For readers who dream of hit men whose barks are worse than their bites.

SHADOWS IN DEATH

The savage gutting of a wine-and-spirits heiress in Washington Square Park brings Lt. Eve Dallas up against a baleful killer with both eyes firmly fixed on her husband and his family.

Wine distributor Jorge Tween shows so little emotion over the death of Galla Modesto, the wife he obviously married for her family’s money, that Eve and her partner, Detective Delia Peabody, instantly conclude that he’s behind her death. Since his home-monitoring system gives him a cast-iron alibi, it would be clear that he hired a contractor even if Eve’s husband, Roarke, hadn’t recognized a balefully familiar figure first staring at him, then running from the crime scene. The hit man is Lorcan Cobbe, an enforcer for Roarke’s late mobster father back in Dublin who’s convinced that he’s Patrick Roarke’s illegitimate son and that the billions Roarke made before and after he walked away from crime to marry Eve ought to be his. “This is almost too easy,” says Peabody, and she’s absolutely right. Once Eve and Peabody, in the most predictably entertaining sequence of this installment, have extracted a confession from Tween, it’s all Cobbe, all the time. Although the presumed killer has been a suspect or a person of interest in no less than 443 murders, his obsession with destroying Roarke and his relatives seems to lead him to act as incautiously and amateurishly as his client, and with a lot less excuse. Even the final sequence, in which Eve and Roarke take down the allegedly indestructible Cobbe, then turn him loose so that the two ancient antagonists can duke it out with bare fists, is comically anticlimactic.

For readers who dream of hit men whose barks are worse than their bites.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-25-020723-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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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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