As usual, Buster (Interlock, 2012, etc.) provides a playful workout for your sense of humor, unless, of course, you’re a...


Stand-up comic Buster Hightower, his beloved Carla and a gaggle of slapstick-driven neurotics chase after MacGuffins.

When Judith Roswell needs cash to placate the bill collectors, she brings a snazzy “family heirloom” to pawnbroker Randall Coll. Disappointed with the meager sum he offers, she snatches it back, returns home, packs up the treasures secreted in her basement and donates them to the charity Services for the Needy. The pawnbroker, however, has his wacky nephew Mad Dog follow her, a task he botches so badly that she hires a private eye to find out who’s stalking her. The shamus, black sheep Tyler Polk "Tip" Taylor III, estranged from his philandering dad and alcoholic mumsy, has recently received a diploma from the Gumshoe Online Institute of Private Detection. Judith hires Tip over the phone while she’s arranging for Carla and her Last Chance Agency to provide car insurance for his Aston Martin. The trio realize that Judith is fudging facts about her family treasures, which have now attracted the attention of reality TV developer Vance Popkirk and decrepit former Roswell housemaid Harriet, who thinks she’s entitled to some of the loot as payment for Judith’s father’s pawing her. Soon, Randall is spying on Mad Dog, who’s busy trying to strangle Harriet, shoot Judith’s brother and dragoon Popkirk into a partnership. Meanwhile, Tip tries to get into Judith’s pants, Harriet lunges for Tip’s zipper, and mumsy hires a lawyer to clean out the elder Tip in divorce proceedings. Carla, a matchmaker to the core of her middle-aged bones, tries to get the Taylors together again while Buster ends his nightly gig at the Westside Bowling Alley and Casino with stale but funny lawyer jokes. A little nookie and a lot of car chases and clandestine house entries complete the plot, which draws its inspiration from the 1954 robbery of the Pioneer Safe Deposit Vaults.

As usual, Buster (Interlock, 2012, etc.) provides a playful workout for your sense of humor, unless, of course, you’re a lawyer.

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4328-2717-5

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Five Star

Review Posted Online: Oct. 8, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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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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Joe’s fifth case is his best balanced, most deeply felt and most mystifying to date: an absolute must.


Crime-fighting Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett outdoes himself during a temporary transfer from sleepy Saddlestring to fashionable Jackson Hole.

Will Jensen, the Jackson game warden, was a great guy and a model warden, but once his wife left him six months ago, he spiraled into madness and suicide, and now Joe’s been called to replace him. The transition is anything but smooth. There’s no question of Joe’s family coming with him, so he’s reduced to hoping he can get a signal for the cell-phone calls he squeezes into his busy schedule. En route to his new posting, Joe has to pursue a marauding grizzly. He arrives to meet a formidable series of challenges. Cantankerous outfitter Smoke Van Horn wants to go on attracting elk with illegal salt licks without the new warden’s interference. Animal Liberation Network activist Pi Stevenson wants him to publicize her cause and adopt a vegan diet. Developer Don Ennis wants to open a housing development for millionaires who like their meat free of additives. Ennis’s trophy wife Stella simply wants Joe—and he wants her back. As he wrestles with these demands, and with a supervisor riled over Joe’s track record of destroying government property in pursuit of bad guys (Trophy Hunt, 2004, etc.), Joe slowly becomes convinced that Will did not kill himself.

Joe’s fifth case is his best balanced, most deeply felt and most mystifying to date: an absolute must.

Pub Date: May 5, 2005

ISBN: 0-399-15291-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

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