Very little mystery, with surprisingly muted canine roles. The wily prosecutor turns in the single strongest performance.

BEST IN SNOW

It wouldn’t be Christmas in Paterson, New Jersey, without a dead body covered by snow in Eastside Park.

It’s a bonus that the corpse is that of Paterson Mayor Alex Oliva and that it’s discovered by Tara, the beloved golden retriever of Andy Carpenter, the city’s most work-averse lawyer. As usual, Andy’s inclined to walk away from his discovery, but that quickly changes with the arrest of disgraced reporter Bobby Nash, whom Andy’s old pal, executive editor Vince Sanders, fired after a story he reported exposing a pay-to-play scheme that linked businessman Richard Minchner to Oliva’s gubernatorial campaign was proved false and Bobby’s principal informant, election committee member Theresa Minardo, said she’d never talked to him. Andy doesn’t owe Vince a favor, but when Vince points out that he’d certainly pay up if he owed Andy, he reluctantly takes on Bobby’s defense. It’s a good thing, too, since the case is about to blow up—literally for Theresa Minardo and several other locals hanging around structures that shadowy forces seem to have targeted for demolition. Bobby is poisoned during his stay in the prison hospital; prosecutor Dylan Campbell is clearly licking his chops over the surfeit of forensic evidence linking Bobby to the crime; and as Andy prepares his impossible defense, he can’t help wondering why the killer, after shooting Oliva in his driveway, would take so much trouble to dump his body a mere three blocks away.

Very little mystery, with surprisingly muted canine roles. The wily prosecutor turns in the single strongest performance.

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2502-5717-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 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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