The vibe, as usual, is that of a family gathering complete with amateur theatricals and homicide.

MURDER AT ST. WINIFRED’S ACADEMY

Murder strikes an amateur production of Arsenic and Old Lace—and not just those corpses stashed in the Brewster sisters’ basement.

Millionaire Alberta Ferrara Scaglione’s granddaughter, Upper Sussex Herald reporter Jinx Maldonado, has wonderful news. No, it’s not that her boyfriend has finally popped the question. It’s that her roommate, Nola Kirkpatrick, artistic director of the Tranquility Players, has persuaded a major Hollywood star to headline her new production of Arsenic and Old Lace. Or at least a former star, since childhood sweetheart Missy Michaels has been out of the spotlight since she gave Shirley Temple a run for her money 60 years ago. As “Missymania” settles over Tranquility and environs, members of Alberta’s family circle rush to claim roles in the play without auditioning. Her sister, Helen Ferrara, calls dibs on the second Brewster sister, and Father Sal DeSoto is cast as Teddy Brewster. But the production, directed by Nola’s boyfriend, Johnny Fenn, doesn’t provide a comeback for Missy after all because she’s murdered before the curtain goes up. Even though she’s clutching a bottle of arsenic in her dead hand, she’s been strangled, and Alberta promptly convenes Helen, Jinx, and Alberta’s sister-in-law Joyce Ferrara to investigate. There’s so much drama among the continuing cast that the poor suspects, mainly Johnny Fenn and leading man Kip Flanigan, have to clamor for attention. No matter how many complications follow, fans of the family will be relieved to know that the opening-night cast, heavy with substitutes, gets “more bravos than Patti LuPone and Nathan Lane had ever received.”

The vibe, as usual, is that of a family gathering complete with amateur theatricals and homicide.

Pub Date: May 25, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4967-3095-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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A smart summer escape.

PORTRAIT OF AN UNKNOWN WOMAN

Silva’s latest Gabriel Allon novel is a bit of a throwback—in the best possible way.

One-time assassin and legendary spymaster Gabriel Allon has finally retired. After saying farewell to his friends and colleagues in Israel, he moves with his wife, Chiara, and their two young children to a piano nobile overlooking Venice’s Grand Canal. His plan is to return to the workshop where he learned to restore paintings as an employee—but only after he spends several weeks recovering from the bullet wound that left him dead for several minutes in The Cellist (2021). Of course, no one expects Gabriel to entirely withdraw from the field, and, sure enough, a call from his friend and occasional asset Julian Isherwood sends him racing around the globe on the trail of art forgers who are willing to kill to protect their extremely lucrative enterprise. Silva provides plenty of thrills and, as usual, offers a glimpse into the lifestyles of the outrageously wealthy. In the early books in this series, it was Gabriel’s work as an art restorer that set him apart from other action heroes, and his return to that world is the most rewarding part of this installment. It is true that, at this point in his storied career, Gabriel has become a nearly mythic figure. And Silva is counting on a lot of love—and willing suspension of disbelief—when Gabriel whips up four old master canvases that fool the world’s leading art experts as a lure for the syndicate selling fake paintings. That said, as Silva explains in an author’s note, the art market is rife with secrecy, subterfuge, and wishful thinking, in no small part because it is almost entirely unregulated. And, if anyone can crank out a Titian, a Tintoretto, a Gentileschi, and a Veronese in a matter of days, it’s Gabriel Allon. The author’s longtime fans may breathe a sigh of relief that this entry is relatively free of politics and the pandemic is nowhere in sight.

A smart summer escape.

Pub Date: July 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-283485-0

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Harper

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: today

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A rarity: a police procedural more deeply invested in the victims than either the killer or the police.

ABANDONED IN DEATH

June 2061 is a perilous time for women in a downtown Manhattan neighborhood who happen to resemble a violent kidnapper’s mother.

The killer doesn’t seem to be trying to hide anything except his own identity. Ten days after snatching bartender Lauren Elder from the street as she walked home, he leaves her body, carefully dressed and made up, with even the gash in her throat meticulously stitched up and beribboned, where it’s sure to be found quickly, along with the chilling label “bad mommy.” When Lt. Eve Dallas and Detective Delia Peabody realize that Anna Hobe, a server at a nearby karaoke bar who disappeared a week ago under similar circumstances, was probably another victim of the same perp, the clock begins ticking down even before they learn that assistant marketing manager Mary Kate Covino has gone missing as well. Dallas, Peabody, and the helpers who’ve made Robb’s long-lived franchise even more distinctive than its futuristic setting race to find the women or identify their kidnapper before he reverts once again to the 5-year-old abandoned by his mother many years ago. The emphasis this time is on investigative procedure, forensics (beginning with the Party Girl perfume and the Toot Sweet moisturizer the murderer uses on the corpses of his victims), and the broader danger women in every generation face from men who just can’t grow up.

A rarity: a police procedural more deeply invested in the victims than either the killer or the police.

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-2502-7821-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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