An immensely likable sleuth headlines this lively crime tale.

DEAD CODE

A TRISHA CARSON MYSTERY

In this third installment of a mystery series, an amateur Northern California detective searches for a missing person and stumbles on cyberespionage.

Trisha Carson leads a relatively quiet life working part time at the San Francisco Giants ballpark. But she’s solved two murders just in the last few years. So when Tyler Stockton, the adult grandson of her live-in landlord, Earl, seemingly vanishes, Trisha’s curiosity kicks into high gear. With a bit of snooping, she’s on to something much bigger than a missing person’s case. What that is specifically, she’s not exactly sure, but it involves a business heavily invested in cyberspying. There’s also a possible link to Earl, who flies and designs drones, which could put him, Trisha, and her dad, Robert, who lives with them as well, in peril. As Trisha digs for information on these cyberspies, she suspects a hacker has somehow bugged her house, made mysterious charges to her credit card, and nosed around on her computer and phone. As if this weren’t enough, Trisha seems to have a new admirer, Burk Dennison, a man who’s fine as “eye candy” but whose frequent run-ins with her eventually become contrived and stalker-ish. Carroll packs this installment with dynamic plot turns. While the enigmatic villains and their initially unclear objective complicate the story, everything makes sense by the end. Trisha’s intriguing personal life fuses well with her amateur investigation. For example, she only recently reconnected with Robert, who abandoned her and her younger sister, Lena, decades ago; this sparks brief but endearing scenes of Trisha and her father on the case together. Though her deductive skills, at least in this novel, rely too much on luck, Trisha proves far smarter and more prudent than the “danger junkie” she believes she is. The author’s pithy writing deftly blends technological jargon with relatable humor, such as the two sisters blaming each other for waking up Timmy, Lena’s 6-month-old son.

An immensely likable sleuth headlines this lively crime tale.

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2021

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Indies United Publishing House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2021

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Enjoyable storytelling by two masters of the craft.

22 SECONDS

Lindsay Boxer faces a ton of trouble in the latest entry in Patterson and Paetro’s Women’s Murder Club series.

Senior crime reporter Cindy Thomas is writing a biography of Evan Burke, a notorious serial killer who sits in solitary confinement in San Quentin. She’s kidnapped by thugs wanting her to talk about her best friend, Lindsay Boxer, who’s an SFPD homicide detective and the story’s main character. San Francisco has a restrictive new gun law, and gun-totin’ folks everywhere have their boxer shorts in a twist. A national resistance movement has formed—Defenders of the Second—whose motto is “We will not comply.” They find it outrageous that the new law makes it illegal to own a gun that can kill 50 people with a single clip. Meanwhile, lots of bodies show up: A young girl disappears and is later found dead in a ditch, and ex-cops are found dead with their lips stapled shut and “You talk, you die” written on their foreheads. An inmate is found hanged in prison. And “a massive but unspecified load of military-style weaponry was en route from Mexico to the City by the Bay.” In a “frustrating, multipronged case,” there’s a harrowing shootout memorialized in a video showing “twenty-two of the scariest seconds” of Boxer’s life. She’s an appealing series hero with loving family and friends, but she may arrive at a crossroads where she has “to choose between my work and [my] baby girl.” The formulaic story has unmemorable writing, but it’s entertaining and well told. You probably won’t have to worry about the main characters, who have thus far survived 21 adventures. Except for the little girl, you can expect people to get what they deserve. It's relatively mild as crime novels go, but the women characters are serious, strong, and admirable.

Enjoyable storytelling by two masters of the craft.

Pub Date: May 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-49937-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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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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