The secret is out; a teenage sleuth makes a welcome debut on the crime scene.

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In this mystery, an aunt’s deathbed confession compels a high schooler to turn up the heat on a cold case.

Officer Donnie Ray Carr, 26, disappeared without a trace in 1943. Eight years later, “barely seventeen” Gracie Dawson receives shocking news at her Aunt Clara’s hospital deathbed. First, she is told she has a heretofore undisclosed cousin, a little boy. Second, someone named William killed Carr. As to the former, Clara begs, “Find my little boy, Gracie.” As to the latter, all Clara will cryptically say is “Norton Train Station, September 1943.” Gracie’s father happens to be named William; he cheated on her mother, leading to a nasty divorce. But Clara has left everything to Gracie, including her “stupefying secrets,” and so the teen is determined to do right by her. With the help of her boyfriend, Obie Sayer, whose father is the local police chief and who hopes to assume that role someday, she turns amateur sleuth. She visits the Norton Train Station, where Gracie learns somebody left an infant in 1943. Clara is identified as the mother. But who is the father? And is the baby’s paternity connected to Carr’s disappearance? Gracie and Obie’s “after-death meddling” yields a hidden suitcase that contains a birth certificate identifying the illegitimate boy’s father: William Avery Dollarhide, a state senator who’s on “top of the heap” as part of the local foundry empire. McCall reveals this early on, which may frustrate armchair detectives. But this well-written small-town noir is a brisk read that should captivate both YA readers for its plucky teenage hero as well as adults with a penchant for crime stories that revolve around shadowy figures in high places. In this series opener, Gracie is a believable and empathetic character. She is much like Teresa Wright in Alfred Hitchcock’s film Shadow of a Doubt,who discovers, as Gracie puts it, “there’s such a wideness to the world.” Gracie is in over her head but in thrall to the thrill of having been entrusted with her aunt’s confession: “Of course, I don’t really know anything but the idea gives me goosebumps all the same.”

The secret is out; a teenage sleuth makes a welcome debut on the crime scene.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-73755-530-8

Page Count: 158

Publisher: JJ Publishers, LLC

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2022


A book begging to be read on the beach, with the sun warming the sand and salt in the air: pure escapism.

Three woman who join together to rent a large space along the beach in Los Angeles for their stores—a gift shop, a bakery, and a bookstore—become fast friends as they each experience the highs, and lows, of love.

Bree is a friendly but standoffish bookstore owner who keeps everyone she knows at arm’s length, from guys she meets in bars to her friends. Mikki is a settled-in-her-routines divorced mother of two, happily a mom, gift-shop owner, and co-parent with her ex-husband, Perry. And Ashley is a young, very-much-in-love bakery owner specializing in muffins who devotes herself to giving back to the community through a nonprofit that helps community members develop skills and find jobs. When the women meet drooling over a boardwalk storefront that none of them can afford on her own, a plan is hatched to divide the space in three, and a friendship—and business partnership—is born. An impromptu celebration on the beach at sunset with champagne becomes a weekly touchpoint to their lives as they learn more about each other and themselves. Their friendship blossoms as they help each other, offering support, hard truths, and loving backup. Author Mallery has created a delightful story of friendship between three women that also offers a variety of love stories as they fall in love, make mistakes, and figure out how to be the best—albeit still flawed—versions of themselves. The men are similarly flawed and human. While the story comes down clearly on the side of all-encompassing love, Mallery has struck a careful balance: There is just enough sex to be spicy, just enough swearing to be naughty, and just enough heartbreak to avoid being cloying.

A book begging to be read on the beach, with the sun warming the sand and salt in the air: pure escapism.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-778-38608-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022


Fascinating main characters and a clever plot add up to an exciting read.

A thriller with bloody murders and plenty of suspects and featuring an unlikely partnership between two FBI investigators.

FBI consultant Amos Decker has a lot on his mind. The huge fellow once played for the Cleveland Browns in the NFL until he received a catastrophic brain injury, leaving him with synesthesia; he sees death as electric blue. More pertinent to the plot, he also has hyperthymesia, or spontaneous and highly accurate recall. On the one hand, his memories can be horrible. He’d once come home to find his wife and daughter murdered, dead in pools of blood. Later, he listens helplessly on the telephone while his ex-partner shoots herself in the mouth. On the other hand, his memory helps him solve every case he's given. Now he's sent to Florida with a brand-new partner, Special Agent Frederica White, to investigate the murder of a federal judge. Both partners are pissed at their last-minute pairing, and they immediately see themselves as a bad fit. White is a diminutive Black single mother of two who has a double black belt in karate “because I hate getting my ass kicked.” (The author doesn't mention Decker's race, but since he's being contrasted with his new partner in every way, perhaps readers are expected to see him as White. Clarity would be nice.) Their case is strange: Judge Julia Cummins was stabbed 10 times and her face covered with a mask, while her bodyguard was shot to death. Decker and White puzzle over the “very contrarian crime scene” where two murders seem to have been committed by two different people in the same place. The plot gets complex, with suspects galore. But the interpersonal dynamic between Decker and White is just as interesting as the solution to the murders, which doesn't come easily. At first, they’d like to be done with each other and go their separate ways. But as they work together, their mutual respect rises and—alas—the tension between them fades almost completely. The pair will make a great series duo, especially if a bit of that initial tension between them returns. And Baldacci shouldn’t give Decker a pass on his tortured memories, because readers enjoy suffering heroes. It's not enough that his near-perfect recall helps him in his job.

Fascinating main characters and a clever plot add up to an exciting read.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5387-1982-4

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2022

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