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An entertaining, quick beach read with memorable mismatched sleuths.

Cochran’s cozy mystery revisits a 20-year-old case concerning the mysterious disappearance of three men who lived in an old mansion.

In the northeastern town of Stillwell sits a mansion built in the late 19th century and purchased by health-products guru Asa Marlowe in the 1940s. After Asa’s death, his impressive fortune, including the mansion, was inherited by his son, Asa Marlowe II, commonly called Junior. In time, Junior also had a son, Asa Marlowe III, called Three. Junior and Three lived in the mansion with their wives, Eunice and Carmela. Then there was Roscoe Savini and his wife, Felicia; town gossip holds that Roscoe was Junior’s illegitimate son, born around the same time as Three. Two decades ago, all three men disappeared. In the present, Eunice, Carmela, and Felicia live in the mansion. Retired Stillwell PD detective Harvey Hawkshaw is watching television when he sees a news report on the 20th anniversary of the disappearance—it had been Harvey’s case, the one that still haunts him (“‘Same as it was 20 years ago, Fluffy,’” he says to his cat. “‘I thought those biddies did it, but I couldn’t crack that case. Cold then and cold now’”). A $150,000 reward is offered for solving the mystery. Two young boys digging around on the Marlow property discover a long-buried body. Could this be one of the missing men? It’s time for Harvey to put his detective’s cap back on. Hanging out at his go-to diner, Harvey runs into a fast-talking jokester who goes by the name Flywheel. Harvey takes Flywheel on as his investigative trainee—Cochran has created the genre’s newest delightful odd-couple detective duo. This is a romp of an investigative procedural, low on action and tension, that mixes a bit of slapstick comedy with a heavy dose of jovial, sometimes silly, sometimes clever, repartee. With a cadre of quirky supporting characters and a plethora of decadeslong secrets waiting to be exposed, the narrative amuses and intrigues. There are enough twists to keep readers scratching their heads, and Harvey and Flywheel develop into enjoyable, fully fledged characters that appear likely to helm a sequel.

An entertaining, quick beach read with memorable mismatched sleuths.

Pub Date: March 6, 2023

ISBN: 9798987764497

Page Count: 302

Publisher: Book Writer Corner

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2023

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

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. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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A brutal, gripping look at murder in a self-enclosed community with many secrets to hide.

When two police officers stop for a bit of dalliance, screams from the nearby woods introduce them to a puzzling and horrifying murder.

Chuck Skidmore and Mona Kurtz don’t arrive in time to rescue a man who’s being burned at the stake, a sight that will haunt their dreams. Police Chief Kate Burkholder arrives on the scene with her husband, John Tomasetti, an agent of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, who’ll join her and many other cops in a task force investigating the bizarre murder. Born Amish, Kate ran away from Painters Mill, found her vocation in law enforcement, and eventually came home as the police department’s chief. Over the years, she’s built up some trust with the local Amish community, who generally prefer to keep their problems to themselves. The victim is Milan Swanz, a troubled former schoolmate of Kate’s whom she’s arrested several times. A divorced man with four children, he’d been recently excommunicated by the Amish. Although Milan was far from popular, Kate meets a wall of silence from even her own brother, one of many people who had disputes with the hot-tempered man. Kate’s theory of the crime, based on stories in a book popular with the Amish, is so bizarre that she has trouble believing it herself. When her brother is arrested, she’s removed from the task force but continues to investigate, putting her in the sights of some very determined killers.

A brutal, gripping look at murder in a self-enclosed community with many secrets to hide.

Pub Date: July 9, 2024

ISBN: 9781250781116

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2024

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