Readers won’t mind that Davidson keeps moving the goal posts during the finale because the buildup is such a satisfying...

DON'T LOOK DOWN

A blackmail plot produces complications upon complications in a story of sex trafficking, class wars, and stolen identities.

Someone is blackmailing Jo Greaver with obscene photos of her previous life as a teenage sex trafficking victim. When she arranges to meet up with the man demanding payment, a gunfight breaks out, leaving Jo wounded and the blackmailer, Andray Baxter, apparently dead. When she returns home to pack a bag before taking it on the lam, Jo can’t bear to tell her boyfriend, Cal, what’s happened, especially since she’s never told Cal about her early life, when she was raised by her drug-addicted sister, Lori, on the mean streets of New York. The presence of Cal’s imposing, upper-crust mother, Priscilla McGarran, who just happens to be resting on their couch when Jo enters, doesn’t make it easy for Jo to escape, but she thinks she’s in the clear once she’s left Manhattan behind. Wrong: Her body gives out on her shortly thereafter. The NYPD’s Sheryn Sterling has already had a long day picking up her 14-year-old son following his own arrest for protesting deportations while black when she and her partner, Rafael Mendoza, are put on the case. At first it looks like Baxter’s murder is cut and dried. After all, he has a note in his pocket that essentially reads “Blackmail Jo Greaver.” But clues at the scene and Jo’s own behavior when she’s arrested make Sheryn suspect that there’s more to the story. Davidson incorporates details about Sheryn and Rafael that connect their experiences of being seen and judged by others as a black woman cop and a gay cop who walks with a cane with their willingness to look more closely at Jo and Andray. What they find is enough blackmail, impersonation, and class warfare to seriously complicate what seemed like a straightforward case.

Readers won’t mind that Davidson keeps moving the goal posts during the finale because the buildup is such a satisfying page-turner.

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9203-6

Page Count: 394

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how...

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THE A LIST

A convicted killer’s list of five people he wants dead runs the gamut from the wife he’s already had murdered to franchise heroine Ali Reynolds.

Back in the day, women came from all over to consult Santa Clarita fertility specialist Dr. Edward Gilchrist. Many of them left his care happily pregnant, never dreaming that the father of the babies they carried was none other than the physician himself, who donated his own sperm rather than that of the handsome, athletic, disease-free men pictured in his scrapbook. When Alexandra Munsey’s son, Evan, is laid low by the kidney disease he’s inherited from his biological father and she returns to Gilchrist in search of the donor’s medical records, the roof begins to fall in on him. By the time it’s done falling, he’s serving a life sentence in Folsom Prison for commissioning the death of his wife, Dawn, the former nurse and sometime egg donor who’d turned on him. With nothing left to lose, Gilchrist tattoos himself with the initials of five people he blames for his fall: Dawn; Leo Manuel Aurelio, the hit man he’d hired to dispose of her; Kaitlyn Todd, the nurse/receptionist who took Dawn’s place; Alex Munsey, whose search for records upset his apple cart; and Ali Reynolds, the TV reporter who’d helped put Alex in touch with the dozen other women who formed the Progeny Project because their children looked just like hers. No matter that Ali’s been out of both California and the news business for years; Gilchrist and his enablers know that revenge can’t possibly be served too cold. Wonder how far down that list they’ll get before Ali, aided once more by Frigg, the methodical but loose-cannon AI first introduced in Duel to the Death (2018), turns on them?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how little the boundary-challenged AI, who gets into the case more or less inadvertently, differs from your standard human sidekick with issues.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5101-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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The loose ends that make this the least satisfactory of Joe’s three cases to date still don’t inhibit Box’s gift for nonstop...

WINTERKILL

The latest in an award-winning series set in the Bighorn Mountains (Savage Run, 2002, etc.).

Minutes after Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett arrests Lamar Gardiner, District Supervisor for the Twelve Sleep National Forest, for firing into a herd of elk, killing seven animals and blindly continuing to reload with cigarettes after he runs out of shells, Gardiner manages to handcuff Joe to his steering wheel and bolt off into a winter storm, only to turn up pinned to a tree with a pair of arrows, his throat cut. And things get even messier from that point on. The attack on a federal agent, together with reports that the Nation of the Rocky Mountain Sovereign Citizens has established an encampment in Twelve Sleep, brings gung-ho US Forest Service investigator Melinda Strickland and FBI sharpshooter Dick Munker, a veteran of Waco and Ruby Ridge, to town. Strickland maintains that she’s just trying to get justice for a murdered official, but she seems awfully eager to tie the perp to the Sovereigns. By the time Joe arrests one of Gardiner’s disappointing killers and identifies the other, Strickland and Munker are already planning an all-out attack on the encampment. The prospect is a personal nightmare for Joe, since Jeannie Keeley, the drifter whose abandoned daughter April Joe and his wife have been trying to adopt, has reclaimed April and spirited her off to the dubious shelter of the Sovereigns.

The loose ends that make this the least satisfactory of Joe’s three cases to date still don’t inhibit Box’s gift for nonstop action and his ability to see every side of the most divisive issues in the West.

Pub Date: May 12, 2003

ISBN: 0-399-15045-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2003

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