Often amusing characters and plenty of red herrings make Byron’s second Cajun Country mystery an entertaining read.

BODY ON THE BAYOU

Bridezilla and murder keep an unlucky maid of honor hopping.

Artist Maggie Crozat returned home to help run her family’s B&B at their lovely Crozet plantation in Pelican, Louisiana. Her very pregnant friend, Vanessa Fleer, has proved to be a demanding bride with long lists of outlandish, constantly changing demands. The bridegroom, Rufus Durand, is a suspended police officer whose family has a long-standing grudge against the Crozats. Luckily for Maggie, his cousin Bo, a detective whom Maggie’s quietly dating, isn’t interested in family feuds. Maggie wonders why Vanessa gets hysterical and Rufus laughs when she agrees to house Vanessa’s cousin Ginger Fleer-Starke and her co-workers Trent and Bibi. The entrepreneurial Ginger has built up a business buying, staging, and decorating houses, with Bibi doing most of the work. Even a lawyer recently moved from Houston has heard all about Ginger, who’s sued almost everyone she’s ever met and done nothing but cause trouble and fight with people since she arrived in Pelican. So when Maggie finds Ginger’s dead body in the bayou, there are all too many people who could have killed the manipulative troublemaker. Maggie and her family are lucky to have alibis, since they’ve already been involved in a murder (Plantation Shudders, 2016), and the current police chief has no love for any of them. Maggie feels she must do some sleuthing even though her every minute is taken up with Vanessa’s demands. Maggie also worries about Bo’s first wife, Whitney, who’s staying nearby while her new husband is overseas. A beauty whose autistic son, Xander, continues to connect her to her husband, she clearly has doubts about divorcing Bo. Digging into Ginger’s background yields even more motives, but who did the deadly deed?

Often amusing characters and plenty of red herrings make Byron’s second Cajun Country mystery an entertaining read.

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-629-53768-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crooked Lane

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A top-notch psychological thriller.

COLD COLD HEART

In Hoag’s (The 9th Girl, 2013, etc.) latest, talented young newscaster Dana Nolan is left to navigate a psychological maze after escaping a serial killer.

While recuperating at home in Shelby Mills, Indiana, Dana meets her former high school classmates John Villante and Tim Carver. Football hero Tim is ashamed of flunking out of West Point, and now he’s a sheriff’s deputy. After Iraq and Afghanistan tours, John’s home with PTSD, "angry and bitter and dark." Dana survived abduction by serial killer Doc Holiday, but she still suffers from the gruesome attack by "the man who ruined her life, destroyed her career, shattered her sense of self, damaged her brain and her face." What binds the trio is their friend Casey Grant, who's been missing five years, perhaps also a Holiday victim, even if "[t]he odds against that kind of coincidence had to be astronomical." Hoag’s first 100 pages are a gut-wrenching dissection of the aftereffects of traumatic brain injury: Dana is plagued by "[f]ear, panic, grief, and anger" and haunted by fractured memories and nightmares. "Before Dana had believed in the inherent good in people. After Dana knew firsthand their capacity for evil." Impulsive and paranoid, Dana obsesses over linking Casey’s disappearance to Holiday, with her misfiring brain convincing her that "finding the truth about what had happened to Casey [was] her chance of redemption." But then Hoag tosses suspects into the narrative faster than Dana can count: Roger Mercer, Dana’s self-absorbed state senator stepfather; Mack Villante, who left son John with "no memories of his father that didn’t include drunkenness and cruelty"; even Hardy, the hard-bitten, cancer-stricken detective who investigated Casey’s disappearance. Tense, tightly woven, with every minor character, from Dana’s fiercely protective aunt to Mercer’s pudgy campaign chief, ratcheting up the tension, Hoag’s narrative explodes with an unexpected but believable conclusion.

A top-notch psychological thriller.

Pub Date: Jan. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-525-95454-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how...

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 16

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

THE A LIST

A convicted killer’s list of five people he wants dead runs the gamut from the wife he’s already had murdered to franchise heroine Ali Reynolds.

Back in the day, women came from all over to consult Santa Clarita fertility specialist Dr. Edward Gilchrist. Many of them left his care happily pregnant, never dreaming that the father of the babies they carried was none other than the physician himself, who donated his own sperm rather than that of the handsome, athletic, disease-free men pictured in his scrapbook. When Alexandra Munsey’s son, Evan, is laid low by the kidney disease he’s inherited from his biological father and she returns to Gilchrist in search of the donor’s medical records, the roof begins to fall in on him. By the time it’s done falling, he’s serving a life sentence in Folsom Prison for commissioning the death of his wife, Dawn, the former nurse and sometime egg donor who’d turned on him. With nothing left to lose, Gilchrist tattoos himself with the initials of five people he blames for his fall: Dawn; Leo Manuel Aurelio, the hit man he’d hired to dispose of her; Kaitlyn Todd, the nurse/receptionist who took Dawn’s place; Alex Munsey, whose search for records upset his apple cart; and Ali Reynolds, the TV reporter who’d helped put Alex in touch with the dozen other women who formed the Progeny Project because their children looked just like hers. No matter that Ali’s been out of both California and the news business for years; Gilchrist and his enablers know that revenge can’t possibly be served too cold. Wonder how far down that list they’ll get before Ali, aided once more by Frigg, the methodical but loose-cannon AI first introduced in Duel to the Death (2018), turns on them?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how little the boundary-challenged AI, who gets into the case more or less inadvertently, differs from your standard human sidekick with issues.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5101-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

more