An enjoyable, well-plotted whodunit.

SHAMUS DUST

In this hard-boiled debut mystery, a private investigator seeks to solve a series of holiday murders.

The year is 1947, and London is still recovering from the devastation of war. Whole city blocks are still full of rubble. Mr. Newman, an American private investigator, responds to a call on Christmas morning from his client Councilor Drake who asks him to investigate an incident at a property he owns. What Newman finds is the body of Raymond Jarrett, a pimp shot dead in a nearby church. Newman is initially suspicious of the nurse who called it in, but soon he’s got plenty of other suspects: a missing university professor and his assistant; a hard-to-find sex worker named Terry Reilly; the abusive father of a young woman who befriended Reilly; and many other characters. Newman quickly finds that many have plenty to hide, and some aren’t too sad about Jarrett’s death, as he ran a blackmail racket involving compromising photos. As the suspects mount, so do the discoveries of dead bodies. Throughout this novel, Roger keeps the reader guessing. She does an especially good job of complicating the motive behind the killings, which at first seems fairly simple but later points to a far larger scheme. The author has a strong command of pace and plot, and the book moves at a good clip, with clues and other bits of information doled out along the way. She’s clearly a student of the hard-boiled masters, with plenty of Raymond Chandler–ian narration. The language is often vivid, clever, and humorous: Regarding a bloodstained coat, Newman says, “Maybe the janitor thought the professor’s Christmas turkey had put up a fight.” Too often, though, Roger goes overboard with the gumshoe poetry, and the meaning gets garbled: “The hull lifted on a creaming pad of bow wave and a trail of fractured blue glass unwound astern for a quarter mile.” But more often than not, the author successfully conjures an old-school detective-story feel: “You never had a wife?” someone asks Newman. “I’d have remembered,” he answers.

An enjoyable, well-plotted whodunit.

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-83859-043-7

Page Count: 376

Publisher: Troubador Publishing Ltd.

Review Posted Online: Sept. 25, 2019

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Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how...

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THE A LIST

A convicted killer’s list of five people he wants dead runs the gamut from the wife he’s already had murdered to franchise heroine Ali Reynolds.

Back in the day, women came from all over to consult Santa Clarita fertility specialist Dr. Edward Gilchrist. Many of them left his care happily pregnant, never dreaming that the father of the babies they carried was none other than the physician himself, who donated his own sperm rather than that of the handsome, athletic, disease-free men pictured in his scrapbook. When Alexandra Munsey’s son, Evan, is laid low by the kidney disease he’s inherited from his biological father and she returns to Gilchrist in search of the donor’s medical records, the roof begins to fall in on him. By the time it’s done falling, he’s serving a life sentence in Folsom Prison for commissioning the death of his wife, Dawn, the former nurse and sometime egg donor who’d turned on him. With nothing left to lose, Gilchrist tattoos himself with the initials of five people he blames for his fall: Dawn; Leo Manuel Aurelio, the hit man he’d hired to dispose of her; Kaitlyn Todd, the nurse/receptionist who took Dawn’s place; Alex Munsey, whose search for records upset his apple cart; and Ali Reynolds, the TV reporter who’d helped put Alex in touch with the dozen other women who formed the Progeny Project because their children looked just like hers. No matter that Ali’s been out of both California and the news business for years; Gilchrist and his enablers know that revenge can’t possibly be served too cold. Wonder how far down that list they’ll get before Ali, aided once more by Frigg, the methodical but loose-cannon AI first introduced in Duel to the Death (2018), turns on them?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how little the boundary-challenged AI, who gets into the case more or less inadvertently, differs from your standard human sidekick with issues.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5101-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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POP GOES THE WEASEL

After a flight in fantasy with When the Wind Blows (1998), Patterson goes to ground with another slash-and-squirm psychokiller page-turner, this one dedicated to “the millions of Alex Cross readers, who so frequently ask, can’t you write faster?” By day, Geoffrey Shafer is a charming, 42-year-old British Embassy paper-pusher with a picture-perfect family and a shady past as an MI-6 secret agent. Come sundown, he swallows a pharmacy of psychoactive pills, gulps three black coffees loaded with sugar, and roams the streets of Washington, D.C., in a battered cab, where, disguised as a black man, he rolls dice to determine which among his black female fares he—ll murder. Afterwards he dumps his naked victims in crime-infested back alleys of black- slum neighborhoods, then sends e-mails boasting of his accomplishments to three other former MI-6 agents involved in a hellish Internet role-playing game. “I sensed I was at the start of another homicide mess,” sighs forensic-psychologist turned homicide-detective Alex Cross. Cross yearns to catch the “Jane Doe murderer” but is thwarted by Det. Chief George Pittman, who assigns sexy Det. Patsy Hampton to investigate Cross and come up with a reason for dismissing him. Meanwhile, Cross’s fiancÇe is kidnaped during a Bermuda vacation, and an anonymous e-mail warns him to back off. He doesn’t, of course, and just when it appears that Patterson is sleep-walking through his story, Cross nabs Shafer minutes after Shafer kills Det. Hampton. During the subsequent high-visibility trail, Shafer manages to make the jury believe that he’s innocent and that Cross was trying to frame him. When all seems lost, a sympathetic British intelligence chief offers to help Cross bring down Shafer, and the other homicidal game-players, during a showdown on the breezy beaches of Jamaica. Kinky mayhem, a cartoonish villain, regular glimpses of the kindly Cross caring for his loved ones, and an ending that spells a sequel: Patterson’s fans couldn’t ask for more.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 1999

ISBN: 0-316-69328-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1999

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