Seamless blending of stories and first-rate characterizations.


In the third thriller to feature Ross Cortese (The Broderick Curse, 2009, etc.), the detective contends with both a killer targeting landlords and a Russian assassin out for retribution.

In 1993 New York, Lt. Cortese connects the murder of two landlords before a third man survives an attack. Cortese is unaware that Doschenko, a former KGB agent on the run, is in the city and looking for payback, blaming the lieutenant for his exile. Cortese’s Austrian girlfriend, Willi, with whom he’s recently rekindled a romance, may also be in danger, while real estate businessman, Mo Marquette, finds enjoyment in the recent murders—but is he the killer? Peretz’s novel comprises two concurrent stories—the ongoing investigation and Doschenko’s revenge—but the dual plots enhance each other. In fact, they get equal airtime, and when one slows down, the other picks up. For example, when the Russian makes a move with disastrous consequences, resulting in lengthy hospital scenes, the landlord case keeps rolling, zeroing in on feuding men in real estate. And the separation of plots ultimately makes the both of them stronger: Watching the cops endure a tragic event adds dimension to the characters, and seeing the landlords’ side of the investigation, instead of a solely procedural view, gives that story more texture. The author fills the pages with a diverse assortment of characters, some of whom have appeared in previous books—Cortese’s wisecracking partner, Sgt. Kelsey; Detective Ruth Wilson, a former FBI profiler; Detective Sal McDevitt, the protagonist’s girlfriend in between time with Willi; and Mo, whose affair is offset by the fact that a divorce from his wife would mean losing his job and all of his money. But none compare to Doschenko, who has a cold, calculated demeanor that inspires unease; he’s being paid for an assassination, but the job is a labor of love. The book is sizable but feels like a quick read thanks to short chapters and a lively bouncing back and forth between the two stories.

Seamless blending of stories and first-rate characterizations.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2012

ISBN: 978-1448696970

Page Count: 344

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2013

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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. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be...


Box takes another break from his highly successful Joe Pickett series (Stone Cold, 2014, etc.) for a stand-alone about a police detective, a developmentally delayed boy, and a package everyone in North Dakota wants to grab.

Cassandra Dewell can’t leave Montana’s Lewis and Clark County fast enough for her new job as chief investigator for Jon Kirkbride, sheriff of Bakken County. She leaves behind no memories worth keeping: her husband is dead, her boss has made no bones about disliking her, and she’s looking forward to new responsibilities and the higher salary underwritten by North Dakota’s sudden oil boom. But Bakken County has its own issues. For one thing, it’s cold—a whole lot colder than the coldest weather Cassie’s ever imagined. For another, the job she turns out to have been hired for—leading an investigation her new boss doesn’t feel he can entrust to his own force—makes her queasy. The biggest problem, though, is one she doesn’t know about until it slaps her in the face. A fatal car accident that was anything but accidental has jarred loose a stash of methamphetamines and cash that’s become the center of a battle between the Sons of Freedom, Bakken County’s traditional drug sellers, and MS-13, the Salvadorian upstarts who are muscling in on their territory. It’s a setup that leaves scant room for law enforcement officers or for Kyle Westergaard, the 12-year-old paperboy damaged since birth by fetal alcohol syndrome, who’s walked away from the wreck with a prize all too many people would kill for.

A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be welcome to return and tie up the gaping loose end Box leaves. The unrelenting cold makes this the perfect beach read.

Pub Date: July 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-58321-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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