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BLUE LAKE

An impressive, wonderfully detailed legal thriller showing the best and worst of humanity.

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An administrative law judge finds himself both in love and in mortal danger in this debut mystery.

Judge Jason Erickson loves his work enforcing Environmental Protection Agency laws even if it is often a strenuous, uphill battle. Big money has tremendous influence in Wisconsin, and the political power structure is stacked against him. And he is slowly falling in love with Tara Highsmith, a science reporter who often attends his hearings. Tara tries to save her marriage, but her cheating husband wants out, clearing the way for her and Jason to plan a future. Meanwhile, there is a crucial case involving lakefront condominiums (“slipominiums”) backed by the sketchy Tommy Calandro. The attorney pleading the case for a permit is a hotshot lawyer named Earl Franks whose reckless lifestyle has made him beholden to Calandro. Bribes are dangled; threats are made. Jason records some of these exchanges. In the pivotal point in the book, Jason—about to take his findings to the police—is shot down in the street, as is Tara. The rest of the story focuses on a courtroom drama leading up to a startling conclusion. Boldt is a retired administrative law judge and passionate about justice and the environment, and this shows on every page of this remarkable novel. It’s no surprise that the courtroom scenes are so well handled. Jason is a finely drawn and thoughtful character, as is Tara. Their falling in love is delightfully paced. These are idealistic and wary people who make their own slow magic. The author even manages to make Earl a borderline sympathetic, or at least understandable, character. There is humor even in the worst of times, as when Earl tries to kill himself but finally realizes that his hybrid Lexus will not consistently spew enough carbon monoxide to do the deed. At some points, Boldt displays a wry wit: Jason “felt righteously indignant that he couldn’t even feel righteously indignant.” And the author’s vivid descriptions of the Wisconsin countryside will make readers put the Dairy State on their bucket lists.

An impressive, wonderfully detailed legal thriller showing the best and worst of humanity.

Pub Date: March 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-63299-516-2

Page Count: 312

Publisher: River Grove Books

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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HOME IS WHERE THE BODIES ARE

Answers are hard to come by in this twisting tale designed to trick and delight.

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Three siblings on very different paths learn that their family home may be haunted by secrets.

Eldest daughter Beth is alone with her fading mother as she takes her final breath and says something about Beth’s long-departed brother and sister, who may not have disappeared forever. Beth is still reeling from the loss of her mother when her estranged siblings show up. Michael, the youngest, hasn’t been home since their father’s disappearance seven years ago. In the meantime, he’s outgrown his siblings, trading his share of the family troubles for a high-paying job in San Jose. Nicole, the middle child, has been overpowered by addiction and prioritized tuning out reality over any sense of responsibility, much to Beth’s disgust. Though their mother’s death marks an ending for the family, it’s also a beginning, as the three siblings realize when they find a disturbing videotape among their parents’ belongings. The video, from 1999, sheds suspicion on their father’s disappearance, linking it to a long-unsolved neighborhood mystery. Was it just a series of unfortunate circumstances that broke the family apart, or does something more sinister underlie the sadness they’ve all found in life? In chapters that rotate among the family’s first-person narratives, the siblings take turns digging up stories and secrets in their search for solace.

Answers are hard to come by in this twisting tale designed to trick and delight.

Pub Date: April 30, 2024

ISBN: 9798212182843

Page Count: 270

Publisher: Blackstone

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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IDENTITY

Roberts revisits a favorite theme: The power of community can defeat a great evil.

After escaping from a serial killer, a woman tries to reclaim her life.

After a childhood as an Army brat, Morgan Albright is determined to put down roots. She bought a small house in the perfect neighborhood outside of Baltimore, living with a friend and working two jobs to make ends meet. Morgan’s life is happy and fulfilling, and she is making progress on her financial and career goals. Her perfect world is shattered when someone breaks into her home and murders her roommate. At first, the police assume it was a random act of violence, but after discovering the killer stole Morgan’s identity and her entire savings, they realize the crime fits the profile of a serial killer named Gavin Rozwell. The police inform Morgan that her roommate was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time; she was the real intended target. Morgan’s grief, coupled with the financial devastation from the identity theft, leaves her no choice but to return home to Vermont to live with her mother and grandmother. Morgan reconnects with her family and rebuilds her life, including landing the perfect job and falling in love. The police and FBI pursue Gavin, who continues to stalk and kill women, each time leaving a reminder at the crime scene that shows he’s fixated on Morgan as the one who got away. Roberts shows Gavin’s slow descent into obsession and madness as the inverse of Morgan’s healing journey back to herself and her community. The novel highlights Morgan’s preparations for the inevitable final countdown with Gavin, but the lack of immediacy and urgency of the threat makes for a subdued, restrained thriller.

Roberts revisits a favorite theme: The power of community can defeat a great evil.

Pub Date: May 23, 2023

ISBN: 9781250284112

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2023

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