A gripping murder mystery with absorbing subplots and a superlative cast.


The brutal killing of a Minnesota ex-priest stirs up dark secrets in this thriller.

After she lets a prime suspect get away, Det. Paige McGraw is determined to prove herself at the St. Paul homicide unit. Her latest case is a body in a college library showing signs of strangulation and post-mortem mutilation. The victim is Father Paul Sayer, a defrocked priest and convicted child molester out on parole. Readers know that his killer, called “Friend” (as he signed a note to Sayer), meticulously covers his tracks and already has a second target in mind. Meanwhile, Paige and her partner and potential mentor, Inspector Clarissa Wright, investigate with the assumption that the murder ties to Sayer’s disturbing crime and someone is out for revenge. But this increasingly complicated case soon ropes in a priest as well as a local businessman who’s reputedly the “richest person in Minnesota” and maybe even the country. The detectives hope a probable witness—student and assistant librarian Jiāo Xiè—can lead them to the murderer before he kills again. Bennetts’ deliberately paced story supplies multiple narrative perspectives. The tale oscillates among several characters, including Friend, the investigating partners, and, in flashbacks to an unknown time, a boy who falls prey to Sayer. As these characters take precedence over the mystery, it won’t be long before readers unmask the killer. The cast nevertheless enthralls, from appealing Jiāo to charmingly gruff Lou Nicosia, a former cop who’s now working a campus security job. Various characters are immersed in all sorts of things, including blackmail, a coverup, and anonymous calls from a burner phone. One player may be hiding sexual proclivities. The exciting final act is pleasantly unexpected, both in terms of its setting and characters. This leads to a coda that’s just as surprising and unforgettable.

A gripping murder mystery with absorbing subplots and a superlative cast.

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2023

ISBN: 9781667873657

Page Count: 360

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2022

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A unique story of transcendent love.


An aimless young musician meets the girl of his dreams only to have his newfound happiness threatened by several inexplicable—and possibly supernatural—events.

The story opens as Leeds Gabriel meets with a detective while his girlfriend, Layla, is restrained in a room one flight above them. Through the interview, readers learn that Leeds was wasting both his time and his musical talent playing backup for a small-town wedding troupe called Garrett’s Band when he spied Layla dancing her heart out to their mediocre music at a wedding. When Leeds approaches Layla, their connection is both instant and intense. A blissful courtship follows, but then Leeds makes the mistake of posting a picture of himself with Layla on social media. A former girlfriend–turned-stalker wastes no time in finding and attacking Layla. Layla spends months recovering in a hospital, and it seems the girl Leeds fell for might be forever changed. Gone is her special spark, her quirkiness, and the connection that had entranced Leeds months before. In a last-ditch effort to save their relationship, he brings Layla back to the bed-and-breakfast where they first met. When they get there, though, Leeds meets Willow, another guest, and finds himself drawn to her in spite of himself. As events unfold, it becomes clear that Willow will either be the key to saving Leeds’ relationship with Layla or the catalyst that finally extinguishes the last shreds of their epic romance. Told entirely from Leeds’ point of view, the author’s first foray into paranormal romance does not disappoint. Peppered with elements of mystery, psychological thriller, and contemporary romance, the novel explores questions about how quickly true love can develop, as well as the conflicts that can imperil even the strongest connections. Despite a limited cast of characters and very few setting changes, the narrative manages to remain both fast-paced and engaging. The conclusion leaves a few too many loose ends, but the chemistry between the characters and unexpected twists throughout make for a satisfying read.

A unique story of transcendent love.

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-0017-8

Page Count: 301

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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Well-done crime fiction. Baldacci nails the noir.


An old-fashioned gumshoe yarn about Hollywood dreams and dead bodies.

Private investigator Aloysius Archer celebrates New Year’s Eve 1952 in LA with his gorgeous lady friend and aspiring actress Liberty Callahan. Screenwriter Eleanor Lamb shows up and offers to hire him because “someone might be trying to kill me.” “I’m fifty a day plus expenses,” he replies, but money’s no obstacle. Later, he sneaks into Lamb’s house and stumbles upon a body, then gets knocked out by an unseen assailant. Archer takes plenty of physical abuse in the story, but at least he doesn’t get a bullet between the eyes like the guy he trips over. A 30-year-old World War II combat veteran, Archer is a righteous and brave hero. Luck and grit keep him alive in both Vegas and the City of Angels, which is rife with gangsters and crooked cops. Not rich at all, his one luxury is the blood-red 1939 Delahaye he likes to drive with the top down. He’d bought it with his gambling winnings in Reno, and only a bullet hole in the windscreen post mars its perfection. Liberty loves Archer, but will she put up with the daily danger of losing him? Why doesn’t he get a safe job, maybe playing one of LA’s finest on the hit TV show Dragnet? Instead, he’s a tough and principled idealist who wants to make the world a better place. Either that or he’s simply a “pavement-pounding PI on a slow dance to maybe nowhere.” And if some goon doesn’t do him in sooner, his Lucky Strikes will probably do him in later. Baldacci paints a vivid picture of the not-so-distant era when everybody smoked, Joe McCarthy hunted commies, and Marilyn Monroe stirred men’s loins. The 1950s weren’t the fabled good old days, but they’re fodder for gritty crime stories of high ideals and lowlifes, of longing and disappointment, and all the trouble a PI can handle.

Well-done crime fiction. Baldacci nails the noir.

Pub Date: April 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5387-1977-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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