Aficionados of Arizona and World War I history will particularly enjoy this story, which offers a wide scope of action.


The Place Where The Giant Fell

In Hardy’s (Whisper in My Ear, 2015, etc.) historical crime novel, an ambitious judge in pre-statehood Arizona sacrifices life and love while his daughter stays true to her own heart.

In 1912 Arizona, Judge Horace Benton maneuvers people like chess pieces to meet his goals of becoming governor of Arizona and then president of the United States. To that end, he postpones his marriage to his Mexican housekeeper and lover, Maria, losing her love but removing a potential hindrance to his career. He orchestrates an alignment between his daughter, Carrie, and Earl Remington, the son of a wealthy rancher, and is certain that she’ll thank him for it: “Carrie will appreciate what I am doing even more when she becomes First Daughter of the American nation.” But first, he must remove Carrie’s true love, Rodney Buchard, a respected young man of Mexican descent. Judge Benton hires a local ne’er-do-well, Oliver Draper, to kill Rodney, but Carrie and the young man foil Draper’s effort, protecting themselves in their secret meeting place—a hidden alcove within nearby Fire Mountain. The just, lawful Marshal Max Greystone heads that murder investigation, and also looks into the death of Ida Mae Carrington, a peer of Rodney’s and Carrie’s. When Rodney and Earl both get drafted into World War I and serve in the same infantry division, Judge Benton convinces Earl to use the opportunity to get rid of Rodney once and for all. Although Judge Benton’s nefarious aims advance the plot, Carrie’s emotional integrity forms the heart of the story. The extended flashback that makes up the bulk of the novel drops Carrie’s perspective when the action moves to the European battlefields, and the details about the war are often engaging but sometimes flat: “Some of the outfits the recruits were issued were woolen winter issue, even though it was May.” However, for those who love heavy doses of historical fact in their fiction, this is a minor issue, as this inverted detective story is an absorbing read. 

Aficionados of Arizona and World War I history will particularly enjoy this story, which offers a wide scope of action.

Pub Date: May 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5239-7315-6

Page Count: 168

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2016

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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

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Child builds tension to unbearable extremes, then blows it out in sharply choreographed violence, even if his plot has more...


From the Jack Reacher series , Vol. 5

Smashingly suspenseful fifth in Child’s series (Running Blind, 2000, etc.) lands this British author’s rootless, laconic action hero in southwest Texas, where a femme fatale lures him into a family squabble that inevitably turns violent.

In the kind of daylight-noir setting that Jim Thompson loved, ex-military cop Jack Reacher has his thumb out on a lonely west Texas highway when he’s picked up by Carmine Greer, the Mexican-American wife of bad-ol’-boy Sloop Greer. It seems that Sloop, elder son of a white-trash-turned-oil-rich ranching dynasty, is nearing the end of a prison term for tax evasion, and Carmine, whose body Reacher sees is marked with signs of physical abuse, wants Reacher to be her bodyguard—or, failing that, kill the man in such a way that Carmine can still hold on to her terminally cute six-year-old daughter Ellie. Reacher refuses but decides to meet the folks: Rusty, Sloop’s racist, charmless mother, and Bobby, Sloop’s stupid, pugnacious brother. Meanwhile, a trio of paid assassins is littering the Texas roadside with corpses, starting with Sloop’s lawyer, Al Eugene. In a set-piece as good as anything in Elmore Leonard, Bobby sends two ranch-hands to ambush Reacher at an Abilene roadhouse filled with 20 other cowboys spoiling for a fight. Reacher walks away without a scratch, telling Bobby that his hospitalized ranch-hands have “quit.” Child twists his increasingly hokey plot into a pretzel when Sloop is found dead and Carmine confesses to killing him. Reacher just can’t believe that Carmine is guilty and teams up with Alice Aarons, a leggy Jewish lesbian fresh out of law school, who trusts him with her car, her handgun, and her life.

Child builds tension to unbearable extremes, then blows it out in sharply choreographed violence, even if his plot has more holes in it than the shirt Reacher uses for target practice.

Pub Date: July 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-399-14726-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2001

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