by Indy Perro ‧ RELEASE DATE: N/A
A somber, moody, and absorbing mystery/thriller.
Awards & Accolades
A debut novel offers a noirish procedural set in the early 1990s that follows police detectives investigating a string of murders in a sordid, crime-laden American city.
Central City Detective Vinnie Bayonne’s latest case is an apparent overdose. At least, that’s the direction his informant Kane Kulpa wants the investigation to take. The victim, Mikey Connolly, was a bartender at Alfie’s, an establishment owned by Kane’s boss, Bruno Pantagglia, who specializes in such illicit deeds as drugs and prostitution. As Mikey was a known junkie, an overdose is indeed a likelihood. But Bayonne has questions concerning the crime scene, starting with the body’s fetal position and hands seemingly clasped in prayer, as if someone had posed it that way. He investigates the possible murder with his partner, freshly minted detective Adam McKenna. Their interrogations quickly lead them to another victim as well as the startling revelation that Mikey wasn’t the first murder, but the third, each body left in an identical pose. Meanwhile, Tran Van Kahn, a man police have long suspected of various crimes, is muscling in on some local territory for drug trafficking and prostitution. As it’s evident he simply kills uncooperative individuals, he seems to want Bruno to sit by idly while Tran takes over. Kane does what he can to avoid a potential war among the criminals but can’t disregard his own murky past that’s slowly resurfacing. The murder case and the trouble brewing between Tran and others are bound to clash, and further deaths are sadly unavoidable.
Perro’s novel is a persistently grim thriller. The detective story initially adopts the formula of buddy cop films with newly partnered polar opposites: Bayonne, “the grizzled, nicotine-stained veteran,” and McKenna, “the youthful, out-of-shape nerd.” But the author wisely fleshes out the characters, who gradually earn each other’s respect but also have personal backstories that affect them individually. For example, the positioning of the bodies disturbs McKenna, which he can’t explain but, readers eventually learn, has ties to his past. The story is bleak, an unflinching portrayal of Central City’s—and surrounding areas’—underbelly. Particulars are often unnerving, from assorted stains on walls and clothes to liquids that a cadaver discharges and even Bayonne’s perpetual chewing tobacco and resulting spit. Still, it’s atmospheric: “The precinct had seen better days, the brick was stained by the elements, and the roof had lost a few tiles over the years. When it rained hard, the detectives had to turn their trash cans into buckets to staunch the flood.” It’s perhaps not surprising that instances of humor are dark, like Bruno’s giggles resembling “a drowning Muppet.” For much of the novel, the murder investigation and Kane’s story act as two concurrent subplots. But the narrative ultimately concentrates a bit more on Kane. This proves beneficial, as the feud over territories turns increasingly more intense and violent. At the same time, the detectives don’t make much headway, though the reason for this becomes clearer as the story progresses and leads to a satisfying resolution.A somber, moody, and absorbing mystery/thriller.
Pub Date: N/A
Page Count: 209
Review Posted Online: April 1, 2020
Review Program: Kirkus Indie
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by Michael Connelly ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 7, 2023
The most richly accomplished of the brothers’ pairings to date—and given Connelly’s high standards, that’s saying a lot.
Harry Bosch and the Lincoln Lawyer team up to exonerate a woman who’s already served five years for killing her ex-husband.
The evidence against Lucinda Sanz was so overwhelming that she followed the advice of Frank Silver, the B-grade attorney who’d elbowed his way onto her defense, and pleaded no contest to manslaughter to avoid a life sentence for shooting Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Roberto Sanz in the back as he stalked out of her yard after their latest argument. But now that her son, Eric, is 13, old enough to get recruited by local gangs, she wants to be out of stir and at his side. So she writes to Mickey Haller, who asks his half-brother for help. After all his years working for the LAPD, Bosch is adamant about not working for a criminal defendant, even though Haller’s already taken him on as an associate so that he can get access to private health insurance and a UCLA medical trial for an experimental cancer treatment. But the habeas corpus hearing Haller’s aiming for isn’t, strictly speaking, a criminal defense proceeding, and even a cursory examination of the forensic evidence raises Bosch’s hackles. Bolstered by Bosch’s discoveries and a state-of-the-art digital reconstruction of the shooting, Haller heads to court to face Assistant Attorney General Hayden Morris, who has a few tricks up his own sleeve. The endlessly resourceful courtroom back-and-forth is furious in its intensity, although Haller eventually upstages Bosch, Morris, and everyone else in sight. What really stands out here, however, is that Connelly never lets you forget, from his title onward, the life-or-death issues behind every move in the game.The most richly accomplished of the brothers’ pairings to date—and given Connelly’s high standards, that’s saying a lot.
Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023
Page Count: 400
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023
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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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