Formulaic, but as always main character Ali manages to disarm.


From the prolific Jance (Trial by Fire, 2009, etc.), another entry in the Ali Reynolds saga in which the woman who would be a cop is sidetracked by a cyberspace Lothario, a female psychopath and a killer budget.

As part of an ongoing effort to join the Yavapai County (Ariz.) Sheriff’s Department on a full-time basis—she’d been serving as a consultant—Ali Reynolds has to complete an obligatory, 6-week course at the state police academy. She makes it, breathing hard. Not easy being a 40-something in a highly competitive population of 20- and 30-somethings. Sheriff Gordon Maxwell is almost as pleased with her glittering grades as she is, but an inflexible county budget comes between them. Consequently, she’s forced to put her ambitions on hold. Enter Brenda Riley, an old friend dating back to a period when they were both TV anchorwomen in California. Since then, booze and hard times have had their way with Brenda’s trademark perkiness. She needs help desperately, she tells Ali, who’s famous for not placing insurmountable obstacles before a sob story. Brenda, it seems, has fallen in love—a perfect man, she insists, despite the fact that she has yet to set eyes on him. Theirs has been a courtship in cyberspace, fulfilling if unconventional. Now, however, Richard Lowensdale has vanished and, not knowing what else to do, Brenda has turned to Ali. Reluctantly, Ali agrees to a bit of investigating, discovering soon enough that Brenda’s perfect Richard is the perfect Richard of a good many other women, including one he shouldn’t have gone near with a 10-foot pole. In her inimitable, take-no-prisoners style, Ali sorts it all out, of course. As one close observer says admiringly: “Did anyone ever tell you you’re a pushy broad? Smart but very pushy.”

 Formulaic, but as always main character Ali manages to disarm.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4165-6381-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2010

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet