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HOLLIS AND GRAY

A riveting mystery, cleverly and tenderly plotted.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
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In Zeigler’s novel, when a private detective is shot and falls into a coma, his partner discovers that he was investigating the death of her parents.

When Frank Hollis first sees Serafina Gray working as a cocktail waitress at Planet Janet, a strip club in Detroit, his attraction to her isn’t sexual, though she “looked like a Brazilian model straight out of a Victoria’s Secret catalog.” His interest in her is more protective. He wants to rescue this lost woman, who grew up in foster care, from a life of lonely despair, but he also wants a measure of love, however small, in his own lonesome life. The author affectingly describes the mix of emotions: “He’d always expected to die alone, after pushing everyone he’d ever loved away. Now he had someone to love, and he was still going to die alone. This was how it was going to end.” He offers her a job working at his detective agency, and she accepts—and a relationship both professional and familial develops between them. She’s horrified and confused when Hollis is suddenly shot and falls into a coma. The shooting looks like it might be the work of a gang, but that isn’t a world Hollis typically inhabits; he prefers the well-paying work of corporate intrigue to criminal investigation. Serafina discovers that, when he was shot, Hollis was looking into the death of her own parents, shopkeepers who were murdered when she was only 4 years old. Zeigler combines, with impressive artistry, a hard-boiled detective story with a nuanced tale of love amid the ruins of sad solitude. The only defects of the novel are its length and pace—the author could have easily trimmed 100 pages from this somewhat bloated work, which has a tendency to move at a languorous amble. Despite this not inconsiderable flaw, this is an enthralling story, brimming with heart-aching drama and psychological nuance.

A riveting mystery, cleverly and tenderly plotted.

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2024

ISBN: 978-1962983051

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2024

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A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

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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THE BURNING

A brutal, gripping look at murder in a self-enclosed community with many secrets to hide.

When two police officers stop for a bit of dalliance, screams from the nearby woods introduce them to a puzzling and horrifying murder.

Chuck Skidmore and Mona Kurtz don’t arrive in time to rescue a man who’s being burned at the stake, a sight that will haunt their dreams. Police Chief Kate Burkholder arrives on the scene with her husband, John Tomasetti, an agent of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, who’ll join her and many other cops in a task force investigating the bizarre murder. Born Amish, Kate ran away from Painters Mill, found her vocation in law enforcement, and eventually came home as the police department’s chief. Over the years, she’s built up some trust with the local Amish community, who generally prefer to keep their problems to themselves. The victim is Milan Swanz, a troubled former schoolmate of Kate’s whom she’s arrested several times. A divorced man with four children, he’d been recently excommunicated by the Amish. Although Milan was far from popular, Kate meets a wall of silence from even her own brother, one of many people who had disputes with the hot-tempered man. Kate’s theory of the crime, based on stories in a book popular with the Amish, is so bizarre that she has trouble believing it herself. When her brother is arrested, she’s removed from the task force but continues to investigate, putting her in the sights of some very determined killers.

A brutal, gripping look at murder in a self-enclosed community with many secrets to hide.

Pub Date: July 9, 2024

ISBN: 9781250781116

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2024

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