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Phoenix From The Flame

From the The Haszard Narratives series , Vol. 3

A standard mystery, boosted by an entertaining quasi-detective and his unorthodox ways.

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In this entry of Hatt’s (No Reason for Insanity, 2015, etc.) thriller series, Haszard searches for a dead man whose widow is sure she’s spotted him alive and well.

Haszard makes his living working at a hospital and running his own framing shop. But his time as an amateur sleuth, often done as favors, is what puts him in danger. When friend and former co-worker Alice Kirby sees her late husband, Graham, in a crowd, she goes to known puzzle-solver Haszard for answers. Graham died in a pileup less than a year prior, his charred body not easily identifiable. Only one of two DNA tests confirmed it was Graham, while the other showed a discrepancy. Haszard talks to a number of Graham’s associates and soon suspects that the man’s death was a sham, likely somehow connected to his involvement in something nefarious. What that illicit deed (or deeds) is, Haszard doesn’t immediately know. But he’s clearly making someone nervous, as one person he intends to interview turns up dead, followed by the protagonist scuffling with a mysterious figure—possibly the murderer. With assistance from his girlfriend, Sabrina, her baby sister, Adelaide, and other cohorts, Haszard delves into an unsolved, possibly relevant robbery, dabbles in a little breaking and entering, takes on another case, and even stumbles upon a second body. The author’s third outing with his mononymous (to readers, at least) hero features a bevy of characters entangled in the case, be they Haszard’s aides or suspects. It’s occasionally overwhelming, with Haszard rarely interrogating people or breaking into flats without two or more tagging along, including pal Grace and master of disguise Millie. Hatt, however, well incorporates Haszard’s extra case: Samantha Cole wants to know how an apparent drowning victim is still alive. It’s much better than subplots in preceding series entries, ultimately inciting a breakthrough in the Alice case, in which Sam lends a helping hand. The protagonist debating whether or not to vocalize the L-word with Sabrina is both endearing and funny. But the most amusing bits entail Haszard’s conspicuous discomfort around children, lifting Alice’s 3-year-old son based on “a right and wrong way of picking dogs up.”

A standard mystery, boosted by an entertaining quasi-detective and his unorthodox ways.

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4961-2835-5

Page Count: 386

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2016

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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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Irritatingly trite woman-in-periler from lawyer-turned-novelist Baldacci. Moving away from the White House and the white-shoe Washington law firms of his previous bestsellers (Absolute Power, 1996; Total Control, 1997), Baldacci comes up with LuAnn Tyler, a spunky, impossibly beautiful, white-trash truck stop waitress with a no-good husband and a terminally cute infant daughter in tow. Some months after the birth of Lisa, LuAnn gets a phone call summoning her to a make-shift office in an unrented storefront of the local shopping mall. There, she gets a Faustian offer from a Mr. Jackson, a monomaniacal, cross-dressing manipulator who apparently knows the winning numbers in the national lottery before the numbers are drawn. It seems that LuAnn fits the media profile of what a lottery winner should be—poor, undereducated but proud—and if she's willing to buy the right ticket at the right time and transfer most of her winnings to Jackson, she'll be able to retire in luxury. Jackson fails to inform her, however, that if she refuses his offer, he'll have her killed. Before that can happen, as luck would have it, LuAnn barely escapes death when one of husband Duane's drug deals goes bad. She hops on a first-class Amtrak sleeper to Manhattan with a hired executioner in pursuit. But executioner Charlie, one of Jackson's paid handlers, can't help but hear wedding bells when he sees LuAnn cooing with her daughter. Alas, a winning $100- million lottery drawing complicates things. Jackson spirits LuAnn and Lisa away to Sweden, with Charlie in pursuit. Never fear. Not only will LuAnn escape a series of increasingly violent predicaments, but she'll also outwit Jackson, pay an enormous tax bill to the IRS, and have enough left over to honeymoon in Switzerland. Too preposterous to work as feminine wish-fulfillment, too formulaic to be suspenseful. (Book-of-the-Month Club main selection)

Pub Date: Dec. 2, 1997

ISBN: 0-446-52259-7

Page Count: 528

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1997

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