A thoroughly entertaining tale in an authentic setting that’s as colorful as its characters.


From the Big Bend Country Mysteries series , Vol. 3

A Texas sheriff copes with murder, attempted murder, and a returning ex-girlfriend in this third mystery series installment.

Clayton Shoot, now sheriff of Brewster County, Texas, isn’t expecting to have to deal with more than the usual rowdy crop of tourists in the area during spring break. That changes when the headliner for an annual cowboy poetry event is murdered, two septuagenarians are attacked on the Lost Mine Trail in Big Bend National Park, and Clayton’s former girlfriend, college professor Claire Harp, is back in town after a book tour and a walk on the red carpet with her 18-year-old, Oscar-winning brother. In this latest book in the enjoyable Big Bend Country Mystery series, Rusz again places fresh characters and inventive, parallel plots in the sprawling and diverse Trans-Pecos region of Texas with the deft touch of someone who knows the area well. Among the author’s returning, lively cast members are newly minted deputy sheriff Alonso Rangel, 24, and his 40-ish wife, police chief Fiona Tusk-Rangel, who was once a thorn in Clayton’s side but is now mellowed by marriage and impending motherhood; attack victims Ella Danton Nixon, who’s an anti-fracking, pro-gun screenwriter, and her dour husband, Barney; Clayton’s matchmaking sister, Beatrice Shoot; chief ranger Velma Furcron at Big Bend National Park; and FBI special agent Lee Perciak. New faces include wealthy businessman Andrew Crane, who’s oddly interested in Ella and Barney’s radical activism in the 1960s. Unexpectedly, the reasons behind Ella’s strange reaction to her own assault and the near-fatal assault on Barney come to light early on; so does a revelation from a surprising source in regard to the event. Unusually for a mystery, Rusz also doesn’t keep the primary culprit, or their motives, secret. A country singer’s fate may be rooted in the past, as well; the author informs readers of that motive for murder with genuine pathos. Meanwhile, Clayton and Claire’s mutual interest in solving the mysteries hints that a spark remains between them—and that a fourth book may be in the offing.

A thoroughly entertaining tale in an authentic setting that’s as colorful as its characters.

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2020

ISBN: 979-8-58-309725-8

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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One of the most successful of Box’s increasingly ambitious have-it-all thrillers.


The Wyoming winter brings maverick game warden Joe Pickett poachers, murderers, spies, and some ferocious bad weather.

Seeking a wounded elk and a marauding wolf during a brutal snowstorm, Joe is amazed to discover a human corpse sticking halfway out of a metal outbuilding on the Double Diamond ranch. While he’s conscientiously photographing the crime scene, somebody starts shooting at him. Ranch foreman Clay Hutmacher refuses to say anything about the building’s purpose until he checks with billionaire ranch owner Michael Thompson; Gov. Colter Allen abruptly orders Joe off the case; and departing Twelve Sleep County Sheriff Scott Tibbs, the boss who’d do anything to avoid having Joe make waves, reports that there’s no body at the place he described. Meanwhile, Joe’s old friend Nate Romanowski, an outlaw falconer, is approached by ex–Army Ranger Jason Demo, who’s trying to attract anti-government malcontents to join the secessionist Sovereign Nation, and Joe realizes that his predatory mother-in-law, Missy, is neglecting her fifth or sixth husband, attorney Marcus Hand, who’s dying of pancreatic cancer, to cozy up to Allen, who plans to launch his campaign for reelection at the public library headed by Joe’s wife, Marybeth. What does the death of University of Wyoming engineering professor Zhang Wei, if that’s really who the dead man was, have to do with all of this malfeasance? Like a patient spider, Box plays out plotline after plotline, balancing his sympathies adroitly between anti-establishment libertarians who’ve had enough of the coastal elites and officers sworn to serve and protect their communities, before knotting them all together with a climactic revelation that for better or worse will leave you gasping.

One of the most successful of Box’s increasingly ambitious have-it-all thrillers.

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2023

ISBN: 9780593331309

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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Enjoyable storytelling by two masters of the craft.


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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