From the Morton Digby series , Vol. 1

A quirky premise and sharp twists and turns make this mystery page-turning fun.

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Heras delivers a rollicking murder mystery—starring cats and dogs—set in 1950s New York City.

Flint Lockford, an Irish wolfhound, is a top investigative reporter at the Knickerbocker Gazette and is preparing to propose to his girlfriend, an Angora cat named Bianca Moon. Things couldn’t be better—until he is unexpectedly crushed by a falling piano. Left to wander the city as a ghost, he is quickly taken in by a group of fellow shades and waits for the detectives assigned to his case to figure out his death was murder, not an accident. Junior detective Morton Digby, a border collie mix, has a new partner, a Scottish terrier named J.B. Puddleworth, who is slow to figure out that they’re at the bottom of the pecking order at the precinct—they have a hard time convincing their superiors that the piano was cut loose on purpose. The duo begins to investigate suspects who might have had a bone to pick with Flint over one of his articles. Meanwhile, Flint’s bereaved girlfriend, Bianca, is spitting mad and not about to sit idly by while the detectives bungle the case. Along with her alley cat friend, Roxy, and the ghost of Flint whispering in her ear, she begins asking her own questions. Anthropomorphic cats and dogs living in 1950s New York is a tricky conceit to pull off, and the author does so with flair (“Adapting to apartment-style living was proving to be a big adjustment for the Scottie and his wife, especially as they had a family of Saint Bernards living directly above them”). There is a large cast of characters, both alive and spectral, and they are all vividly drawn without pulling attention from the protagonists. These are cats and dogs you’d want to be friends with (well, most of them). The period detail in the descriptions of the city is impressive, and the story does a deft job making light entertainment of a tale filled with murder and vengeful criminals.

A quirky premise and sharp twists and turns make this mystery page-turning fun.

Pub Date: June 20, 2023

ISBN: 9781735317557

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Double Six Books

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023


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

ISBN: 978-1-5387-1982-4

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2022


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. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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