The third co-starring vehicle for Poe and the detective he created is a juicy gothic potboiler.

EDGAR ALLAN POE AND THE EMPIRE OF THE DEAD

What nemesis has tricked the noted American author into coming to Paris, and why?

An urgent request from his friend C. Auguste Dupin brings Edgar Allan Poe to Paris in June 1849 to help him unravel another mystery, this one very personal. Dupin, the Parisian detective in the real-life Poe's “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” dreads the reemergence of his nemesis, Ernest Valdemar, the man who destroyed his family decades ago. Poe, who narrates in typically florid style, is mourning the death of his beloved wife, Sissy, and his two-week crossing from Philadelphia to Le Havre is bathed in melancholy. When he arrives, there’s another surprise. Dupin didn’t write the letter that brought him; who did? And why did they want Poe in Paris? The plot unfolds in a series of juicy set pieces. Touching a carved owl reveals a dark passage behind a bookcase. Dupin believes, against any scientific proof and the opinion of his physician, Dr. Froissart, that an elixir he takes in small doses may be slowly killing him. Froissart is consumed with another crime as dastardly as it is convoluted. Years ago, a boy was kidnapped and has now grown into manhood. The Grand Duke of Gerolstein is investigating this matter; coincidentally (or perhaps not), Poe interacted with the grand duke and his friend Herr Durand on his trans-Atlantic crossing. Dupin fears that both the grand duke and the young man are in danger. But from whom? The duo’s search takes them to the catacombs, the Grand Guignol, and a bizarre puppet theater.

The third co-starring vehicle for Poe and the detective he created is a juicy gothic potboiler.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64313-422-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pegasus Crime

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Perhaps A-list screenwriters will be able to spin TV gold from this sketchy treatment.

THE LIONESS

An actress and her entourage are kidnapped by Russians in Bohjalian’s uneven thriller.

In 1964, Hollywood’s gossip rags are agog as movie star Katie Barstow marries gallerist David Hill and takes her inner circle along on her honeymoon. And an adventuresome honeymoon it is—on safari in the Serengeti with aging big-game hunter Charlie Patton, who once helped Hemingway bag trophies. But Katie is not the star of this ensemble piece. The populous cast—a who’s who at the beginning is indispensable—includes Katie’s publicist, Reggie Stout; her agent, Peter Merrick; her best friend, Carmen Tedesco, a supporting actress who plays wisecracking sidekicks; and Terrance Dutton, Katie's recent co-star, a Black actor who's challenging Sidney Poitier's singularity in Hollywood. With obvious nods to Hemingway’s worst fear—masculine cowardice—Bohjalian adds in Felix Demeter, Carmen’s husband, a B-list screenwriter who reminds his wife of Hemingway’s weakling Francis Macomber. Felix seems a superfluous double of David, who feels inadequate because Katie is the breadwinner and his father is CIA. Then there’s Katie’s older brother, Billy Stepanov, whose abuse at the hands of their mother shaped the psychologist he is today; Billy’s pregnant wife, Margie; and Benjamin Kikwete, an apprentice safari guide. Thus, a proliferation of voices whose competing perspectives fragment rather than advance the story. The kidnapping plot seems less designed to test each character’s mettle than to exercise Bohjalian’s predilection for minute descriptions of gore. The most heartfelt portrayal here is of the Serengeti and its flora and fauna, but none of the human characters net enough face time to transcend their typecasting. The motives behind the kidnapping might have lent intrigue to the proceedings, but foreshadowing is so slight that the infodump explainer at the end leaves us shocked, mostly at how haphazard the plot is.

Perhaps A-list screenwriters will be able to spin TV gold from this sketchy treatment.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-385-54482-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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Generations may succeed generations, but Sandford’s patented investigation/action formula hasn’t aged a whit. Bring it on.

THE INVESTIGATOR

A domestic-terrorist plot gives the adopted daughter of storied U.S. Marshal Lucas Davenport her moment to shine.

Veteran oilman Vermilion Wright knows that losing a few thousand gallons of crude is no more than an accounting error to his company but could mean serious money to whomever’s found a way to siphon it off from wells in Texas’ Permian Basin. So he asks Sen. Christopher Colles, Chair of Homeland Security and Government Affairs, to look into it, and Colles persuades 24-year-old Letty Davenport, who’s just quit his employ, to return and partner with Department of Homeland Security agent John Kaiser to track down the thieves. The plot that right-winger Jane Jael Hawkes and her confederates, most of them service veterans with disgruntled attitudes and excellent military skills, have hatched is more dire than anything Wright could have imagined. They plan to use the proceeds from the oil thefts to purchase some black-market C4 essential to a major act of terrorism that will simultaneously express their alarm about the country’s hospitality to illegal immigrants and put the Jael-Birds on the map for good. But they haven’t reckoned with Letty, another kid born on the wrong side of the tracks who can outshoot the men she’s paired with and outthink the vigilantes she finds herself facing—and who, along with her adoptive father, makes a memorable pair of “pragmatists. Really harsh pragmatists” willing to do whatever needs doing without batting an eye or losing a night’s sleep afterward.

Generations may succeed generations, but Sandford’s patented investigation/action formula hasn’t aged a whit. Bring it on.

Pub Date: April 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-32868-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2022

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