Though the case is a hot mess, the criminals’ sublimely simple central concept is worth all those subsidiary homicides.

ANIMAL INSTINCT

A second outing for Paterson’s preeminent investigators ensnares one of their own members in uncomfortable ways.

It’s not clear who shot Lisa Yates to death in a restaurant parking lot, but it’s clear who deserves leaning on: medical services headhunter Gerald Kline, whom she refused to file charges against for domestic abuse when he was living in her place. So Corey Douglas, who, when he was a Paterson cop, questioned Kline in vain, goes to see him now, blusters at him, and broadcasts hints unwisely around town that Kline deserves killing himself. Someone promptly obliges Corey by slitting Kline’s throat. But it’s not that big a favor since the killer also plants a bloodstained sweat suit of Corey’s along with the murder weapon in a nearby dumpster. Suddenly Corey’s in sore need of the professional services of the K Team, whose members include cop-turned-investigator Laurie Collins, tough and taciturn Marcus Clark, and Corey himself since he retired from the force. Released on bail, Corey’s free to join his K-9 partner, Simon Garfunkel, and his fellow humans in tying both Lisa and Kline to an elaborate and extensive scam involving her employer, Ardmore Medical Systems, and a whole lot of other folks, including two hit men, one of whom incriminates himself in a way that would be conclusive if he hadn’t died immediately afterward. Andy Carpenter, Laurie’s husband, takes time out from his own long-running series to defend Corey, but the real fireworks take place far from the courthouse.

Though the case is a hot mess, the criminals’ sublimely simple central concept is worth all those subsidiary homicides.

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2502-5720-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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Sprawling and only intermittently suspenseful till that last act: below average for this distinguished series.

OCEAN PREY

No oceans in Minnesota, you say? That won’t stop Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers, who are clearly determined to burn through their bucket list on the federal government’s dime.

The murders of three Coast Guard officers chasing a suspicious boat in Florida waters by crooks who set fire to the boat moments after abandoning it send shock waves through the DEA, the FBI, and eventually the U.S. Marshals Service. In short order Lucas and his colleague and pal Bob Matees find themselves on a task force Florida Sen. Christopher Colles convenes to find the drugs the fugitives managed to dump into the Atlantic before they shot their pursuers and arrest everyone in sight. The duo’s modus operandi seems to be to talk to everyone who’s seen anything, and then talk to everyone they’ve mentioned, and so on, taking regular breaks to drink, reminisce, and swap wisecracks. Everything is so relaxed and routine that fans of this long-running series will just know that Sandford has something more up his sleeve, and he does. Eventually the task force’s net widens to make room for Virgil, who, working with Marshal Rae Givens, hires himself out to the criminals as a diver who can retrieve those drugs while Lucas and his allies work their way higher and higher up the food chain of baddies. The cast is enormous and mostly forgettable, but Sandford manages to work up a full head of steam when Lucas realizes that his scorched-earth tactics have put Virgil and Rae in serious danger.

Sprawling and only intermittently suspenseful till that last act: below average for this distinguished series.

Pub Date: April 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-08702-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE

In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8272-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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