by Kirk Russell ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 1, 2005
Russell tackles both action sequences and intractable moral problems with prose as sharp and efficient as a filleting knife.
The latest challenge for California Fish & Game Warden John Marquez is a group of poachers who kill sturgeon for caviar and aren’t too solicitous about higher species either.
Fish & Game’s Special Operations Unit is on the ropes. Tax-averse California citizens have cut their budget repeatedly, slashing the number of agents from ten to five to three, even though the bad guys are just as active and inventive as ever. Marquez (Night Game, 2004, etc.) and his wardens hope to turn sturgeon poacher Abe Raburn against former KGB agent Nikolai Ludovna, who came to the U.S. to move real estate and black-market caviar. But Raburn is so terrified of Ludovna that he’s not much help. Russian-born field guide Anna Burdovsky has agreed to do some snooping on Marquez’s behalf. When she disappears from a rendezvous with Don August, whose specialty-food stores may be selling illegal caviar, signs point to foul play. Marquez’s boss is getting put out to pasture, and his home life doesn’t look so great either: He and his wife Katherine are too obsessed with their jobs to make much of a home for Katherine’s daughter Maria, who’s visiting East Coast colleges without the slightest intention of attending any of them. Although the tale and its people may all seem familiar, Russell brings some formidable skills to bear: an exquisite eye for a hundred shades of gray among the poachers, traffickers, buyers and informants along the food chain, and a passion for every corner of the wilderness they’re bent on exploiting into oblivion. And not just them, but the populace at large. As Marquez reflects: “The debate wasn’t so much about how to live in balance with nature, but whether it was worth the effort.”Russell tackles both action sequences and intractable moral problems with prose as sharp and efficient as a filleting knife.
Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2005
Page Count: 320
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2005
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by Kathy Reichs ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 17, 2020
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
Page Count: 352
Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020
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by C.J. Box ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 28, 2015
A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be...
Box takes another break from his highly successful Joe Pickett series (Stone Cold, 2014, etc.) for a stand-alone about a police detective, a developmentally delayed boy, and a package everyone in North Dakota wants to grab.
Cassandra Dewell can’t leave Montana’s Lewis and Clark County fast enough for her new job as chief investigator for Jon Kirkbride, sheriff of Bakken County. She leaves behind no memories worth keeping: her husband is dead, her boss has made no bones about disliking her, and she’s looking forward to new responsibilities and the higher salary underwritten by North Dakota’s sudden oil boom. But Bakken County has its own issues. For one thing, it’s cold—a whole lot colder than the coldest weather Cassie’s ever imagined. For another, the job she turns out to have been hired for—leading an investigation her new boss doesn’t feel he can entrust to his own force—makes her queasy. The biggest problem, though, is one she doesn’t know about until it slaps her in the face. A fatal car accident that was anything but accidental has jarred loose a stash of methamphetamines and cash that’s become the center of a battle between the Sons of Freedom, Bakken County’s traditional drug sellers, and MS-13, the Salvadorian upstarts who are muscling in on their territory. It’s a setup that leaves scant room for law enforcement officers or for Kyle Westergaard, the 12-year-old paperboy damaged since birth by fetal alcohol syndrome, who’s walked away from the wreck with a prize all too many people would kill for.A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be welcome to return and tie up the gaping loose end Box leaves. The unrelenting cold makes this the perfect beach read.
Pub Date: July 28, 2015
Page Count: 272
Review Posted Online: April 21, 2015
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015
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