by Jess Montgomery ‧ RELEASE DATE: Jan. 8, 2019
Vivid historical details, an intriguing mystery, and strong female characters.
Montgomery's debut novel introduces Lily Ross, a sheriff’s widow in 1920s Appalachian Ohio who takes on her husband Daniel’s work in order to solve his murder, and Marvena, Daniel’s childhood sweetheart, who helps Lily while also organizing mineworkers.
Marvena shows up at Lily’s house on the day of Daniel’s funeral, looking for Daniel to ask if he’s learned anything about her missing daughter, Eula, or her brother Tom, a miner who's been jailed recently for his union talk. The women have more than Daniel in common: Marvena’s common-law husband, John, a veteran of the real-life Battle for Blair Mountain mineworkers’ uprising, and Lily’s father, the town grocer, died together trying to rescue trapped miners six months earlier. Bonded by their common losses, their determination to learn what happened to Daniel, and their concern for better working conditions for miners, Lily and Marvena become allies. Montgomery portrays their class differences—Lily grew up in a prosperous family, Marvena has had a hardscrabble life—while convincing readers that the two women’s strong wills and shared tragedies are grounds for their alliance. The mysteries of Daniel’s murder and Eula’s disappearance lead to an unexpected outcome and a surprising murderer. As the book draws to a close, Lily, who was appointed sheriff by men who thought she’d cause them no trouble, is running for the position in her own right, perhaps setting the stage for further installments. Montgomery effectively provides backstory through her characters’ memories, but some of those passages are longer than necessary. Occasional interruptions to explain things like how to make sorghum are distracting, and many of the minor characters are not well fleshed-out. However, these are small problems in an otherwise engaging debut. An extensive Author's Note provides insight into the women and historical events that inspired Montgomery.Vivid historical details, an intriguing mystery, and strong female characters.
Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019
Page Count: 336
Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2018
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018
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by Kathy Reichs ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 17, 2020
Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.
Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.
A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.
Pub Date: March 17, 2020
Page Count: 352
Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020
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by James Patterson ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 5, 2003
As in summer movies, a triple dose of violence conceals the absence of real menace when neither victims nor avengers stir...
Dr. Alex Cross has left Metro DC Homicide for the FBI, but it’s business as usual in this laughably rough-hewn fairy tale of modern-day white slavery.
According to reliable sources, more people are being sold into slavery than ever before, and it all seems to be going down on the FBI’s watch. Atlanta ex-reporter Elizabeth Connolly, who looks just like Claudia Schiffer, is the ninth target over the past two years to be abducted by a husband-and-wife pair who travel the country at the behest of the nefarious Pasha Sorokin, the Wolf of the Red Mafiya. The only clues are those deliberately left behind by the kidnappers, who snatch fashion designer Audrey Meek from the King of Prussia Mall in full view of her children, or patrons like Audrey’s purchaser, who ends up releasing her and killing himself. Who you gonna call? Alex Cross, of course. Even though he still hasn’t finished the Agency’s training course, all the higher-ups he runs into, from hardcases who trust him to lickspittles seething with envy, have obviously read his dossier (Four Blind Mice, 2002, etc.), and they know the new guy is “close to psychic,” a “one-man flying squad” who’s already a legend, “like Clarice Starling in the movies.” It’s lucky that Cross’s reputation precedes him, because his fond creator doesn’t give him much to do here but chase suspects identified by obliging tipsters and worry about his family (Alex Jr.’s mother, alarmed at Cross’s dangerous job, is suing for custody) while the Wolf and his cronies—Sterling, Mr. Potter, the Art Director, Sphinx, and the Marvel—kidnap more dishy women (and the occasional gay man) and kill everybody who gets in their way, and quite a few poor souls who don’t.As in summer movies, a triple dose of violence conceals the absence of real menace when neither victims nor avengers stir the slightest sympathy.
Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2003
Page Count: 400
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2003
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