Familiar genre traits coupled with innovative touches make this an exceptional novel and a worthy series opener.

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A LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS

A HASZARD NARRATIVE

An Englishman looking into a friend’s murder stumbles upon drug deals and dealers, putting himself and others in peril in Hatt’s debut thriller, the first in a series.

Anesthetic and recovery practitioner Haszard (he prefers not using his first name, which is never given) hears of a murder near the hospital where he works. The victim was Pauline Vickers, a nurse and Haszard’s acquaintance; they also had a one-night stand. Now Haszard is determined to find her killer. But questioning associates uncovers more questions: He’d never known Pauline to do drugs, yet he learns she was a cocaine user with a sizable stash and was telling others of a possible shipment. Haszard’s investigation, with help from his new love interest, Sabrina, and Pauline’s boyfriend, Ed, leads to more bodies, a hodgepodge of suspects—including the hospital’s chief of security, who warns him to stop with the gumshoe routine—and someone shooting at Haszard. At its core, Hatt’s novel is a typical detective story, but the atypical investigation from a nondetective gives it a refreshing vibe. Thriller fans will recognize many elements—the mysterious villain, a drug dealer known only as “The Ghost” who’s supplying people with a high-grade cocaine, and Haszard’s gradual distrust of others, even those who’re helping him. But the story has just as many unusual characteristics: This “detective” has a strange predilection for snakes and fears running into his ex, Debbie, or her equally intense friend, Harriet, just as much as the murderer. He stakes out a suspect’s home, only to be bored for a couple of uneventful evenings. Some of Haszard’s interrogations become repetitive, though, since the info he picks up is much of the same: Many inform him of Pauline’s drug habit or her surprising affiliation with prostitutes. But, with consistent reminders of the ongoing case, Hatt steers his story clear of any lulls, even when Haszard is spending his time entangled in his new romance with Sabrina. Hatt also excels at generating suspense, as in a scene in which Haszard, Ed and Ed’s cohorts chase a man into an old building with dilapidated, unstable floors.

Familiar genre traits coupled with innovative touches make this an exceptional novel and a worthy series opener.

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2013

ISBN: 978-1490363486

Page Count: 396

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2014

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Great storytelling, a quirky hero, and a quirkier plot make this a winner for adventure fans.

CROOKED RIVER

FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast finds evil afoot in his latest action-filled adventure (Verses for the Dead, 2018, etc.).

Imagine Florida beachcombers’ shock when they discover a shoe with a severed foot inside. Soon they see dozens more feet, all in identical shoes, bobbing toward the beach. Police and FBI ultimately count more than a hundred of them washing up on Sanibel and Captiva Islands' tranquil shores. Pendergast teams up with the junior Special Agent Armstrong Coldmoon to investigate this strange phenomenon. Oceanographers use a supercomputer to analyze Gulf currents and attempt to determine where the feet entered the ocean. Were they dumped off a ship or an island? Does each one represent a homicide? Analysts examine chemical residues and pollen, even the angle of each foot’s amputation, but the puzzle defies all explanation. Attention focuses on Cuba, where “something terrible was happening” in front of a coastal prison, and on China, the apparent source of the shoes. The clever plot is “a most baffling case indeed” for the brilliant Pendergast, but it’s the type of problem he thrives on. He’s hardly a stereotypical FBI agent, given for example his lemon-colored silk suit, his Panama hat, and his legendary insistence on working alone—until now. Pendergast rarely blinks—perhaps, someone surmises, he’s part reptile. But equally odd is Constance Greene, his “extraordinarily beautiful,” smart, and sarcastic young “ward” who has “eyes that had seen everything and, as a result, were surprised by nothing.” Coldmoon is more down to earth: part Lakota, part Italian, and “every inch a Fed.” Add in murderous drug dealers, an intrepid newspaper reporter, coyotes crossing the U.S.–Mexico border, and a pissed-off wannabe graphic novelist, and you have a thoroughly entertaining cast of characters. There is plenty of suspense, and the action gets bloody.

Great storytelling, a quirky hero, and a quirkier plot make this a winner for adventure fans.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4725-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how...

THE A LIST

A convicted killer’s list of five people he wants dead runs the gamut from the wife he’s already had murdered to franchise heroine Ali Reynolds.

Back in the day, women came from all over to consult Santa Clarita fertility specialist Dr. Edward Gilchrist. Many of them left his care happily pregnant, never dreaming that the father of the babies they carried was none other than the physician himself, who donated his own sperm rather than that of the handsome, athletic, disease-free men pictured in his scrapbook. When Alexandra Munsey’s son, Evan, is laid low by the kidney disease he’s inherited from his biological father and she returns to Gilchrist in search of the donor’s medical records, the roof begins to fall in on him. By the time it’s done falling, he’s serving a life sentence in Folsom Prison for commissioning the death of his wife, Dawn, the former nurse and sometime egg donor who’d turned on him. With nothing left to lose, Gilchrist tattoos himself with the initials of five people he blames for his fall: Dawn; Leo Manuel Aurelio, the hit man he’d hired to dispose of her; Kaitlyn Todd, the nurse/receptionist who took Dawn’s place; Alex Munsey, whose search for records upset his apple cart; and Ali Reynolds, the TV reporter who’d helped put Alex in touch with the dozen other women who formed the Progeny Project because their children looked just like hers. No matter that Ali’s been out of both California and the news business for years; Gilchrist and his enablers know that revenge can’t possibly be served too cold. Wonder how far down that list they’ll get before Ali, aided once more by Frigg, the methodical but loose-cannon AI first introduced in Duel to the Death (2018), turns on them?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how little the boundary-challenged AI, who gets into the case more or less inadvertently, differs from your standard human sidekick with issues.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5101-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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