Intriguing characters take a wild ride through backwoods Wisconsin in this irresistible mystery.

BAD MOON RISING

Rural Wisconsin is darker than you might think in the third gripping mystery featuring a young woman sheriff.

Sheriff Heidi Kick has seen murder victims before. Even in Wisconsin’s Bad Axe County (or maybe especially there), people kill each other. But she’s never before seen one who looks like he crawled back out of the grave. Besides a coat of dirt, this dead man has two gunshot wounds, one boot, one bare foot, and no name. That’s also rare, since the sheriff knows almost everyone in her sparsely populated jurisdiction. As Heidi tries to find out who the man is and how he ended up dead in a ditch, Leroy “Grape” Fanta begins to suspect the stranger’s death might be connected to a string of unhinged letters and calls he’s received from someone who signs himself “FROM HELL HOLLOW.” Leroy, a Vietnam vet, has served as the dedicated editor-in-chief of the town’s newspaper for 43 years. But no more—he’s been fired, and the paper’s been turned into a shopper. Leroy and Heidi are friends who share a nemesis: Babette Rickreiner, a rich widow with a mean mouth and a dictator’s personality. She bought Leroy’s paper, and her spoiled, vicious son, Barry, is running against Heidi in the sheriff’s election with all the cheap tricks he can muster. Heidi tries to ignore them and do her job. From the site where the murder victim was found, she follows a trail of empty beer cans to a remote farm where she finds a young woman, dressed in the plain clothing of the Amish, passed out drunk and an older man nearly dead in the outhouse. Things accelerate from there for both Heidi and Leroy. Heidi has worries at home, too. She and her good-guy husband, Harley, have three kids, and Taylor, one of their twin sons, is acting out in unusual and worrying ways. And Heidi just might be pregnant again. This is the third book in Galligan’s series about Heidi, who has become a solidly engaging character amid a small-town swarm of strange folks. The plot is gritty and propulsive, the prose well crafted, the finale satisfyingly bizarre.

Intriguing characters take a wild ride through backwoods Wisconsin in this irresistible mystery.

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-9821-6653-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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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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DEVOLUTION

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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Well-done crime fiction. Baldacci nails the noir.

DREAM TOWN

An old-fashioned gumshoe yarn about Hollywood dreams and dead bodies.

Private investigator Aloysius Archer celebrates New Year’s Eve 1952 in LA with his gorgeous lady friend and aspiring actress Liberty Callahan. Screenwriter Eleanor Lamb shows up and offers to hire him because “someone might be trying to kill me.” “I’m fifty a day plus expenses,” he replies, but money’s no obstacle. Later, he sneaks into Lamb’s house and stumbles upon a body, then gets knocked out by an unseen assailant. Archer takes plenty of physical abuse in the story, but at least he doesn’t get a bullet between the eyes like the guy he trips over. A 30-year-old World War II combat veteran, Archer is a righteous and brave hero. Luck and grit keep him alive in both Vegas and the City of Angels, which is rife with gangsters and crooked cops. Not rich at all, his one luxury is the blood-red 1939 Delahaye he likes to drive with the top down. He’d bought it with his gambling winnings in Reno, and only a bullet hole in the windscreen post mars its perfection. Liberty loves Archer, but will she put up with the daily danger of losing him? Why doesn’t he get a safe job, maybe playing one of LA’s finest on the hit TV show Dragnet? Instead, he’s a tough and principled idealist who wants to make the world a better place. Either that or he’s simply a “pavement-pounding PI on a slow dance to maybe nowhere.” And if some goon doesn’t do him in sooner, his Lucky Strikes will probably do him in later. Baldacci paints a vivid picture of the not-so-distant era when everybody smoked, Joe McCarthy hunted commies, and Marilyn Monroe stirred men’s loins. The 1950s weren’t the fabled good old days, but they’re fodder for gritty crime stories of high ideals and lowlifes, of longing and disappointment, and all the trouble a PI can handle.

Well-done crime fiction. Baldacci nails the noir.

Pub Date: April 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5387-1977-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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