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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Fast-paced fun that’s fraught with peril. The Bells are such a nice couple.

THE SABOTEURS

Malign forces want to slow completion of the Panama Canal, but Isaac Bell has plenty to say about that in his 12th tale of derring-do.

In 1914, the U.S. is digging an enormous ditch across the mosquito-infested isthmus of Panama, with “mechanical dragons wreathed in steam” ripping out eight tons at a time in the Culebra Cut. Horrific incidents happen, and they’re not always accidents. A mysterious terrorist group called Viboras Rojas, or Red Vipers, seems responsible for an explosion that kills dozens and delays the canal’s construction. Isaac Bell of the Van Dorn Detective Agency is sent there to investigate, and a team of wild horses wouldn’t keep his wife, Marion, from coming along. Bell keeps mighty busy. Within days, he’s “thwarted an assassination attempt and brought a mad bomber to heel,” and he’s just getting started. The detective is exceptionally observant and ingenious. How he survives a catastrophic landslide is such a combination of quick thinking and luck that readers will hold their breath as they turn the pages, only realizing later how unlikely it all is. Meanwhile, Germany conspires with Argentina to severely delay the canal’s opening—Argentina would lose plenty of oceangoing commerce, and as it girds for war in Europe, Germany fears America’s rise as a global power. The proximate villain is Otto Dreissen, who correctly believes that former President Teddy Roosevelt won’t be able to resist traveling to see “the most transformative engineering feat in history…dangers be damned”—and there is danger, since the kaiser has authorized Roosevelt's assassination. But first Dreissen must arrange an “accident” for Bell, the “man with the nine lives of a cat.” Poor Otto. He should know it’s not that easy to kill off a series hero. Nor a series hero’s wife, even when she’s dangling from a dirigible. A bonus tip to readers: Stay away from manchineel trees and superheated steam.

Fast-paced fun that’s fraught with peril. The Bells are such a nice couple.

Pub Date: May 25, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-19122-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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Sprawling and only intermittently suspenseful till that last act: below average for this distinguished series.

OCEAN PREY

No oceans in Minnesota, you say? That won’t stop Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers, who are clearly determined to burn through their bucket list on the federal government’s dime.

The murders of three Coast Guard officers chasing a suspicious boat in Florida waters by crooks who set fire to the boat moments after abandoning it send shock waves through the DEA, the FBI, and eventually the U.S. Marshals Service. In short order Lucas and his colleague and pal Bob Matees find themselves on a task force Florida Sen. Christopher Colles convenes to find the drugs the fugitives managed to dump into the Atlantic before they shot their pursuers and arrest everyone in sight. The duo’s modus operandi seems to be to talk to everyone who’s seen anything, and then talk to everyone they’ve mentioned, and so on, taking regular breaks to drink, reminisce, and swap wisecracks. Everything is so relaxed and routine that fans of this long-running series will just know that Sandford has something more up his sleeve, and he does. Eventually the task force’s net widens to make room for Virgil, who, working with Marshal Rae Givens, hires himself out to the criminals as a diver who can retrieve those drugs while Lucas and his allies work their way higher and higher up the food chain of baddies. The cast is enormous and mostly forgettable, but Sandford manages to work up a full head of steam when Lucas realizes that his scorched-earth tactics have put Virgil and Rae in serious danger.

Sprawling and only intermittently suspenseful till that last act: below average for this distinguished series.

Pub Date: April 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-08702-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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