It’s as if Robb armed Offred, gave her backup, and turned Margaret Atwood’s dystopian fable into a comic book.

FAITHLESS IN DEATH

Lt. Eve Dallas follows the path from the murder of a West Village sculptor to a fearsomely powerful cult.

Dallas and Detective Delia Peabody’s snap forensic analysis in the apartment of Ariel Byrd suggests that the young woman enjoyed wine and sex shortly before she was beaten to death with her own mallet. The absence of a condom or any trace of seminal fluids suggests that her final partner was a woman—perhaps Gwendolyn Huffman, the friend who’d had an appointment to sit for a sculpture. Dallas and Peabody, who take against Gwen from the get-go, derive particular pleasure from attacking the tissue of lies she fed them during their first encounter, and their second, in one of the New York Police and Security Department's interrogation rooms, breaks her wide open. But Gwen didn’t kill her lover; that job seems to have fallen to a member of Natural Order, the cult the Rev. Stanton Wilkey founded with significant financial backing from Gwen’s wealthy parents. Natural Order had counted on Gwen’s ability to lure her fiance, millionaire attorney Merit Caine, into their clutches, and when Ariel threatened the impending nuptials, one of them took her out. But which one? As Dallas and Peabody see in a visit to the cult’s closely guarded compound, Wilkey runs a tight ship, and it’s hard to believe that any of his underlings would have gone freelance without authorization from their racist, misogynistic, anti-gay, rapist master. As the franchise heroine squares off against an outsize villain who ticks all the anti-social boxes, readers around the world will be united in their absolute certainty about what’s coming next.

It’s as if Robb armed Offred, gave her backup, and turned Margaret Atwood’s dystopian fable into a comic book.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2502-7274-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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Long, loose, and lax.

THE INK BLACK HEART

An overblown whodunit by Galbraith, nom de plume of one J.K. Rowling, pitting Robin Ellacott and Cormoran Strike against a murderous online troll.

On the internet, everyone can hear you scream. To boot, as a very bad actor named Anomie puts it, “nobody’s who they say they are.” Robin and Cormoran have quite the task on their hands when Edie Ledwell, a cartoonist whose show, The Ink Black Heart, is a hit on YouTube and has just been bought by Netflix, turns up to ask for help in chasing down an online group, Anomie at its helm, that has built an online game around her show. Grumbles Anomie, “She’s shitting all over the fans, saying they’re thick for liking our game.” Edie doesn’t last long; conveniently, she winds up in London’s Highgate Cemetery, ready for planting. All suspicion in what's now a murder case points to Anomie, a slippery character. Is he (or she) a criminal mastermind or just some creepy kid living in mom’s basement? It takes Robin and Cormoran reams of online chat–thick prose to discover the truth, sussing out the identities of characters with noms de net like Paperwhite and Fiendly1. Online identities are fluid, of course, which doesn’t help when the problem is how to lay down a coherent storyline, but it soon becomes apparent that, indeed, no one is quite who they say they are. One more thing is sure: Rowling, the subject of recent controversy, plays out her current preoccupations against an up-to-the-minute backdrop: Edie is accused of “multiple alleged transgressions, particularly against the disabled,” while a contemporary comes under the gun for having “ ‘misgendered’ a prominent trans woman,” minor plot points in a belabored narrative dotted with appearances by pedophiles, neo-Nazi cultists, “beta males,” incels, an obnoxious pickup artist, and a young woman who ends her sentences on a “rising inflection.” Who did the dastardly deed? After a thousand pages of this, the reader is likely to no longer care.

Long, loose, and lax.

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-41303-9

Page Count: 1024

Publisher: Mulholland Books/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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A high-octane thriller whose hero is tossed into one impossible situation after another. Best started early in the morning.

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WHAT HAPPENED TO THE BENNETTS

A hypernormal suburban family’s trip home from their daughter’s field hockey game leads them down a rabbit hole of criminal complications.

For some reason—maybe just because it’s a Mercedes—a pair of gunslingers pick court reporter Jason Bennett’s ride to carjack as he drives along a quiet road with his wife, photographer Lucinda, and their teenagers, Allison and Ethan. In the scuffle that follows, one of the carjackers is shot along with Allison, who dies in the hospital. Wait, it gets worse. A pair of FBI agents knocks on the Bennetts’ door at 3 a.m. to tell them that John Milo, the escaped carjacker, has framed Jason for the murder of his accomplice, George Veria Jr., in order to save himself from the wrath of Junior’s father, the kingpin of the George Veria Organization. Time is of the essence, the agents assure Jason and Lucinda: They have to leave their house and their old lives behind right now and go into the witness protection program. Sure enough, minutes after the three shellshocked Bennetts allow themselves to be driven off, a representative of the GVO sets fire to their house and follows up with a similar fire at Jason's office, and Lucinda’s office is vandalized. Warned off social media, the Bennetts can only watch helplessly as their friends and neighbors issue pleas for them to get in touch and self-styled “citizen detective” Bryan Krieger decides to launch his own freelance investigation, fueled by slanderous innuendo. Every time Jason thinks he’s finally got the situation figured out, Scottoline tosses in explosive new complications in the most relentless of all her mysteries.

A high-octane thriller whose hero is tossed into one impossible situation after another. Best started early in the morning.

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-525-53967-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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