A cesspool of miscreants floods a strong tale of conscience and crime.

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THE STORM DRAIN MURDER

A lawyer leaves Los Angeles for life in a small town but finds it full of thieves, murderers, and too many women in this mystery.

Chain-smoking, Jason Brinkman, in his mid-30s and once a highly paid associate at an LA law firm, struggles financially after moving to Sea Cliff on the coast. Unknown to him, it’s a town that nearly everyone is dying to get out of, at least one of them literally. Jason’s wife, Courtney, a rising star at his former firm, wants a divorce, announcing, “You’re holding me back, Jason.” Unlike Jason, she apparently didn’t refuse to sleep with the firm’s top producer for decades, Gretchen Fautz. Expenses and child support deluge Jason, who counts on getting money from Geraldo O’Brien, his biggest client and the builder to whom he lent his life savings to finance a luxury spec house. Rumored to be involved in drug dealing and a man who always said he wanted to live in Mexico, Geraldo has disappeared along with his girlfriend, Danni Tedeski, and Jason’s money. Left behind is Danni’s teenage daughter, Tiffany, who has a drug problem. Jason worries about Tiffany because his own unhappy childhood mirrors hers. In spite of Jason’s having local waitress Erin Jones as his main squeeze, a long-legged blond named Rory catches his attention, and young, tube-topped Nikki Beach has designs on him. What suddenly puts Jason and the whole town on notice is the televised hoisting of a rotting corpse that two kids spotted lodged in a storm drain. An abundance of intriguing characters doing really bad things moves Cameron’s engaging story quickly to the finish line. Adding another level are the incisive questions of conscience and ethics that plague Jason. Writing can be first rate, for example: “Jason’s parents had enjoyed too much success early in life and not enough later. With success came drugs and alcohol, and as success dwindled, more drugs and more alcohol.” But this book limits Latinos’ roles to drug dealers, thieves, and laborers.

A cesspool of miscreants floods a strong tale of conscience and crime.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5481-8636-4

Page Count: 390

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2020

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The most over-the-top of Horowitz’s frantically overplotted whodunits to date—and that’s no mean feat.

MOONFLOWER MURDERS

Susan Ryeland, the book editor who retired to Crete after solving the mind-boggling mysteries of Magpie Murders (2017), is enticed to England to try her hand at another Chinese box of a case.

Eight years ago, the wedding weekend of Cecily Treherne and Aiden MacNeil at Branlow Hall, the high-end Suffolk hotel the bride’s parents owned, was ruined by the murder of Frank Parris, a hotel guest and advertising man who just happened to be passing through. Romanian-born maintenance man Stefan Codrescu was promptly convicted of the crime and has been in prison ever since. But Cecily’s recent disappearance shortly after having told her parents she’d become certain Stefan was innocent drives Lawrence and Pauline Treherne to find Susan in Crete, where they offer her 10,000 pounds to solve the mystery again and better. Susan’s the perfect candidate because she worked closely with late author Alan Conway, whose third novel, Atticus Pünd Takes the Case, contained the unspecified evidence that convinced Cecily that Detective Superintendent Richard Locke, now DCS Locke, had made a mistake. Checking into Branlow Hall and interviewing Cecily’s hostile sister, Lisa, and several hotel staffers who were on the scene eight years ago tells Susan all too little. So she turns to Atticus Pünd Takes the Case, whose unabridged reproduction occupies the middle third of Horowitz’s novel, and finds that it offers all too much in the way of possible clues, red herrings, analogies, anagrams, and easter eggs. The novel within a novel is so extensive and absorbing on its own, in fact, that all but the brainiest armchair detectives are likely to find it a serious distraction from the mystery to which it’s supposed to offer the key.

The most over-the-top of Horowitz’s frantically overplotted whodunits to date—and that’s no mean feat.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06295-545-6

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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Slow moving and richly layered.

THE SEARCHER

A retired cop takes one last case in this stand-alone novel from the creator of the Dublin Murder Squad.

Originally from North Carolina, Cal Hooper has spent the last 30 years in Chicago. “A small place. A small town in a small country”: That’s what he’s searching for when he moves to the West of Ireland. His daughter is grown, his wife has left him, so Cal is on his own—until a kid named Trey starts hanging around. Trey’s brother is missing. Everyone believes that Brendan has run off just like his father did, but Trey thinks there’s more to the story than just another young man leaving his family behind in search of money and excitement in the city. Trey wants the police detective who just emigrated from America to find out what’s really happened to Brendan. French is deploying a well-worn trope here—in fact, she’s deploying a few. Cal is a new arrival to an insular community, and he’s about to discover that he didn’t leave crime and violence behind when he left the big city. Cal is a complex enough character, though, and it turns out that the mystery he’s trying to solve is less shocking than what he ultimately discovers. French's latest is neither fast-paced nor action-packed, and it has as much to do with Cal’s inner life as it does with finding Brendan. Much of what mystery readers are looking for in terms of action is squeezed into the last third of the novel, and the morally ambiguous ending may be unsatisfying for some. But French’s fans have surely come to expect imperfect allegiance to genre conventions, and the author does, ultimately, deliver plenty of twists, shocking revelations, and truly chilling moments.

Slow moving and richly layered.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-73-522465-0

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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