Fowler’s fixation on Benni as the alpha and omega of every mystery deprives readers of any opportunity for serious...

SUNSHINE AND SHADOW

Spring 1978: Newlyweds Benni (Steps to the Altar, 2002, etc.) and Jack Harper take time out from conjugal relations to enroll in Professor Hill’s history class at Cal Poly San Celina. Jack’s too manly to be much of a writer, so he opts for keeping a journal as his final project. But Benni leaps at the chance to write a term paper on local author Emma Baldwin, whose The Secret of the Crazy Quilt was one of her childhood favorites. And Emma takes an immediate shine to Benni, in spite of the envious glances of her son Cody. Fast forward to 1995. Cody’s dead. Jack’s dead. Benni’s married to police chief Gabriel Ortiz, who’s every bit as interested as Jack in sex, but who has a dark, brooding side. Right now he’s brooding over his ex-LAPD buddy Luke Webster, who came to San Celina on private business, ate tacos with Gabe and Benni, and promptly joined the dead himself. But Gabe’s investigation of Luke’s murder is quickly back-burnered when someone starts harassing Benni—making threatening phone calls, trashing her truck, even following her up to Pasa Robles, where she’s renewed her friendship with Emma. How can Gabe keep order in the west when a stalker, perhaps even someone from his own past, is threatening his querida?

Fowler’s fixation on Benni as the alpha and omega of every mystery deprives readers of any opportunity for serious mystification. Even Professor Hill would give this one a D.

Pub Date: May 6, 2003

ISBN: 0-425-18855-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2003

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Joe’s fifth case is his best balanced, most deeply felt and most mystifying to date: an absolute must.

OUT OF RANGE

Crime-fighting Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett outdoes himself during a temporary transfer from sleepy Saddlestring to fashionable Jackson Hole.

Will Jensen, the Jackson game warden, was a great guy and a model warden, but once his wife left him six months ago, he spiraled into madness and suicide, and now Joe’s been called to replace him. The transition is anything but smooth. There’s no question of Joe’s family coming with him, so he’s reduced to hoping he can get a signal for the cell-phone calls he squeezes into his busy schedule. En route to his new posting, Joe has to pursue a marauding grizzly. He arrives to meet a formidable series of challenges. Cantankerous outfitter Smoke Van Horn wants to go on attracting elk with illegal salt licks without the new warden’s interference. Animal Liberation Network activist Pi Stevenson wants him to publicize her cause and adopt a vegan diet. Developer Don Ennis wants to open a housing development for millionaires who like their meat free of additives. Ennis’s trophy wife Stella simply wants Joe—and he wants her back. As he wrestles with these demands, and with a supervisor riled over Joe’s track record of destroying government property in pursuit of bad guys (Trophy Hunt, 2004, etc.), Joe slowly becomes convinced that Will did not kill himself.

Joe’s fifth case is his best balanced, most deeply felt and most mystifying to date: an absolute must.

Pub Date: May 5, 2005

ISBN: 0-399-15291-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

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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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