The same spellbinding detail that Harstad fans ate with relish in Carl’s debut shocker, Eleven Days (1998)—where he was...

CODE SIXTY-ONE

Fourth procedural featuring former Deputy Sheriff Harstad’s gritty but amusing and warmhearted, middle-aged hero, Deputy Sheriff Carl Houseman.

When Carl gets a signal to check on a female’s report of an intruder, she tells him she saw a white-faced man with fangs floating outside her second-floor window. Next day, this same woman’s boyfriend is found floating under a bridge, head bashed in and throat torn open. What ties white fangs to torn boyfriend? Next morning, still in bed, Carl gets a Code 61 call—a terse, circumspect radio communication that keeps people with police scanners from getting the message—that lends a spooky silence to his police radio as he drives to the crime. In a huge Victorian house, Carl absorbs the death scene before studying the bathtub’s young, bruised female corpse—a knife lying beside her and her neck slashed with a wound almost too deep to be self-inflicted. She’s Edith Younger, the niece of fellow cop Lamar, Carl’s boss. But to sharp-eyed Carl, something isn’t right: there’s not enough blood. He partners with series regular Hester Gorse, State Special Agent, whose smarts have been applied to hundreds of homicides. News reports spread about Dracula visiting the county—and who should show up but William Chester, vampire hunter, with stake, mallet, garlic, and crucifix. Building on the medical examiner’s wisdom, and on stains found on stairs, Hester and Carl slowly feed us a vast factual bag of crime scene detail that eventually leads to a band of deluded bloodrinkers led by extradelusional Dan Peale, who, like a good vampire, fears no bullet, especially when on methamphetamine and ecstasy. And perhaps he can fly as well, since this batty guy lives in a deserted mine.

The same spellbinding detail that Harstad fans ate with relish in Carl’s debut shocker, Eleven Days (1998)—where he was pitted against a satanic cult given to demonic atrocities. Yummy.

Pub Date: April 16, 2002

ISBN: 0-385-50118-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2002

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Perhaps too much ingenuity for its own good. But except for Jeffery Deaver and Sophie Hannah, no one currently working the...

THE SENTENCE IS DEATH

Fired Scotland Yard detective Daniel Hawthorne bursts onto the scene of his unwilling collaborator and amanuensis, screenwriter/novelist Anthony, who seems to share all Horowitz’s (Forever and a Day, 2018, etc.) credentials, to tell him that the game’s afoot again.

The victim whose death requires Hawthorne’s attention this time is divorce attorney Richard Pryce, bashed to death in the comfort of his home with a wine bottle. The pricey vintage was a gift from Pryce’s client, well-to-do property developer Adrian Lockwood, on the occasion of his divorce from noted author Akira Anno, who reportedly celebrated in a restaurant only a few days ago by pouring a glass of wine over the head of her husband’s lawyer. Clearly she’s too good a suspect to be true, and she’s soon dislodged from the top spot by the news that Gregory Taylor, who’d long ago survived a cave-exploring accident together with Pryce that left their schoolmate Charles Richardson dead, has been struck and killed by a train at King’s Cross Station. What’s the significance of the number “182” painted on the crime scene’s wall and of the words (“What are you doing here? It’s a bit late”) with which Pryce greeted his murderer? The frustrated narrator (The Word Is Murder, 2018) can barely muster the energy to reflect on these clues because he’s so preoccupied with fending off the rudeness of Hawthorne, who pulls a long face if his sidekick says boo to the suspects they interview, and the more-than-rudeness of the Met’s DI Cara Grunshaw, who threatens Hawthorne with grievous bodily harm if he doesn’t pass on every scrap of intelligence he digs up. Readers are warned that the narrator’s fondest hope—“I like to be in control of my books”—will be trampled and that the Sherlock-ian solution he laboriously works out is only the first of many.

Perhaps too much ingenuity for its own good. But except for Jeffery Deaver and Sophie Hannah, no one currently working the field has anywhere near this much ingenuity to burn.

Pub Date: May 28, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-267683-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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An undisciplined but powerfully lacerating story, by an author who knows every block of the neighborhood and every hair on...

MYSTIC RIVER

After five adventures for Boston shamus Patrick Kenzie and his off-again lover Angela Gennaro (Prayers for Rain, 1999, etc.), Lehane tries his hand at a crossover novel that’s as dark as any of Patrick’s cases.

Even the 1975 prologue is bleak. Sean Devine and Jimmy Marcus are playing, or fighting, outside Sean’s parents’ house in the Point neighborhood of East Buckingham when a car pulls up, one of the two men inside flashes a badge, and Sean and Jimmy’s friend Dave Boyle gets bundled inside, allegedly to be driven home to his mother for a scolding but actually to get kidnapped. Though Dave escapes after a few days, he never really outlives his ordeal, and 25 years later it’s Jimmy’s turn to join him in hell when his daughter Katie is shot and beaten to death in the wilds of Pen Park, and State Trooper Sean, just returned from suspension, gets assigned to the case. Sean knows that both Dave and Jimmy have been in more than their share of trouble in the past. And he’s got an especially close eye on Jimmy, whose marriage brought him close to the aptly named Savage family and who’s done hard time for robbery. It would be just like Jimmy, Sean knows, to ignore his friend’s official efforts and go after the killer himself. But Sean would be a lot more worried if he knew what Dave’s wife Celeste knows: that hours after catching sight of Katie in the last bar she visited on the night of her death, Dave staggered home covered with somebody else’s blood. Burrowing deep into his three sorry heroes and the hundred ties that bind them unbearably close, Lehane weaves such a spellbinding tale that it’s easy to overlook the ramshackle mystery behind it all.

An undisciplined but powerfully lacerating story, by an author who knows every block of the neighborhood and every hair on his characters’ heads.

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2001

ISBN: 0-688-16316-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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