One last testament to the importance of community in maintaining the values that make America great, or at least human.

Gregor Demarkian’s last case.

Marta Warkowski has lived all her 72 years in a three-bedroom apartment in Philadelphia's Alder Arms despite the best efforts of Miguel Hernandez, the building’s super, to cajole her to leave or evict her. She knows all the dodges: Bring your rent check directly to Cary Alder’s office; make sure to get a receipt every month; and don’t let the bastards think they can get away with bullying you. About the only thing that will get her to move is death. Even when her body, stuffed into a plastic garbage bag, is tossed from a van onto the street, she’s not quite dead, only comatose. It’s Hernandez who’s dead, lying on the floor of her coveted apartment. Father Tibor Kasparian and 14-year-old Tommy Moradanyan, who are on the scene, are already preoccupied with their own problems, which range from the imprisonment of Tommy’s father, attorney Russ Donahue, to Tibor’s recent placement of Javier, an abandoned child, in foster care. Since Russ Donahue’s crimes include shooting Gregor Demarkian, who’s also agreed with his wife, Bennis Hannaford, to take in Javier, it’s only natural that the Philadelphia Police Department comes calling on Gregor for help. This time, though, the interest in the Armenian American Poirot’s sleuthing is outpaced by Haddam’s exposition of an all-too-plausibly widespread plot to smuggle undocumented people into the country and exploit them in every possible way. The result is a fitting sunset vehicle for Haddam, a pseudonym for Orania Papazoglou, who died in 2019 and is memorialized in a brief, glowing afterword.

One last testament to the importance of community in maintaining the values that make America great, or at least human.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-25-077049-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 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

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020


A female-forward thriller that makes a strong case that smart, unflinching women should run the world.

Letty Davenport seeks to infiltrate a group of freelance hackers in order to thwart their next project—or maybe to help it along.

Ordinary People, an anti-MAGA cabal of lefties, has already pulled off a string of small-scale disruptions, and the word from the CIA is that they plan to take down the power in the Twin Cities, where Letty grew up. Sen. Christopher Colles, the unofficial boss who’s been impressed by Letty’s unflappable skills with weaponry, wants her to pose as the girlfriend of National Security Agency computer specialist Rod Baxter as he seeks to hook up with Ordinary People across the country in California. After their first attempt goes spectacularly wrong, their forces are beefed up by CIA operative Barbara Cartwright and Department of Homeland Security investigator John Kaiser, who worked with Letty in The Investigator (2022), and they succeed in getting close to Craig Sovern, a prominent Ordinary Person who’s already been wreaking havoc on a number of railroad trains and plans to go bigger and bolder. And these aren’t just any trains. Realizing that Ordinary People’s attacks on the hate-fueled social media platform SlapBack may be a sign that their larger operations are providing an important service to the cause of world peace, Letty and her peeps switch from trying to bring down the organization to trying to protect it from the likes of Russian agent Arseny Stepashin and his trusted contractor Tom Boyadjian—all while keeping everything hush-hush. Yeah, right. Sandford alternates brisk action sequences with a steady stream of revelations that make equivocal players and their ambiguous relations even more complicated.

A female-forward thriller that makes a strong case that smart, unflinching women should run the world.

Pub Date: April 11, 2023

ISBN: 9780593422410

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2023