A solid opener to a proposed series that’s at its winsome best when its sleuths share the spotlight.

Too Many Motives For Murder

In Sinisi’s debut murder mystery, the discovery of a dead body in a Catholic church shocks a community.

When investment analyst Drew Bresson’s body turns up in a confessional at Saint Brigit’s, Detective Peter Guthrie brings in his pal Steve Garvin, a criminology professor who also works as a police consultant and profiler. Both Bresson and the church were robbed, but it seems that Bresson’s murder was the true aim. There’s no shortage of probable killers; suspects include Bresson’s wife, Diana, who’d had an affair; his co-worker and mistress, Hilda Xavier; and his affluent client Mike Reilly and investment broker Vincent Tindari, both of whom he’d accused of illicit or immoral conduct. The possible motives are also numerous, as the victim was often quick to point out the poor ethics of others. There’s a break in the case, however, with the arrival of an anonymous letter—which is followed by a second murder. Much of Sinisi’s novel reads like a police report, summarizing witness statements, evidence gathering, and Guthrie’s and Garvin’s conjectures. This sometimes makes the narrative feel mechanical, but it also allows for methodical examination: The investigators scrutinize every possibility, even looking into associates of the suspects, such as Diana’s lover and Tindari’s wife. Sinisi also manages to insert some emotion into the investigation: As Garvin develops feelings for Diana, Guthrie has him argue a theoretical case against her so that he’ll remain objective. Some of the duo’s rationales aren’t always clear; at one point, for example, they believe that a “sex group” involved drugs and minors, despite no evidence to support that belief. However, watching the two men debate every aspect of the case is a sheer delight, and the author smartly avoids flagrant signs of smoking guns.

A solid opener to a proposed series that’s at its winsome best when its sleuths share the spotlight.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2014

ISBN: 978-1499722932

Page Count: 210

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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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. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be...


Box takes another break from his highly successful Joe Pickett series (Stone Cold, 2014, etc.) for a stand-alone about a police detective, a developmentally delayed boy, and a package everyone in North Dakota wants to grab.

Cassandra Dewell can’t leave Montana’s Lewis and Clark County fast enough for her new job as chief investigator for Jon Kirkbride, sheriff of Bakken County. She leaves behind no memories worth keeping: her husband is dead, her boss has made no bones about disliking her, and she’s looking forward to new responsibilities and the higher salary underwritten by North Dakota’s sudden oil boom. But Bakken County has its own issues. For one thing, it’s cold—a whole lot colder than the coldest weather Cassie’s ever imagined. For another, the job she turns out to have been hired for—leading an investigation her new boss doesn’t feel he can entrust to his own force—makes her queasy. The biggest problem, though, is one she doesn’t know about until it slaps her in the face. A fatal car accident that was anything but accidental has jarred loose a stash of methamphetamines and cash that’s become the center of a battle between the Sons of Freedom, Bakken County’s traditional drug sellers, and MS-13, the Salvadorian upstarts who are muscling in on their territory. It’s a setup that leaves scant room for law enforcement officers or for Kyle Westergaard, the 12-year-old paperboy damaged since birth by fetal alcohol syndrome, who’s walked away from the wreck with a prize all too many people would kill for.

A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be welcome to return and tie up the gaping loose end Box leaves. The unrelenting cold makes this the perfect beach read.

Pub Date: July 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-58321-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: April 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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