Another epitychia (success) in this Greek mystery series.


From the Greek Islands Mystery series , Vol. 3

The horrific slaughter of a child refugee will put Chief Officer Yianis Patronas’ sworn duty to uphold the law to the supreme test.

In this timely third Greek Islands Mystery, Patronas has by now “learned far more about forensics than he wanted to know” and has earned the nickname “Poirot” from colleagues. But Patronas knows better. In solving two previous murders, “he’d been lucky; that was all.” That’s a little harsh, and in future books it would be nice to see him gain in expertise and become worthy of his nickname. Until then, he has been brought to Sifnos along with octogenarian priest Papa Michalis, now on leave from the church to work with the police department (“he was especially good at ferreting out the truth, even from the worst offenders”); bumbling Evangelos Demos (“who squealed like a pig at the sight of blood”); and Giorgos Tembelos. Patronas refers to them as “the three stooges in uniform.” But this case is no laughing matter. The young Pakistani boy—7 or 8 years old—was found by a beautiful ceramicist trussed up, drained of blood, and hung over a pit in a remote excavation site whose name, chillingly, translates in Greek to “death.” Further complicating the case is the rise of anti-refugee sentiment as embodied by Chrisi Avgi (the Golden Dawn), a violent group that may be out for revenge for the rape and murder of a Greek girl by a Pakistani. Other suspects are a visiting American professor and his three callow students who are studying ancient religions. Another chilling prospect is that the boy’s ritualistic murder could be the work of an “ena teras,” a monster reviving pagan practices. As in the first two books in the series, Serafim (When the Devil’s Idle, 2015, etc.) deftly weaves police procedural with a visceral sense of place and a deeply rooted knowledge of Greek history and culture, which is often more compelling than the actual mystery. Atheist Patronas’ interplay with Papa Michalis (“the old fellow who thinks he’s Sherlock Holmes”) and the ethical dilemmas faced in dispensing justice are richly rewarding. The case weighs heavily on Patronas, who resists calls to abandon it. “Mark my words,” he is warned, “it’s going to break your heart.”

Another epitychia (success) in this Greek mystery series.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-60381-244-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Coffeetown Press

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how...


A convicted killer’s list of five people he wants dead runs the gamut from the wife he’s already had murdered to franchise heroine Ali Reynolds.

Back in the day, women came from all over to consult Santa Clarita fertility specialist Dr. Edward Gilchrist. Many of them left his care happily pregnant, never dreaming that the father of the babies they carried was none other than the physician himself, who donated his own sperm rather than that of the handsome, athletic, disease-free men pictured in his scrapbook. When Alexandra Munsey’s son, Evan, is laid low by the kidney disease he’s inherited from his biological father and she returns to Gilchrist in search of the donor’s medical records, the roof begins to fall in on him. By the time it’s done falling, he’s serving a life sentence in Folsom Prison for commissioning the death of his wife, Dawn, the former nurse and sometime egg donor who’d turned on him. With nothing left to lose, Gilchrist tattoos himself with the initials of five people he blames for his fall: Dawn; Leo Manuel Aurelio, the hit man he’d hired to dispose of her; Kaitlyn Todd, the nurse/receptionist who took Dawn’s place; Alex Munsey, whose search for records upset his apple cart; and Ali Reynolds, the TV reporter who’d helped put Alex in touch with the dozen other women who formed the Progeny Project because their children looked just like hers. No matter that Ali’s been out of both California and the news business for years; Gilchrist and his enablers know that revenge can’t possibly be served too cold. Wonder how far down that list they’ll get before Ali, aided once more by Frigg, the methodical but loose-cannon AI first introduced in Duel to the Death (2018), turns on them?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how little the boundary-challenged AI, who gets into the case more or less inadvertently, differs from your standard human sidekick with issues.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5101-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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