An eco-conscious crime story with plenty of action and intrigue.

MONEY BEAR

A park ranger and an intrepid sleuth investigate the slaughter of San Francisco Bay Area black bears in Cox’s debut novel.

Los Angeles–based U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service detective Nick Tanner has a reputation for busting people who traffic in illegal international contraband, such as ivory tusks. A new series of slayings by poachers sends him and his pet bobcat, Ray Charles, to Northern California. There, the bodies of wild bears, found shot in the back with arrows, are strewn among the redwoods of state parks; their gallbladders and paws are in high demand for traditional Chinese medicines. The killings also attract the attention of park ranger Kathleen Shepherd, who once killed a chainsaw-wielding mountain man in self-defense and is no stranger to the land she fiercely protects. Shepherd and Tanner’s sleuthing throws a wrench in a plan hatched by a greedy group of Southern Californians hoping to hit pay dirt by procuring the ingredients needed to produce a reputedly miraculous medicine known as Xi Jiao. Cox adds a number of subplots, including ones that focus on a wheelchair-bound marijuana farmer and Army veteran with a missing husband; and a well-meaning if intrusive local RV park resident named Toad. There’s also an assortment of bad guys who violently try to terminate Shepherd and Tanner’s investigation. Overall, Cox shows an uncanny talent for characterization; Tanner’s history, for example, includes responsibly and lovingly co-parenting a daughter with an ex-wife who’s just recently become engaged to be married again—much to the park ranger’s surprise. The author also effectively keeps up the story’s momentum as it speeds to a rousing conclusion. Further adding to the allure of this impressively complex crime drama is how Cox imparts the engaging history of California redwood–preservation efforts after massive clear-cutting in the late 19th century.

An eco-conscious crime story with plenty of action and intrigue.

Pub Date: Feb. 22, 2021

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 321

Publisher: Level Best Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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Crave chills and thrills but don’t have time for a King epic? This will do the job before bedtime. Not that you’ll sleep.

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LATER

Horrormeister King follows a boy’s journey from childhood to adolescence among the dead—and their even creepier living counterparts.

Jamie Conklin sees dead people. Not for very long—they fade away after a week or so—but during that time he can talk to them, ask them questions, and compel them to answer truthfully. His uncanny gift at first seems utterly unrelated to his mother Tia’s work as a literary agent, but the links become disturbingly clear when her star client, Regis Thomas, dies shortly after starting work on the newest entry in his bestselling Roanoke Saga, and Tia and her lover, NYPD Detective Liz Dutton, drive Jamie out to Cobblestone Cottage to encourage the late author to dictate an outline of his latest page-turner so that Tia, who’s fallen on hard times, can write it in his name instead of returning his advance and her cut. Now that she’s seen what Jamie can do, Liz takes it on herself to arrange an interview in which Jamie will ask Kenneth Therriault, a serial bomber who’s just killed himself, where he’s stowed his latest explosive device before it can explode posthumously. His post-mortem encounter with Therriault exacts a high price on Jamie, who now finds himself more haunted than ever, though he never gives up on the everyday experiences in which King roots all his nightmares.

Crave chills and thrills but don’t have time for a King epic? This will do the job before bedtime. Not that you’ll sleep.

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7890-9649-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Hard Case Crime

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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Densely plotted and replete with incident if you can overlook the insufferable narrator.

WIN

Memo to fans who’ve longed for Windsor Horne Lockwood III, the moneyed, omnicompetent buddy of sports agent Myron Bolitar, to snag a starring role of his own: Beware what you wish for.

Nothing would connect privileged Win with the murder of the reclusive tenant of an exclusive Upper West Side building if the police hadn’t found a painting inside Ry Strauss’ apartment—a Vermeer belonging to Win’s family that was stolen long ago while on loan to Haverford College—along with a monogrammed suitcase belonging to Win himself. The two discoveries tie Win not only to the murder, but to the Jane Street Six, a group of student activists Strauss led even longer ago. The Six’s most notoriously subversive action, the bombing of an empty building in 1973, left several innocents accidentally dead and the law determined to track down the perps. But except for Vanessa Hogan, whom Billy Rowan tearfully visited soon after the bombing to beg her forgiveness for his role in bringing about the death of her son, no one’s seen hide nor hair of the Six ever since. The roots of the outrage go even deeper for Win, whose uncle, Aldrich Powers Lockwood, was killed and whose cousin, Patricia, to whom he’d given that suitcase, was one of 10 women kidnapped, imprisoned, and raped in an unsolved crime. These meaty complications are duly unfolded, and gobs of cash thrown at them, by the ludicrously preening, self-infatuated Win, who announces, “It’s good to be me,” and “I can be charming when I want to be.” As if.

Densely plotted and replete with incident if you can overlook the insufferable narrator.

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4821-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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