An inviting look at an ancient king and the lives of those around him.

THE JUDGMENT

Niko’s (The Oracle, 2015, etc.) historical novel focuses on King Solomon and his first wife.

The year is 965 B.C.E., and a young King Solomon is pleased to see the temple planned by his father, King David, being built in Jerusalem. With the wise priest Zadok by his side, Solomon seems “destined for the role he had stepped into: leading God’s chosen people into a new era of greatness and prosperity.” The temple under construction is meant to convey such greatness and will eventually hold the Ark of the Covenant. For his grand scheme, though, Solomon requires a large quantity of gold, and obtaining such a treasure will require negotiation with the often hostile Egyptians. Solomon is untroubled by such a proposition, and he travels to Zoan with a small contingent to meet with Pharaoh Psusennes II. In the process of acquiring the gold, Solomon becomes mesmerized by the pharaoh’s daughter Nicaule. A marriage pact is soon formed that seals peace between the kingdoms of Egypt and Israel. If Nicaule’s unhappiness is any indication, however, such peace is tepid at best. Nicaule is forced to leave behind both her homeland and her lover, Shoshenq, a situation she is powerless to prevent and that leaves her far from cheerful. Will she ever be able to return to Egypt? Will she ever feel any loyalty to Solomon and his reign? Following the plot as Nicaule gives birth, Zadok marvels at the completed temple, and Solomon begins his long decline, the reader is given a view of this legendary time in digestible portions. Although the dialogue tends toward the grand (as when Solomon tells Nicaule: “Your voice is like honey dripping from the belly of a fig”), the story progresses in such a way as to be believable, in increments inspired more by historical possibilities than historical hyperboles. More than a mere biblical bodice-ripper, the narrative provides a studied look at the time of this king and what it might mean, for instance, to visit Solomon’s Temple with its “altar of burnt offering, built of hewn stones with twelve steps leading up to the massive fire pit.”

An inviting look at an ancient king and the lives of those around him.

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-942546-22-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Medallion Press

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

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. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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One protest from an outraged innocent says it all: “This is America. This is Wyoming.”

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LONG RANGE

Once again, Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett gets mixed up in a killing whose principal suspect is his old friend Nate Romanowski, whose attempts to live off the grid keep breaking down in a series of felony charges.

If Judge Hewitt hadn’t bent over to pick up a spoon that had fallen from his dinner table, the sniper set up nearly a mile from his house in the gated community of the Eagle Mountain Club would have ended his life. As it was, the victim was Sue Hewitt, leaving the judge alive and free to rail and threaten anyone he suspected of the shooting. Incoming Twelve Sleep County Sheriff Brendan Kapelow’s interest in using the case to promote his political ambitions and the judge’s inability to see further than his nose make them the perfect targets for a frame-up of Nate, who just wants to be left alone in the middle of nowhere to train his falcons and help his bride, Liv Brannon, raise their baby, Kestrel. Nor are the sniper, the sheriff, and the judge Nate’s only enemies. Orlando Panfile has been sent to Wyoming by the Sinaloan drug cartel to avenge the deaths of the four assassins whose careers Nate and Joe ended last time out (Wolf Pack, 2019). So it’s up to Joe, with some timely data from his librarian wife, Marybeth, to hire a lawyer for Nate, make sure he doesn’t bust out of jail before his trial, identify the real sniper, who continues to take an active role in the proceedings, and somehow protect him from a killer who regards Nate’s arrest as an unwelcome complication. That’s quite a tall order for someone who can’t shoot straight, who keeps wrecking his state-issued vehicles, and whose appalling mother-in-law, Missy Vankeuren Hand, has returned from her latest European jaunt to suck up all the oxygen in Twelve Sleep County to hustle some illegal drugs for her cancer-stricken sixth husband. But fans of this outstanding series will know better than to place their money against Joe.

One protest from an outraged innocent says it all: “This is America. This is Wyoming.”

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53823-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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