A great collection of short crime fiction.

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BROKEN

Six crime novellas from Winslow, who pays homage to Steve McQueen, Elmore Leonard, and Raymond Chandler.

The world is a broken place, thinks Eva McNabb, a 911 dispatcher in New Orleans in the title novella, and “you come out broken.” Her sons, Danny and Jimmy, are cops, and Jimmy is “as sensitive as brass knuckles.” When he and his partner stumble on a mountain of meth, gunfire and heartbreak follow. In Crime 101, a jewel thief named Davis notes the basics of successful crime—“keep it simple,” for example. He never strays far from “the 101,” his beloved California Highway 101. When Davis jacks $1.5 million in diamonds, Lt. Lou Lubesnick tries to identify and capture him, and it all comes down to this: “What would Steve McQueen do?” There are so many good lines in these yarns. How could the reader resist The San Diego Zoo’s opener: “Nobody knows how the chimp got the revolver”? This story is especially funny: A good cop becomes the department’s laughingstock after disarming Champ the chimp. Lowlife Hollis Bamburger once turned in a term paper with the Wikipedia heading still on it. Even Superman and Spartacus take a hilarious turn. Meanwhile, the characters in Sunset and Paradise spend a lot of time surfing or thinking about surfing. A bail bondsman looks for a heroin-addicted surfing legend, and a woman in Hawaii thinks Peter, Paul, and Mary were Jesus’ parents. Each storyline will keep readers entertained with wit, humor, and occasional sadness. Finally, in The Last Ride, a Border Patrol agent simply wants to return one Salvadoran girl to her mother. The tale is sad and powerful as it comes back to the theme that everyone is broken somehow.

A great collection of short crime fiction.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-298890-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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A lively, offbeat novel.

ELSEWHERE

California man Jeffy Coltrane and his 11-year-old daughter, Amity, discover the wonders and horrors of multiverse travel after an inventor entrusts them with a special device.

The inventor, on the run from dark government forces, instructs Coltrane to put this $76 billion "key to everything" into safekeeping and never use it. But when Amity's pet mouse strolls across its controls, the device activates, whisking father and daughter—and mouse—off to an alternate Earth. Danger greets them in the form of a nasty creature that is half boy and half chimp, and there are other threats. But Amity is in no rush to return to normalcy after Googling her long-missing mother and determining she is alive and well on Earth 1.13. However, re-connecting with Mom, who walked out on her family seven years ago, saying she felt "empty," proves problematic: In this parallel world, Jeffy and Amity were both run over by a car—seven years ago. For all the other scary things there are across the multiverse, including genocidal robots marching up the Pacific Coast Highway, none is more frightening than the neo-fascist enforcers now operating back home on "Earth Prime." As heavy-handed as Koontz is in nailing down this timely theme, it's disappointing to see him pull back from its broader implications and invest his villainy in a rather predictable sociopathic bad guy who will do anything to lay his hands on the special device. And it is not always easy to keep all the multiple Earths and versions of people straight. But otherwise, this is a colorful, imaginative spin into SF by the prolific, wide-ranging writer.

A lively, offbeat novel.

Pub Date: tomorrow

ISBN: 978-1-5420-1985-9

Page Count: 364

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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The solution is maddeningly simple but the construction, simply masterful.

ONE BY ONE

Our contemporary Agatha Christie offers up her version of And Then There Were None when 11 people are stranded in a ritzy ski chalet and begin dying one by one.

By the numbers, the streaming app Snoop is devastatingly successful, and the company is on the cusp of a major buyout—if the shareholders vote to take this route. The founders, Topher and Eva, are torn, and the other three shareholders are being courted to choose sides. Most of the pressure falls on Liz, an awkward outlier when compared with the glamorous, beautiful people who head up the company. Though she doesn't work directly for Snoop anymore, Liz is included in the leadership retreat: It's her and eight other board members at a lush, remote French ski chalet for a little powder, a little pampering, and a little back-channel business. Erin and Danny, the caretakers of the chalet, notice tension among the members of the Snoop group from the beginning, but overall it seems like just another wealthy, entitled corporate gathering. The weather on top of the mountain grows increasingly dangerous, and when nine people go out to ski and only eight return, fear and suspicion begin to grow. Then there's an avalanche, and the chalet is cut off from contact with the outside world. Soon, another group member dies, apparently poisoned, and then another is murdered because of something she saw. The survivors must split up to search for help before there's no one left. Alternating chapters between Liz's and Erin’s points of view, Ware does what she does best: Gives us a familiar locked-door mystery setup and lets the tension and suspicion marinate until they reach fever pitch. Another win for Ware and her adaptations of classic mystery traditions.

The solution is maddeningly simple but the construction, simply masterful.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5011-8881-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Scout Press/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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