by Frank Bill ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 5, 2013
Bill is one hell of a storyteller. If he makes his characters a little more complex, he could become one of the best, but...
This is a novel that guts the underbelly of southern Indiana and leaves the reader with either a rush of adrenaline or a wave of loathing.
Jarhead can’t find a job to feed his hungry babies, so he robs a gun store for $1,000—not a dollar more or a dollar less. His only skill is bare-knuckle fighting, and he needs the money for the entry fee to the Donnybrook, a tournament where 20 men fight each other in a 30-by-30 enclosure until only one is left standing. Winners advance through several rounds, producing an ultimate winner who takes home a hundred grand in cash. It’s the only path Jarhead can see for a better life for his family. Unfortunately, it’s a path soaked in blood. Nearly everyone else of importance in this grim tale is a murderer, a meth dealer or user, a whore or an abuser of whores. Chainsaw Angus is Jarhead’s biggest obstacle in the Donnybrook, as he has never lost a fight in his life. Chainsaw’s sister Liz is a prostitute who puts a bullet in a man’s head while they are having sex. Bill portrays depravity and violence as few others can—or perhaps as few others dare to do. The problem is that most of the characters are one-dimensional, irredeemable, sorry wastes of protoplasm. It’s hard to imagine so many people showing so little decency in the same story. Yet the plot builds relentlessly to the final round of the Donnybrook and gives the reader unexpected jolts all the way through to an ending that strongly suggests a sequel.Bill is one hell of a storyteller. If he makes his characters a little more complex, he could become one of the best, but this book doesn’t quite get him there.
Pub Date: March 5, 2013
Page Count: 256
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2012
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013
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by Kathy Reichs ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 17, 2020
Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.
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
Page Count: 352
Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020
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by C.J. Box ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 28, 2015
A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be...
Box takes another break from his highly successful Joe Pickett series (Stone Cold, 2014, etc.) for a stand-alone about a police detective, a developmentally delayed boy, and a package everyone in North Dakota wants to grab.
Cassandra Dewell can’t leave Montana’s Lewis and Clark County fast enough for her new job as chief investigator for Jon Kirkbride, sheriff of Bakken County. She leaves behind no memories worth keeping: her husband is dead, her boss has made no bones about disliking her, and she’s looking forward to new responsibilities and the higher salary underwritten by North Dakota’s sudden oil boom. But Bakken County has its own issues. For one thing, it’s cold—a whole lot colder than the coldest weather Cassie’s ever imagined. For another, the job she turns out to have been hired for—leading an investigation her new boss doesn’t feel he can entrust to his own force—makes her queasy. The biggest problem, though, is one she doesn’t know about until it slaps her in the face. A fatal car accident that was anything but accidental has jarred loose a stash of methamphetamines and cash that’s become the center of a battle between the Sons of Freedom, Bakken County’s traditional drug sellers, and MS-13, the Salvadorian upstarts who are muscling in on their territory. It’s a setup that leaves scant room for law enforcement officers or for Kyle Westergaard, the 12-year-old paperboy damaged since birth by fetal alcohol syndrome, who’s walked away from the wreck with a prize all too many people would kill for.A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be welcome to return and tie up the gaping loose end Box leaves. The unrelenting cold makes this the perfect beach read.
Pub Date: July 28, 2015
Page Count: 272
Review Posted Online: April 21, 2015
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015
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