Dark and juicy, the middle entry in Sáenz’s epic trilogy immerses readers in a vibrant, dangerous city.

THE WATER RITUALS

A righteous police inspector is propelled into examining his past while facing personal and professional challenges in the present.

In the Spanish city of Vitoria, Inspector Unai López de Ayala, known as Kraken, gets a double whammy from his lover and boss, Deputy Superintendent Alba Díaz de Salvatierra: She’s pregnant, and the father might not be him but her dead husband, Nancho, a serial killer. His pursuit of Nancho in The Silence of the White City (2020) left Kraken with serious head injuries that have impaired his ability to speak. Though he narrates in a gritty first person, he regularly visits a speech therapist and rarely talks to others, preferring to conduct conversations in the texts peppered throughout. A message from Kraken’s partner, Estíbaliz, brings more bad news: Kraken’s first girlfriend, graphic novelist Ana Belén Liaño, has been murdered. Intermittent flashbacks to 1992 present their idyllic teen romance and provide an intriguing counterpoint to the main noir narrative. Sáenz’s large, boldly painted canvas includes a plague of inexplicable suicides by young women. Kraken’s collaboration with his own group of colorful irregulars—hacker extraordinaire Golden Girl; Tasio Ortiz de Zárate, long imprisoned as a serial killer but exonerated; street-wise skater MatuSalem; and others—is this story’s most enjoyable feature. The murder of one of Kraken’s old friends indicates both that he’s dealing with a serial killer and that he might be the killer’s focus.

Dark and juicy, the middle entry in Sáenz’s epic trilogy immerses readers in a vibrant, dangerous city.

Pub Date: March 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9861-6

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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Crave chills and thrills but don’t have time for a King epic? This will do the job before bedtime. Not that you’ll sleep.

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LATER

Horrormeister King follows a boy’s journey from childhood to adolescence among the dead—and their even creepier living counterparts.

Jamie Conklin sees dead people. Not for very long—they fade away after a week or so—but during that time he can talk to them, ask them questions, and compel them to answer truthfully. His uncanny gift at first seems utterly unrelated to his mother Tia’s work as a literary agent, but the links become disturbingly clear when her star client, Regis Thomas, dies shortly after starting work on the newest entry in his bestselling Roanoke Saga, and Tia and her lover, NYPD Detective Liz Dutton, drive Jamie out to Cobblestone Cottage to encourage the late author to dictate an outline of his latest page-turner so that Tia, who’s fallen on hard times, can write it in his name instead of returning his advance and her cut. Now that she’s seen what Jamie can do, Liz takes it on herself to arrange an interview in which Jamie will ask Kenneth Therriault, a serial bomber who’s just killed himself, where he’s stowed his latest explosive device before it can explode posthumously. His post-mortem encounter with Therriault exacts a high price on Jamie, who now finds himself more haunted than ever, though he never gives up on the everyday experiences in which King roots all his nightmares.

Crave chills and thrills but don’t have time for a King epic? This will do the job before bedtime. Not that you’ll sleep.

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7890-9649-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Hard Case Crime

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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Top-drawer crime fiction. The authors are tough on the hero, but the hero is tough.

THE RED BOOK

Patterson and Ellis put their characters through hell in this hard-edged second installment of their Black Book series after The Black Book (2017).

A young girl is one of four people gunned down in a “very, very bad” K-Town drive-by shooting in Chicago. Police are under intense political pressure to solve it, so Detective Billy Harney is assigned to the Special Operations Section to put the brakes on the gang violence on the West Side. His new partner is Detective Carla Griffin, whom colleagues describe as “sober as an undertaker” and “as fun as a case of hemorrhoids.” And she looks like the last thing he needs, a pill popper. (But is she?) Department muckety-mucks want Harney to fail, and Griffin is supposed to spy on him. The poor guy already has a hell of a backstory: His daughter died and his wife committed suicide (or did she?) four years earlier, he’s been shot in the head, charged with murder (and exonerated), and helped put his own father in prison. (Nothing like a tormented hero!) Now the deaths still haunt him while he and Griffin begin to suspect they’re not looking at a simple turf war starring the Imperial Gangster Nation. Meanwhile, the captain in Internal Affairs is deep in the pocket of some bad guys who run an international human trafficking ring, and he loathes Harney. The protagonist is lucky to have Patti, his sister and fellow detective, as his one reliable friend who lets him know he’s being set up. The authors do masterful work creating flawed characters to root for or against, and they certainly pile up the troubles for Billy Harney. Abundant nasty twists will hold readers’ rapt attention in this dark, violent, and fast-moving thriller.

Top-drawer crime fiction. The authors are tough on the hero, but the hero is tough.

Pub Date: March 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-49940-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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