Though Smith conscientiously provides a good deal of back story explaining what’s at stake for the hero and his family, this...


Smith, hot in contention for whatever award is given for the multivolume mystery series that sounds more and more like installments in a single endless story, puts his hero, San Francisco attorney Leo Maxwell, through a fifth round in the wringer.

Just because Leo’s client Bo Wilder, a homicidal gang leader, is serving a life sentence doesn’t mean he can’t still wreak havoc on Leo and his family, as he does when he arranges for Jack Sims, an underling with a serious appetite for more power, to snatch Carly, the daughter of Leo’s brain-damaged brother, Teddy, from a baseball game and smilingly return her a few minutes later. It’s instantly clear that Wilder wants something from Leo—in this case, his legal services on behalf of the Jane Doe several witnesses saw shoot Aryan Brotherhood stalwart Randolph Edwards on a Tenderloin street—but Leo realizes only gradually that he and Teddy and their father, Lawrence, whose fraught encounters with every side of the law have already put his sons permanently on their toes, have, without doing anything new, stepped into the middle of a war whose participants range from the Aryan Brotherhood to the FBI. Since Smith has already shown that he’s not shy about killing off Leo’s nearest and dearest (Panther’s Prey, 2016, etc.), Leo can only oscillate between preparing his impossible defense of Alice Ward, whose mother was murdered a week after a 1999 restaurant robbery that probably involved her neighbors Sims and Edwards as well, and savoring the irony of the Brotherhood paying for the defense of an African-American accused of murdering one of their number, all while he waits to get the next telephone call informing him that it’s time to call the mortician he must keep on speed dial.

Though Smith conscientiously provides a good deal of back story explaining what’s at stake for the hero and his family, this series is getting harder and harder to plunge into the middle of. Fans are advised to start from the beginning (Bear Is Broken, 2013) and take it from there.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8021-2707-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Mysterious Press

Review Posted Online: July 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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Greed, love, and extrasensory abilities combine in two middling mysteries.


Coulter’s treasured FBI agents take on two cases marked by danger and personal involvement.

Dillon Savitch and his wife, Lacey Sherlock, have special abilities that have served them well in law enforcement (Paradox, 2018, etc.). But that doesn't prevent Sherlock’s car from hitting a running man after having been struck by a speeding SUV that runs a red light. The runner, though clearly injured, continues on his way and disappears. Not so the SUV driver, a security engineer for the Bexholt Group, which has ties to government agencies. Sherlock’s own concussion causes memory loss so severe that she doesn’t recognize Savitch or remember their son, Sean. The whole incident seems more suspicious when a blood test from the splatter of the man Sherlock hit reveals that he’s Justice Cummings, an analyst for the CIA. The agency’s refusal to cooperate makes Savitch certain that Bexholt is involved in a deep-laid plot. Meanwhile, Special Agent Griffin Hammersmith is visiting friends who run a cafe in the touristy Virginia town of Gaffers Ridge. Hammersmith, who has psychic abilities, is taken aback when he hears in his mind a woman’s cry for help. Reporter Carson DeSilva, who came to the area to interview a Nobel Prize winner, also has psychic abilities, and she overhears the thoughts of Rafer Bodine, a young man who has apparently kidnapped and possibly murdered three teenage girls. Unluckily, she blurts out her thoughts, and she’s snatched and tied up in a cellar by Bodine. Bodine may be a killer, but he’s also the nephew of the sheriff and the son of the local bigwig. So the sheriff arrests Hammersmith and refuses to accept his FBI credentials. Bodine's mother has psychic powers strong enough to kill, but she meets her match in Hammersmith, DeSilva, Savitch, and Sherlock.

Greed, love, and extrasensory abilities combine in two middling mysteries.

Pub Date: July 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-9365-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

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A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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