A sharp, pitch-black thriller that takes the mean-girls trope to another level.


A woman’s dark past resurfaces at her 10-year college reunion in Flynn’s adult debut.

Thirty-one-year-old Ambrosia Wellington’s job as a PR flack for a Manhattan firm isn’t the acting career she had aspired to when she started her freshman year at Wesleyan University. But she’s married to genuine nice guy Adrian, who adores her. When her comfortable, if not quite perfect, life is disrupted with emails from Wesleyan’s alumni committee announcing the upcoming reunion, she ignores them, but then she gets an anonymous message that changes everything: “You need to come. We need to talk about what we did that night.”Nearly 14 years ago, Amb couldn’t wait to leave her working-class New Jersey roots behind when she arrived at Wesleyan. Her roommate, Flora, was exactly the type of “freshly scrubbed,” saccharine-sweet “try-hard” that she despised, so when she met the magnetic and deviously cruel Sloane Sullivan, Amb finally felt like she belonged, but Sully’s price of admission was steep. Riding a wave of booze, cocaine, and ceaseless casual, drunken hookups was damaging enough, but it’s her relentless pursuit of Flora’s Dartmouth boyfriend that leads to catastrophe. Now, at the reunion, Amb must face her past and put it to rest, all while preventing Adrian from finding out about that terrible year. Sully has also received threatening messages, and Amb is wary of trusting her, but the devil she knows might be her only choice. One thing is clear: A reckoning is inevitable, and it won’t be pretty. Watching the deeply insecure Ambrosia morph into the toxic Sully’s broken acolyte is like paying witness to a slow-motion train wreck. It’s hard to sympathize with Amb, but her self-aware narration, which alternates between past and present, illustrates how a vulnerable psyche can be twisted into something exceedingly ugly. The ever rising tide of dread will keep readers hooked even when they realize that a happy ending may not be in the cards.

A sharp, pitch-black thriller that takes the mean-girls trope to another level.

Pub Date: March 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982144-62-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Enjoyable storytelling by two masters of the craft.


Lindsay Boxer faces a ton of trouble in the latest entry in Patterson and Paetro’s Women’s Murder Club series.

Senior crime reporter Cindy Thomas is writing a biography of Evan Burke, a notorious serial killer who sits in solitary confinement in San Quentin. She’s kidnapped by thugs wanting her to talk about her best friend, Lindsay Boxer, who’s an SFPD homicide detective and the story’s main character. San Francisco has a restrictive new gun law, and gun-totin’ folks everywhere have their boxer shorts in a twist. A national resistance movement has formed—Defenders of the Second—whose motto is “We will not comply.” They find it outrageous that the new law makes it illegal to own a gun that can kill 50 people with a single clip. Meanwhile, lots of bodies show up: A young girl disappears and is later found dead in a ditch, and ex-cops are found dead with their lips stapled shut and “You talk, you die” written on their foreheads. An inmate is found hanged in prison. And “a massive but unspecified load of military-style weaponry was en route from Mexico to the City by the Bay.” In a “frustrating, multipronged case,” there’s a harrowing shootout memorialized in a video showing “twenty-two of the scariest seconds” of Boxer’s life. She’s an appealing series hero with loving family and friends, but she may arrive at a crossroads where she has “to choose between my work and [my] baby girl.” The formulaic story has unmemorable writing, but it’s entertaining and well told. You probably won’t have to worry about the main characters, who have thus far survived 21 adventures. Except for the little girl, you can expect people to get what they deserve. It's relatively mild as crime novels go, but the women characters are serious, strong, and admirable.

Enjoyable storytelling by two masters of the craft.

Pub Date: May 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-49937-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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Well-done crime fiction. Baldacci nails the noir.


An old-fashioned gumshoe yarn about Hollywood dreams and dead bodies.

Private investigator Aloysius Archer celebrates New Year’s Eve 1952 in LA with his gorgeous lady friend and aspiring actress Liberty Callahan. Screenwriter Eleanor Lamb shows up and offers to hire him because “someone might be trying to kill me.” “I’m fifty a day plus expenses,” he replies, but money’s no obstacle. Later, he sneaks into Lamb’s house and stumbles upon a body, then gets knocked out by an unseen assailant. Archer takes plenty of physical abuse in the story, but at least he doesn’t get a bullet between the eyes like the guy he trips over. A 30-year-old World War II combat veteran, Archer is a righteous and brave hero. Luck and grit keep him alive in both Vegas and the City of Angels, which is rife with gangsters and crooked cops. Not rich at all, his one luxury is the blood-red 1939 Delahaye he likes to drive with the top down. He’d bought it with his gambling winnings in Reno, and only a bullet hole in the windscreen post mars its perfection. Liberty loves Archer, but will she put up with the daily danger of losing him? Why doesn’t he get a safe job, maybe playing one of LA’s finest on the hit TV show Dragnet? Instead, he’s a tough and principled idealist who wants to make the world a better place. Either that or he’s simply a “pavement-pounding PI on a slow dance to maybe nowhere.” And if some goon doesn’t do him in sooner, his Lucky Strikes will probably do him in later. Baldacci paints a vivid picture of the not-so-distant era when everybody smoked, Joe McCarthy hunted commies, and Marilyn Monroe stirred men’s loins. The 1950s weren’t the fabled good old days, but they’re fodder for gritty crime stories of high ideals and lowlifes, of longing and disappointment, and all the trouble a PI can handle.

Well-done crime fiction. Baldacci nails the noir.

Pub Date: April 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5387-1977-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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