The exuberant characters and swift pace will thrill new and returning readers.



From the The Jack Bertolino Series series

In Lansing’s (Dead is Dead, 2016, etc.) fourth series installment, retired inspector Jack Bertolino works a case for the feds to find an undercover FBI agent who’s missing.

When Agent Luke Hunter vanishes 18 months into an undercover gig, the FBI turns to former New York cop Jack, now living in Marina del Rey, California. Luke’s case involves gangsters and “person of interest” Vincent Cardona. Jack had previously tracked down Cardona’s kidnapped daughter, Angelica, a return favor for the mobster’s assistance after a cartel tried killing Jack’s son, Chris, a Stanford baseball pitcher. Jack and his associates, Mateo and Cruz, focus on an illegal gambling yacht, the Bella Fortuna, a joint venture for Cardona. They interrogate gamblers and yacht crew, looking for a motive to explain Luke’s disappearance. But while Jack receives support from Liz, Luke’s FBI agent sister, the feds question his allegiance when it appears he’s sleeping with Angelica—possibly dangerous info once Cardona hears about it. Jack, however, soon suspects the reason Luke is missing is unrelated to Cardona and may entail a revenge scheme likely to result in numerous deaths. Apparently, he’s onto something—someone makes an attempt on Jack’s life. Though Lansing opens with a relatively simple plot, he spins the tale into a mass of distrustful characters. There are potential cheaters on the Bella Fortuna and yacht employees with hidden agendas. Readers are immediately aware of Luke’s fate, but Jack’s investigation revolves around the genuine mystery of future nefarious plots. The book’s latter half amplifies the action significantly, including the introduction of a Molotov cocktail, and allots space for a bit of drollness. Mateo, for example, points out that Jack’s “list of enemies is growing exponentially” as he closes more cases. The satisfying conclusion, like in preceding novels, implies the series will continue.

The exuberant characters and swift pace will thrill new and returning readers.

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-8953-1

Page Count: 343

Publisher: Gallery Books/Karen Hunter Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 21, 2018

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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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