An engrossing legal mystery with an unforgettable villain.


A Memphis, Tennessee, attorney defends the first lady of the United States, who’s facing charges of murdering her spouse in Bates’ thriller.

Maddie Kincade may be a “small-time country lawyer,” but her latest case is in Washington, D.C. Jana Sinclair, her client, is a friend whom Maddie’s parents took in as a 15-year-old when her mom was institutionalized. She also happens to now be the first lady, and she’s accused of killing her husband, President Graham Sinclair. The evidence is damning: Secret Service agent Jack McCaffrey found Jana holding a bloody dagger in the Lincoln bedroom; the couple regularly fought; and she even provided authorities with a full, signed confession. For support, Maddie brings her mentor, professor Ollie Dodd, and her whip-smart assistant, Carly Gibbs. Unfortunately, Ollie is displaying signs of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, and although he discovers evidence that could turn the case in Maddie’s favor, he quickly forgets it. Although Jack believes the first lady is guilty, he’s quite taken with her attorney; it’s a mutual feeling, and romance quickly becomes a possibility. Meanwhile, in Texas, a man named Hoyt Tolliver has a deep-rooted animosity toward Maddie. When he hears that she’s in Washington, he travels there on a murderous mission. This novel is relatively lengthy at more than 475 pages, but it moves at a steady clip. Bates keeps his scenes and details concise, which generally benefits the story and characters; the subtle romantic relationship between Maddie and Jack is particularly notable. The courtroom scenes, on the other hand, suffer a bit, as they’re too short for much intensity or intrigue to develop. Moreover, the subplot involving Tolliver occasionally sidelines the main murder plot, particularly in the final act. That said, Tolliver’s backstory and motivation are truly disturbing, and he’s a frightening, formidable menace throughout. There are also several twists in Maddie’s case that may surprise even the most savvy readers.

An engrossing legal mystery with an unforgettable villain.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-69173-197-8

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: April 9, 2020

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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  • New York Times Bestseller


Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Delightfully readable fiction, but the mystery disappoints.


Ten years after having discovered her Oxford roommate’s dead body in front of the fireplace in their room, a young woman struggles with the realization that she may have helped send the wrong man to prison.

Hannah Jones arrives at Oxford hardly believing that she’s been accepted into this haven of learning and wealth. Sharing a picturesque set of rooms with the flamboyant and beautiful April Clarke-Cliveden, she divides her time between rigorous studying and energetic socializing with Emily Lippmana, Ryan Coates, Hugh Bland, and Will de Chastaigne, with whom she shares an attraction even though he's April’s boyfriend. It’s a good life except for the increasingly creepy interactions she has with John Neville, one of the porters. When Hannah finds April dead one night just after she’s seen Neville coming down the stairs from their rooms, it’s her testimony that puts him in jail. Ware divides the novel into alternating “before” and “after” chapters, with the narrative of Hannah’s college experience unfolding parallel to the events of her life nearly a decade later, when she’s married to Will and pregnant with their first child. Then Neville dies in prison and Hannah hears from a reporter who thinks he might actually have been innocent. Hannah begins to wonder herself, and she plunges back into the past to see if she can figure out what really happened that night. As usual with Ware, the novel is well crafted—the setting, characters, and dialogue are all engaging—but it lacks the author's signature sense of urgent and imminent threat. The novel unfolds smoothly, providing a few twists and turns, as the reader might expect, but not really delivering any true suspense. It also lacks the contrast between a luxurious background and the characters’ fears that Ware has often played to great effect. She does offer a deeper dive into the trauma of the survivors than she usually does, but this isn't the breathless page-turner one has come to expect from Ware.

Delightfully readable fiction, but the mystery disappoints.

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-9821-5526-1

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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