by David Stever ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 22, 2020
Sharp prose and vivid characterizations elevate this detective story.
Awards & Accolades
An East Coast private eye’s blackmail case spirals into murder in this third installment of a mystery series.
Johnny Delarosa’s newest client is former pro football player Stan Shelton, now a successful car dealer. Shelton needs the Port City private investigator’s help when a blackmailer threatens to expose the married dealer’s link to an escort service. Johnny and his research assistant, Katie Pitts, trying to track down the blackmailer, inadvertently witness someone dumping a body. With the corpse left outside a building Shelton owns, Johnny struggles to keep the ex-athlete’s name out of the press. The PI eventually teams up with Monica Mattson, a police detective working a sex trafficking case that’s focused on the very same escort service Shelton had been using. Behind this shady company are malicious types determined to cut off any loose ends, which soon results in a second homicide. Complicating Johnny’s inquiry is the possibility that Shelton isn’t telling him everything he knows. The PI suspects his client is more deeply involved in illegal activities than he’s admitted. Johnny races to find answers before he, Monica, or even Katie becomes the next murder victim. While following Johnny’s investigation is entertaining, Stever’s vibrant characters turn out to be the story’s greatest components. For example, Katie is learning the gumshoe ropes from former cop Johnny, whose case takes an unexpected turn when he recognizes a potential criminal as someone from his past. Similarly, the women in this novel are smart and capable, particularly Katie and Monica. The author’s concise descriptions make for a breezy narrative and a quick read. While metaphors are sometimes blatant, they’re also delightfully tongue-in-cheek, such as Johnny’s assuring his client that, though Shelton “made a bad play…it is now first and ten again. A new set of downs.”Sharp prose and vivid characterizations elevate this detective story. (acknowledgements)
Pub Date: July 22, 2020
Page Count: 295
Publisher: Cinder Path Press
Review Posted Online: Sept. 22, 2020
Review Program: Kirkus Indie
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by David Baldacci ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 11, 2022
Fascinating main characters and a clever plot add up to an exciting read.
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
Page Count: 448
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2022
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2022
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by Kathy Reichs ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 17, 2020
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
Page Count: 352
Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020
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