An easy-listening whodunit that brings its likable hero one step closer to the success he dreams of.

THE MAN WHO WASN'T ALL THERE

Novelist/ghostwriter Stewart Hoag’s latest attempt to get away from it all lands him in the middle of it all for the 12th time.

As 1993 draws to a close, Hoagy feels that he’s back. Not entirely back, since he’s still divorced from movie star Merilee Nash and still a one-trick novelist after 10 years. But, warmed by the hospitality of his ex, who’s loaned him her Central Park West apartment while she’s in Hungary shooting The Sun Also Rises, he’s finished 100 pages of that elusive second novel. Craving a break, he borrows Merilee’s car and drives out to her place in Connecticut, fully aware that his last stay in Lyme was marred by murder most foul. Shortly after his arrival, he’s accosted by auxiliary state trooper Austin Talmadge, who demands to see Merilee and vows reprisals if he doesn’t. Austin, as Hoagy soon learns, is "a highly unstable, anti-social delusional psychotic who has the emotional maturity of a ten-year-old boy" and a billionaire whose wealth is eclipsed only by that of attorney Michael Talmadge, his brother and trustee. For years, Michael has paid child psychologist Dr. Annabeth McKenna, of the Yale School of Medicine, $1 million a year to keep his brother in line. This year it’s not enough. Detained, sedated, and locked away, Austin easily escapes, kidnaps Hoagy and his beloved basset hound, Lulu, and imprisons them in a root cellar on Mount Creepy. His long-range plans, whatever they are, are scuttled when his throat is cut. Since Austin’s lifelong campaign of nasty tricks on virtually everyone in New London County gave them all a grudge against him, which of his many victims has finally turned on him?

An easy-listening whodunit that brings its likable hero one step closer to the success he dreams of.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7278-9248-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Severn House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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Not the best of Connelly’s procedurals, but nobody else does them better than his second-best.

DESERT STAR

A snap of the yo-yo string yanks Harry Bosch out of retirement yet again.

Los Angeles Councilman Jake Pearlman has resurrected the LAPD’s Open-Unsolved Unit in order to reopen the case of his kid sister, Sarah, whose 1994 murder was instantly eclipsed in the press by the O.J. Simpson case when it broke a day later. Since not even a councilor can reconstitute a police unit for a single favored case, Det. Renée Ballard and her mostly volunteer (read: unpaid) crew are expected to reopen some other cold cases as well, giving Bosch a fresh opportunity to gather evidence against Finbar McShane, the crooked manager he’s convinced executed industrial contractor Stephen Gallagher, his wife, and their two children in 2013 and buried them in a single desert grave. The case has haunted Bosch more than any other he failed to close, and he’s fine to work the Pearlman homicide if it’ll give him another crack at McShane. As it turns out, the Pearlman case is considerably more interesting—partly because the break that leads the unit to a surprising new suspect turns out to be both fraught and misleading, partly because identifying the killer is only the beginning of Bosch’s problems. The windup of the Gallagher murders, a testament to sweating every detail and following every lead wherever it goes, is more heartfelt but less wily and dramatic. Fans of the aging detective who fear that he might be mellowing will be happy to hear that “putting him on a team did not make him a team player.”

Not the best of Connelly’s procedurals, but nobody else does them better than his second-best.

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-48565-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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Fascinating main characters and a clever plot add up to an exciting read.

LONG SHADOWS

A thriller with bloody murders and plenty of suspects and featuring an unlikely partnership between two FBI investigators.

FBI consultant Amos Decker has a lot on his mind. The huge fellow once played for the Cleveland Browns in the NFL until he received a catastrophic brain injury, leaving him with synesthesia; he sees death as electric blue. More pertinent to the plot, he also has hyperthymesia, or spontaneous and highly accurate recall. On the one hand, his memories can be horrible. He’d once come home to find his wife and daughter murdered, dead in pools of blood. Later, he listens helplessly on the telephone while his ex-partner shoots herself in the mouth. On the other hand, his memory helps him solve every case he's given. Now he's sent to Florida with a brand-new partner, Special Agent Frederica White, to investigate the murder of a federal judge. Both partners are pissed at their last-minute pairing, and they immediately see themselves as a bad fit. White is a diminutive Black single mother of two who has a double black belt in karate “because I hate getting my ass kicked.” (The author doesn't mention Decker's race, but since he's being contrasted with his new partner in every way, perhaps readers are expected to see him as White. Clarity would be nice.) Their case is strange: Judge Julia Cummins was stabbed 10 times and her face covered with a mask, while her bodyguard was shot to death. Decker and White puzzle over the “very contrarian crime scene” where two murders seem to have been committed by two different people in the same place. The plot gets complex, with suspects galore. But the interpersonal dynamic between Decker and White is just as interesting as the solution to the murders, which doesn't come easily. At first, they’d like to be done with each other and go their separate ways. But as they work together, their mutual respect rises and—alas—the tension between them fades almost completely. The pair will make a great series duo, especially if a bit of that initial tension between them returns. And Baldacci shouldn’t give Decker a pass on his tortured memories, because readers enjoy suffering heroes. It's not enough that his near-perfect recall helps him in his job.

Fascinating main characters and a clever plot add up to an exciting read.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5387-1982-4

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2022

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