A light, enjoyable murder mystery that marks the beginning of a promising new series.


The Big Lead


From the Stella Reynolds Mystery series , Vol. 1

A rookie reporter delves into a small town’s big secrets in Kirsch’s debut mystery novel.

Stella Reynolds is desperate. She needs a job, and her only option is a tiny TV station in Bozeman, Montana, far away from the glamorous life of a big-city reporter. The hours are long, the equipment is ancient, and newsworthy stories are few and far between. As she begins to learn the ropes of her new job, she chases a story that has the potential to launch her to bigger and better things. While her colleagues cover animal adoptions at the Humane Society and the buffalo situation in Yellowstone National Park, she manages to stumble across an unexpectedly juicy story involving a double murder. It’s big news, but the sheriff’s case against the prime murder suspect is weak, and there’s something fishy going on with the investigation. It soon becomes apparent that the deaths are only the tip of the iceberg; there’s an even bigger story out there involving a conspiracy that could bring down local, state, and federal authorities. Stella follows the trail, assisted by her co-workers and a potential love interest from a competing network. Kirsch’s novel is full of humor, mystery, and romantic tension. The story is well-paced, deftly balancing action with moments of suspense and discovery. Stella is a wonderfully relatable protagonist who spills coffee with startling regularity yet manages to maintain an air of composure when covering stories. Kirsch’s own journalistic background lends an authenticity to the tale, and Stella’s on-screen flubs, embarrassing moments, and small-town reporting feel legitimate. Solid supporting characters offer additional interest, especially Stella’s acerbic co-worker Vindi. Although readers will appreciate the presence of John, the handsome love interest, the rapport between Vindi and Stella brings a little girl power to the classic Holmes/Watson–style relationship.

A light, enjoyable murder mystery that marks the beginning of a promising new series.  

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9969350-0-5

Page Count: 326

Publisher: Sunnyside Press

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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