Compelling characters and a sexy, angst-filled bunch of mysteries add up to a winning series debut.

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A BAD DAY FOR SUNSHINE

After ending the long-running Grim Reaper series (Summoned to Thirteenth Grave, 2019, etc.), Jones introduces a sexy, funny, tough new heroine in Sunshine Vicram, the police chief of Del Sol, New Mexico.

Sun fled her hometown years before after the horrifying experience of being kidnapped when she was 17—an experience she doesn’t talk about, though it’s never out of her mind. After becoming a police officer, she worked most recently only half an hour away in Santa Fe before her parents nominated her for chief without telling her. Now that she and her 14-year-old daughter, Auri, have settled into a cottage in her parents’ backyard, she lands a case that brings back all her worst fears and cracks open suppressed memories. Auri’s first day at school is blighted by mean girls and rumors that identify her as a police snitch. The best part of her day is meeting heart-stopping Cruz De los Santos, a talented poet who’s the coolest guy in school. Del Sol has a reputation as a place where weird things happen, but the toughest ordeal for Sun is seeing the man she’s loved forever. Levi Ravinder, owner of Dark River Shine distillery, is the successful member of a dysfunctional, crime-ridden family. At first he responds to her coolly, but the atmosphere between them is combustible. Then Marianna St. Aubin literally crashes into the police station to report the kidnapping of her daughter, Sybil. For years Sybil told her parents about dreams that she’d be taken and killed before her 15th birthday, but they never believed her. A desperate hunt for Sybil and Levi’s nephew, Jimmy, who has autism and is also missing, reveals the long-dead body of Levi’s uncle and the shack Sun suddenly realizes she was kept in after her abduction. Both Sun and Auri must fight to overcome the dangerous secrets that spring up from nowhere.

Compelling characters and a sexy, angst-filled bunch of mysteries add up to a winning series debut.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-14944-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: yesterday

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Great storytelling, a quirky hero, and a quirkier plot make this a winner for adventure fans.

CROOKED RIVER

FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast finds evil afoot in his latest action-filled adventure (Verses for the Dead, 2018, etc.).

Imagine Florida beachcombers’ shock when they discover a shoe with a severed foot inside. Soon they see dozens more feet, all in identical shoes, bobbing toward the beach. Police and FBI ultimately count more than a hundred of them washing up on Sanibel and Captiva Islands' tranquil shores. Pendergast teams up with the junior Special Agent Armstrong Coldmoon to investigate this strange phenomenon. Oceanographers use a supercomputer to analyze Gulf currents and attempt to determine where the feet entered the ocean. Were they dumped off a ship or an island? Does each one represent a homicide? Analysts examine chemical residues and pollen, even the angle of each foot’s amputation, but the puzzle defies all explanation. Attention focuses on Cuba, where “something terrible was happening” in front of a coastal prison, and on China, the apparent source of the shoes. The clever plot is “a most baffling case indeed” for the brilliant Pendergast, but it’s the type of problem he thrives on. He’s hardly a stereotypical FBI agent, given for example his lemon-colored silk suit, his Panama hat, and his legendary insistence on working alone—until now. Pendergast rarely blinks—perhaps, someone surmises, he’s part reptile. But equally odd is Constance Greene, his “extraordinarily beautiful,” smart, and sarcastic young “ward” who has “eyes that had seen everything and, as a result, were surprised by nothing.” Coldmoon is more down to earth: part Lakota, part Italian, and “every inch a Fed.” Add in murderous drug dealers, an intrepid newspaper reporter, coyotes crossing the U.S.–Mexico border, and a pissed-off wannabe graphic novelist, and you have a thoroughly entertaining cast of characters. There is plenty of suspense, and the action gets bloody.

Great storytelling, a quirky hero, and a quirkier plot make this a winner for adventure fans.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4725-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how...

THE A LIST

A convicted killer’s list of five people he wants dead runs the gamut from the wife he’s already had murdered to franchise heroine Ali Reynolds.

Back in the day, women came from all over to consult Santa Clarita fertility specialist Dr. Edward Gilchrist. Many of them left his care happily pregnant, never dreaming that the father of the babies they carried was none other than the physician himself, who donated his own sperm rather than that of the handsome, athletic, disease-free men pictured in his scrapbook. When Alexandra Munsey’s son, Evan, is laid low by the kidney disease he’s inherited from his biological father and she returns to Gilchrist in search of the donor’s medical records, the roof begins to fall in on him. By the time it’s done falling, he’s serving a life sentence in Folsom Prison for commissioning the death of his wife, Dawn, the former nurse and sometime egg donor who’d turned on him. With nothing left to lose, Gilchrist tattoos himself with the initials of five people he blames for his fall: Dawn; Leo Manuel Aurelio, the hit man he’d hired to dispose of her; Kaitlyn Todd, the nurse/receptionist who took Dawn’s place; Alex Munsey, whose search for records upset his apple cart; and Ali Reynolds, the TV reporter who’d helped put Alex in touch with the dozen other women who formed the Progeny Project because their children looked just like hers. No matter that Ali’s been out of both California and the news business for years; Gilchrist and his enablers know that revenge can’t possibly be served too cold. Wonder how far down that list they’ll get before Ali, aided once more by Frigg, the methodical but loose-cannon AI first introduced in Duel to the Death (2018), turns on them?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how little the boundary-challenged AI, who gets into the case more or less inadvertently, differs from your standard human sidekick with issues.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5101-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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