Vivid characters populate a measured but engrossing detective story.


From the Bertrand McAbee Mystery series , Vol. 11

In this 11th installment of a mystery series, a private eye looks into a possible murder that may be linked to a drowning from nearly a half century ago.

Psychiatrist Dr. Linda Rhine is convinced her patient and friend Cynthia Power did not commit suicide. As cops refuse to investigate Cynthia’s death as a homicide, Rhine seeks help from another patient, Augusta Satin, an ex-detective who works with Davenport, Iowa, private investigator Bertrand McAbee. Cynthia had belonged to the Demosthenes Club in high school back in the 1960s. She’d recently been writing a book on the club, as its members have gone on to high-profile careers. But it seems one inebriated member, Illinois Congressman Corey Bladel, let slip something regarding Anne Podreski, the club member who died in a drowning accident before the group’s high school graduation. Certainly Francine Korbel, the retired chief economist for an agribusiness company, feared what Bladel had relayed to Cynthia. But was it enough for her or someone else to murder Cynthia? McAbee interviews club members and also delves into the dead woman’s past; in 1995, while Cynthia was living in Sarajevo, an unidentified shooter killed her lover, Toma Korpanja. Someone in the present day is apparently nervous and targets McAbee and his associates, including hacker Barry Fisk and former covert government man Jack Scholz. As in the preceding installment, McCaffrey’s (A Went Over Case, 2016, etc.) story boasts an unhurried pace. McAbee and his cohorts often walk away from interviews with no revelations or new pieces of evidence, generating a slow-burning mystery. Nevertheless, the author’s characters are striking, particularly suspects like Korbel, who’s rather shady without readers even knowing whether or not she’s a killer. Similarly, the good guys are sharp and flawed; McAbee’s secretary, Pat Trump, hates Fisk so much she threatens to quit, and the conflicted PI occasionally benefits from Scholz’s “violent tactics.” The final act ignites the narrative’s momentum with a solid plot turn and a satisfying wrap-up, in terms of both the murder and McAbee’s team.

Vivid characters populate a measured but engrossing detective story.

Pub Date: June 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5462-4749-4

Page Count: 344

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

Did you like this book?