NIGHT TERRORS

Some thrillers are beach reads. Palumbo’s are strictly for late at night and for readers who have no pressing engagements...

Pittsburgh clinical psychologist Daniel Rinaldi (Fever Dream, 2011, etc.) finds to his sorrow that even serial killers have fans.

Now that Wesley Currim has confessed to killing wealthy Wheeling coal-mine executive Edward Meachem and led Chief Avery Block and Detective Sgt. Harve Randall to the headless corpse, you’d think the case would be closed. But Wes’ mother, Maggie, swears he’s innocent and provides him with a cast-iron alibi he’s determined to repudiate. Do Block and Randall have the right man in custody? Dr. Rinaldi, who went along with them since Wes had refused to talk unless he was called in, can’t say. And he has no time to yield to Maggie’s pleas and break Wes’ confession because he’s been snatched off the street by FBI agent Neal Alcott and plunged into a different nightmare. Even though John Jessup, convicted of killing four prostitutes, has been beaten to death during a riot in an Ohio prison, the pen pal calling himself “Your Biggest Fan” is determined to avenge him by carrying on in his tradition. In short order, the prison guard who killed Jessup, the judge who sentenced him to four life sentences and the Cleveland ADA who prosecuted him are shot. Not surprisingly, Lyle Barnes, the retired FBI profiler who helped nail Jessup, is having night terrors, and Alcott wants Rinaldi to meet with him and calm him down. For his part, Rinaldi wants to be left alone to consummate his stymied romance with Detective Eleanor Lowrey of the Pittsburgh PD. How likely is that when the entire tri-state region is full of serial killers and killers-in-training?

Some thrillers are beach reads. Palumbo’s are strictly for late at night and for readers who have no pressing engagements early the next day.

Pub Date: May 7, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4642-0129-5

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Poisoned Pen

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

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

BADLANDS

A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be...

Box takes another break from his highly successful Joe Pickett series (Stone Cold, 2014, etc.) for a stand-alone about a police detective, a developmentally delayed boy, and a package everyone in North Dakota wants to grab.

Cassandra Dewell can’t leave Montana’s Lewis and Clark County fast enough for her new job as chief investigator for Jon Kirkbride, sheriff of Bakken County. She leaves behind no memories worth keeping: her husband is dead, her boss has made no bones about disliking her, and she’s looking forward to new responsibilities and the higher salary underwritten by North Dakota’s sudden oil boom. But Bakken County has its own issues. For one thing, it’s cold—a whole lot colder than the coldest weather Cassie’s ever imagined. For another, the job she turns out to have been hired for—leading an investigation her new boss doesn’t feel he can entrust to his own force—makes her queasy. The biggest problem, though, is one she doesn’t know about until it slaps her in the face. A fatal car accident that was anything but accidental has jarred loose a stash of methamphetamines and cash that’s become the center of a battle between the Sons of Freedom, Bakken County’s traditional drug sellers, and MS-13, the Salvadorian upstarts who are muscling in on their territory. It’s a setup that leaves scant room for law enforcement officers or for Kyle Westergaard, the 12-year-old paperboy damaged since birth by fetal alcohol syndrome, who’s walked away from the wreck with a prize all too many people would kill for.

A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be welcome to return and tie up the gaping loose end Box leaves. The unrelenting cold makes this the perfect beach read.

Pub Date: July 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-58321-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: April 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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