Despite his signature fast pace and multifaceted, visually striking characters, Van Lente (Ten Dead Comedians, 2017) merges...



A roving comic-book artist loses his mentor, his nemesis, and his hope for a love life over the course of one Comic-Con, which threatens the loss of his freedom as well.

Michael “Mike M” Miller thinks nothing of it when his comic-book character Violent Violet picks him up from the San Diego airport. After all, he’s in town for Comic-Con, a celebration of comic books, where costumes are an essential part of the experience. It’s a shame when Violet gives Mike the news that his longtime mentor and friend Benjamin Kurtz, aka Ben K, the creator of Mister Mystery, has died too suddenly to give Mike a chance to say goodbye. The news definitely makes Mike reflect on his own lifestyle. Since a breakup with his wife, Christine Black, a few years ago, Mike has become a nomad, traveling to different cities’ Comic-Cons, drawing some custom illustrations for fans, and then shuffling off to the next venue. Even the people around Mike don’t change from city to city. Though he hasn’t been pleased to learn that Christine was supposed to be in San Diego, he especially hopes to avoid Danny Lieber, one of Atlas Entertainment’s biggest hacks. Mike has never gotten over Christine’s cheating on him with Danny, which added insult to injury after Danny tried to cut Mike’s per-page rate. But Mike’s hopes for reconciliation seem to be dashed by the news that Christine has moved on to another winner in current it writer Sebastian Mod. Christine’s choice of partner may make Sebastian Mike’s biggest enemy. But when Danny is murdered at the con, Mike becomes the obvious suspect anyway. If Mike didn’t kill Danny, who did? Unless the cops find a more likely suspect, Mike may finally put down roots in a San Diego prison.

Despite his signature fast pace and multifaceted, visually striking characters, Van Lente (Ten Dead Comedians, 2017) merges mystery and comics culture with mixed results and perhaps too many subplots. Tom Fowler's accompanying illustrations are accomplished, but the book format doesn’t display them to best advantage.

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68369-034-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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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

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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An appealing new heroine, a fast-moving plot, and a memorably nightmarish family make this one of Box’s best.

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The creator of Wyoming Fish and Game Warden Joe Pickett (Wolf Pack, 2019, etc.) launches a new series starring a female private eye who messes with a powerful family and makes everyone involved rue the day.

Cassie Dewell’s been taking a monthly retainer from Bozeman attorney Rachel Mitchell for investigations of one sort and another, but she really doesn’t want to look into the case of Rachel’s newest client. That’s partly because Blake Kleinsasser, the fourth-generation firstborn of a well-established ranching family who moved to New York and made his own bundle before returning back home, comes across as a repellent jerk and partly because all the evidence indicates that he raped Franny Porché, his 15-year-old niece. And there’s plenty of evidence, from a rape kit showing his DNA to a lengthy, plausible statement from Franny. But Cassie owes Rachel, and Rachel tells her she doesn’t have to dig up exculpatory evidence, just follow the trail where it leads so that she can close off every other possibility. So Cassie agrees even though there’s an even more compelling reason not to: The Kleinsassers—Horst II and Margaret and their three other children, John Wayne, Rand, and Cheyenne, Franny’s thrice-divorced mother—are not only toxic, but viperishly dangerous to Blake and now Cassie. Everyone in Lochsa County, from Sheriff Ben Wagy on down, is in their pockets, and everyone Cassie talks to, from the Kleinsassers to the local law, finds new ways to make her life miserable. But Cassie, an ex-cop single mother, isn’t one to back down, especially since she wonders why anyone would take all the trouble to stop an investigation of a case that was as rock-solid as this one’s supposed to be.

An appealing new heroine, a fast-moving plot, and a memorably nightmarish family make this one of Box’s best.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-05105-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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