Three tepid treats for the holiday season.


Three Christmas greetings bring clues to murder.

Meier’s title story presents Lucy Stone on the verge of realizing a lifelong dream. Since three of their four children are grown and living on their own, she wants her carpenter husband, Bill, to knock out the wall between their cramped bedroom and an adjacent room to create a luxurious master suite. As Bill bangs away at the lath and plaster, Lucy finds an antique Christmas card with a nasty message hidden in the baseboard. Lucy’s search for the sender circles back to the long-ago murder of a high school student. Although her inquiry has moments of high drama, including a blizzard that shuts down the town, the solution is a letdown. The miserable missive in Hollis’ Death of a Christmas Carol is sent by Carol Waterman to three friends: Hayley Powell, food writer for the Island Times; Rosana Moretti, wife of the Times’ publisher; and Hayley’s friend Mona Barnes, a lobsterwoman. Borrowing from the classic film A Letter to Three Wives, Carol’s card reveals her plans to run off with the husband of one of the friends, plans that are foiled by her death. Neither the solving of the mystery nor the unmasking of the errant spouse offers any holiday cheer. Ehrhart’s Death of a Christmas Card Crafter tells the sad tale of popular high school art teacher Karma Karling, whom readers never meet before her body is found in a local Christmas tree lot. She leaves behind the last of a Twelve-Days-of-Christmas–themed series of cards featuring not 12 but 13 drummers drumming. Neighbors Pamela Paterson and Bettina Fraser use that extra image to track down Karma’s killer—a solution that comes so far out of left field it could have been sent there by Willie Mays.

Three tepid treats for the holiday season.

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4967-2822-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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One of the most successful of Box’s increasingly ambitious have-it-all thrillers.


The Wyoming winter brings maverick game warden Joe Pickett poachers, murderers, spies, and some ferocious bad weather.

Seeking a wounded elk and a marauding wolf during a brutal snowstorm, Joe is amazed to discover a human corpse sticking halfway out of a metal outbuilding on the Double Diamond ranch. While he’s conscientiously photographing the crime scene, somebody starts shooting at him. Ranch foreman Clay Hutmacher refuses to say anything about the building’s purpose until he checks with billionaire ranch owner Michael Thompson; Gov. Colter Allen abruptly orders Joe off the case; and departing Twelve Sleep County Sheriff Scott Tibbs, the boss who’d do anything to avoid having Joe make waves, reports that there’s no body at the place he described. Meanwhile, Joe’s old friend Nate Romanowski, an outlaw falconer, is approached by ex–Army Ranger Jason Demo, who’s trying to attract anti-government malcontents to join the secessionist Sovereign Nation, and Joe realizes that his predatory mother-in-law, Missy, is neglecting her fifth or sixth husband, attorney Marcus Hand, who’s dying of pancreatic cancer, to cozy up to Allen, who plans to launch his campaign for reelection at the public library headed by Joe’s wife, Marybeth. What does the death of University of Wyoming engineering professor Zhang Wei, if that’s really who the dead man was, have to do with all of this malfeasance? Like a patient spider, Box plays out plotline after plotline, balancing his sympathies adroitly between anti-establishment libertarians who’ve had enough of the coastal elites and officers sworn to serve and protect their communities, before knotting them all together with a climactic revelation that for better or worse will leave you gasping.

One of the most successful of Box’s increasingly ambitious have-it-all thrillers.

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2023

ISBN: 9780593331309

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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A compelling take on the classic whodunit.

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The shocking murder of a public figure at a high-end hotel has everyone guessing who the culprit might be.

Twenty-five-year-old Molly Gray, an eccentric young woman who's obsessed with cleaning but doesn't quite have the same ability to navigate social cues as those around her, loves working as a maid at the Regency Grand Hotel. Raised by her old-fashioned grandmother, who loved nothing more than cleaning and watching Columbo reruns, Molly has an overly polite and straightforward manner that can make her seem odd and off-putting to her colleagues despite her being the hardest worker at the hotel. After her grandmother's death, Molly's rigid life begins to lose some of its long-held balance, and when the infamous Mr. Charles Black, a rich and powerful businessman suspected of various criminal enterprises, is found murdered in one of the rooms she cleans, her whole world gets turned upside down. Before Molly knows what's happening, her odd demeanor has the police convinced she's guilty of the crime, and certain people at the hotel are a little too pleased about it. With the help of a few new friends (and while fending off new foes), she must begin to untangle the mystery of who really killed Mr. Black to get herself off the hook once and for all. Though the unusual ending might frustrate some readers, this unique debut will keep them reading.

A compelling take on the classic whodunit.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35615-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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