can’t believe that Carmine is guilty and teams up with Alice Aarons, a leggy Jewish lesbian fresh out of law school, who trusts him with her car, her handgun, and her life.

Child builds tension to unbearable extremes, then blows it out in sharply choreographed violence, even if his plot has more holes in it than the shirt Reacher uses for target practice.

Pub Date: July 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-399-14726-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2001

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