An intriguing portrait of a smart man tucked inside a well-crafted thriller.

TERMINAL INVESTMENTS...

A SINISTER MURDER MYSTERY

A young, well-meaning investment analyst finds himself in trouble in this mystery.

Stellar finance student David Anderson is ready to graduate from college and wants to land at his dream company, Faust Financial Investments. What David doesn’t know is that FFI was built on a dubious foundation. An older customer who had fallen on hard times offered founder Orville Wilcox a deal that he couldn’t resist. For pennies on the dollar up front, she would make him the beneficiary of her multimillion-dollar life insurance policy. He convinced his best friends, Darren Wade and Steve Chew, to invest, and FFI was born. These so-called “Gold Account” customers, who make FFI the beneficiary of their life-insurance policies in exchange for upfront cash, became the unsavory backbone of the company. Shortly after joining FFI, David overhears the partners discussing how Gold Account holders are dying prematurely. He takes this to mean FFI is killing off its customers. He hacks into FFI’s database to investigate the Gold Accounts. Discovering the hack, the partners contact the FBI. They set a trap for the hacker, and David abducts Eva Shore, an FFI plant. He is eventually arrested, goes on trial, and attempts to clear his name. L.F. Earl and S.L. Earl have created a suspenseful novel that’s firmly rooted in reality, as too many older people end up sacrificing their assets to help cover the costs of longer life spans provided by modern medicine. It was clever of the authors to open with a pivotal moment in the narrative, then to flash back to the events leading up to that. The book’s biggest problem is that the protagonist jumps to faulty conclusions based on his hunches and suppositions. David is an intelligent man; asking the right people key questions would have saved him pain in the end. He wouldn’t want his clients to invest without getting all the facts yet he fails to do that. It is evident early on that he is in over his head. Still, the authors come through with a sparkling twist in the end.

An intriguing portrait of a smart man tucked inside a well-crafted thriller.

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-09-723975-7

Page Count: 278

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2021

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE

In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8272-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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Sprawling and only intermittently suspenseful till that last act: below average for this distinguished series.

OCEAN PREY

No oceans in Minnesota, you say? That won’t stop Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers, who are clearly determined to burn through their bucket list on the federal government’s dime.

The murders of three Coast Guard officers chasing a suspicious boat in Florida waters by crooks who set fire to the boat moments after abandoning it send shock waves through the DEA, the FBI, and eventually the U.S. Marshals Service. In short order Lucas and his colleague and pal Bob Matees find themselves on a task force Florida Sen. Christopher Colles convenes to find the drugs the fugitives managed to dump into the Atlantic before they shot their pursuers and arrest everyone in sight. The duo’s modus operandi seems to be to talk to everyone who’s seen anything, and then talk to everyone they’ve mentioned, and so on, taking regular breaks to drink, reminisce, and swap wisecracks. Everything is so relaxed and routine that fans of this long-running series will just know that Sandford has something more up his sleeve, and he does. Eventually the task force’s net widens to make room for Virgil, who, working with Marshal Rae Givens, hires himself out to the criminals as a diver who can retrieve those drugs while Lucas and his allies work their way higher and higher up the food chain of baddies. The cast is enormous and mostly forgettable, but Sandford manages to work up a full head of steam when Lucas realizes that his scorched-earth tactics have put Virgil and Rae in serious danger.

Sprawling and only intermittently suspenseful till that last act: below average for this distinguished series.

Pub Date: April 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-08702-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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