Minor blemishes aside, this puppy tells a waggly tale the reader is happy to follow down the roughest paths.

RUSTY PUPPY

A woman's plea to find her son's murderer sets the stage for the latest Hap and Leonard mystery.

When an older black woman engages Hap and Leonard to find out who murdered her son, her plea for them to take her case ends with a bombshell: she believes that the local police are the killers. Not surprisingly, Hap and Leonard soon run afoul of the corrupt police ruling over a scruffy Texas town. But considering the two have a talent for stirring up trouble, they also incur the enmity of a group of bad-news project kids, some local drug dealers, the operators of an illegal fight club, a corrupt lawyer, and generally everyone they run into. The best of the supporting characters is named Reba, a young black girl whom Leonard refers to as a vampire midget and whose dialogue is a consistently delightful work of foulmouthed art. (Imagine Wanda Sykes in Our Gang as directed and written by Quentin Tarantino.) The pleasure of any Hap and Leonard mystery is the yin-yang of the two heroes: white/black, straight/gay, liberal/conservative, easygoing/hair-trigger temper. Without making any brotherhood speeches, the books are rough-hewn fables of tolerance in action. Part of the reason it all goes down without any kind of "Kumbaya" ickiness is that Lansdale (Honky Tonk Samurai, 2016, etc.) writes such good smart-ass repartee. He also, though, in book after book, reaches a point where he takes the violence too far and breaks faith with the reader (it was a problem in the first season of the Hap and Leonard TV series as well), including here a rape dealt out to a character we've become fond of and a final brutal fistfight that goes on for too long.

Minor blemishes aside, this puppy tells a waggly tale the reader is happy to follow down the roughest paths.

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-31156-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Mulholland Books/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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Greed, love, and extrasensory abilities combine in two middling mysteries.

LABYRINTH

Coulter’s treasured FBI agents take on two cases marked by danger and personal involvement.

Dillon Savitch and his wife, Lacey Sherlock, have special abilities that have served them well in law enforcement (Paradox, 2018, etc.). But that doesn't prevent Sherlock’s car from hitting a running man after having been struck by a speeding SUV that runs a red light. The runner, though clearly injured, continues on his way and disappears. Not so the SUV driver, a security engineer for the Bexholt Group, which has ties to government agencies. Sherlock’s own concussion causes memory loss so severe that she doesn’t recognize Savitch or remember their son, Sean. The whole incident seems more suspicious when a blood test from the splatter of the man Sherlock hit reveals that he’s Justice Cummings, an analyst for the CIA. The agency’s refusal to cooperate makes Savitch certain that Bexholt is involved in a deep-laid plot. Meanwhile, Special Agent Griffin Hammersmith is visiting friends who run a cafe in the touristy Virginia town of Gaffers Ridge. Hammersmith, who has psychic abilities, is taken aback when he hears in his mind a woman’s cry for help. Reporter Carson DeSilva, who came to the area to interview a Nobel Prize winner, also has psychic abilities, and she overhears the thoughts of Rafer Bodine, a young man who has apparently kidnapped and possibly murdered three teenage girls. Unluckily, she blurts out her thoughts, and she’s snatched and tied up in a cellar by Bodine. Bodine may be a killer, but he’s also the nephew of the sheriff and the son of the local bigwig. So the sheriff arrests Hammersmith and refuses to accept his FBI credentials. Bodine's mother has psychic powers strong enough to kill, but she meets her match in Hammersmith, DeSilva, Savitch, and Sherlock.

Greed, love, and extrasensory abilities combine in two middling mysteries.

Pub Date: July 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-9365-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

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THE SILENT PATIENT

A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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