Sharp prose and vivid characterizations elevate this detective story.


From the The Delarosa Series series , Vol. 3

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

ISBN: 978-0-9983371-4-2

Page Count: 295

Publisher: Cinder Path Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 22, 2020

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Britain teeters on the brink of scandal and war in this charming combination of history and mystery.


Christmas 1935 finds murder stalking the British royal family.

Lady Georgiana Rannoch is settling into married life with dashing Darcy O’Mara, who for once isn’t off on some secret government mission. When the house party she’s planned falls apart because almost no one she’s invited can come, she accepts an invitation of her own. Darcy’s eccentric aunt Ermintrude asks the newlyweds to Wymondham Hall, on the edge of the royal Sandringham estate, and hints that Queen Mary especially wants Georgiana to come. There are enough rooms on offer to allow the inclusion of Georgie’s brother, Binky, the Duke of Rannoch, his annoying wife, Fig, their children, and Georgie’s mother, the dowager Duchess, who’s suddenly arrived from Germany. Georgie even brings along Queenie, her cook, who has a reputation for causing problems. The biggest surprise is the arrival of Wallis Simpson, whom Georgie’s cousin David, the Prince of Wales, wants close by his side while he visits his ailing father. The British press has been keeping Mrs. Simpson, who’s about to divorce her husband, a secret from the public, but the scandal she’s caused is well known among the aristocracy. David is almost shot during a hunt; Mrs. Simpson is knocked out; and Georgie’s ride with the prince’s friend results in his death. Are these all accidents or cleverly concealed murder attempts? Queen Mary asks Georgie, who has a track record of successful sleuthing, to discover the truth.

Britain teeters on the brink of scandal and war in this charming combination of history and mystery.

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-440000-08-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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After a flight in fantasy with When the Wind Blows (1998), Patterson goes to ground with another slash-and-squirm psychokiller page-turner, this one dedicated to “the millions of Alex Cross readers, who so frequently ask, can’t you write faster?” By day, Geoffrey Shafer is a charming, 42-year-old British Embassy paper-pusher with a picture-perfect family and a shady past as an MI-6 secret agent. Come sundown, he swallows a pharmacy of psychoactive pills, gulps three black coffees loaded with sugar, and roams the streets of Washington, D.C., in a battered cab, where, disguised as a black man, he rolls dice to determine which among his black female fares he—ll murder. Afterwards he dumps his naked victims in crime-infested back alleys of black- slum neighborhoods, then sends e-mails boasting of his accomplishments to three other former MI-6 agents involved in a hellish Internet role-playing game. “I sensed I was at the start of another homicide mess,” sighs forensic-psychologist turned homicide-detective Alex Cross. Cross yearns to catch the “Jane Doe murderer” but is thwarted by Det. Chief George Pittman, who assigns sexy Det. Patsy Hampton to investigate Cross and come up with a reason for dismissing him. Meanwhile, Cross’s fiancÇe is kidnaped during a Bermuda vacation, and an anonymous e-mail warns him to back off. He doesn’t, of course, and just when it appears that Patterson is sleep-walking through his story, Cross nabs Shafer minutes after Shafer kills Det. Hampton. During the subsequent high-visibility trail, Shafer manages to make the jury believe that he’s innocent and that Cross was trying to frame him. When all seems lost, a sympathetic British intelligence chief offers to help Cross bring down Shafer, and the other homicidal game-players, during a showdown on the breezy beaches of Jamaica. Kinky mayhem, a cartoonish villain, regular glimpses of the kindly Cross caring for his loved ones, and an ending that spells a sequel: Patterson’s fans couldn’t ask for more.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 1999

ISBN: 0-316-69328-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1999

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