A page-turner with plenty of intelligence and heart; readers will want more.

THE SANDMAN

Vincenti (The Santero, 2014) returns with a second entry in his Wallace Krieg series of hard-boiled, character-driven mystery novels.

With five years on the Santero, New Mexico, force, Wallace isn’t the rookie detective he once was. But with success comes expectations, and because Wallace is considering quitting, the weight of those expectations feels even greater. The unexplained death of a child recalls the M.O. of a serial killer active 10 years ago and makes his decision that much harder. And when another child disappears from the Oro del Sol campground in the middle of flood season, it’s not just Wallace who is sure that the Sandman is back. The search for the missing girl takes the detective and his co-workers all over, from rough-and-tumble wilderness in the desert to the doorsteps of friends and neighbors. Through it all, the storyline gives us insights into the killer himself, making him all the more frightening even while we grow to understand him. What’s more, because the search involves law enforcement, the local community, and tourists at the campground, there’s no knowing whom to count on, much less whom to trust. As in the first installment, the biggest draws here are the characters and the scenery. The harsh beauty of New Mexico informs so much of the setting and story, while the characters—most particularly Wallace’s longtime girlfriend, Sammie Turco, and boss, Karla Woodson—develop further. Each character is distinct even when delivering exposition and engaging in the business of investigation, forensics, and surviving in unforgiving wilderness. What’s more, through aging deputy Bart “BB” Busey, the killer, and others, we learn more in this volume about the history and culture of the area, adding a welcome depth to an already compelling setting. Finally, the author ably renders the mystery itself—however grim the subject matter, the prose never becomes gratuitous or disrespectful—and the complexities of learning disabilities.

A page-turner with plenty of intelligence and heart; readers will want more.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable...

THE UNHONEYMOONERS

An unlucky woman finally gets lucky in love on an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii.

From getting her hand stuck in a claw machine at age 6 to losing her job, Olive Torres has never felt that luck was on her side. But her fortune changes when she scores a free vacation after her identical twin sister and new brother-in-law get food poisoning at their wedding buffet and are too sick to go on their honeymoon. The only catch is that she’ll have to share the honeymoon suite with her least favorite person—Ethan Thomas, the brother of the groom. To make matters worse, Olive’s new boss and Ethan’s ex-girlfriend show up in Hawaii, forcing them both to pretend to be newlyweds so they don’t blow their cover, as their all-inclusive vacation package is nontransferable and in her sister’s name. Plus, Ethan really wants to save face in front of his ex. The story is told almost exclusively from Olive’s point of view, filtering all communication through her cynical lens until Ethan can win her over (and finally have his say in the epilogue). To get to the happily-ever-after, Ethan doesn’t have to prove to Olive that he can be a better man, only that he was never the jerk she thought he was—for instance, when she thought he was judging her for eating cheese curds, maybe he was actually thinking of asking her out. Blending witty banter with healthy adult communication, the fake newlyweds have real chemistry as they talk it out over snorkeling trips, couples massages, and a few too many tropical drinks to get to the truth—that they’re crazy about each other.

Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable as well as free.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2803-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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