An involving mystery elevated by vivid characterizations.

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GUILTY KNOWLEDGE

A black police detective investigating a murder finds himself drawn to a white woman who claims to have psychic visions of the killer.

In time-honored, crime novel tradition, Detective Jesse Aaron gets his world rocked when a beautiful woman enters his office with information about a “nasty case with no easy answers.” The murder victim is Rosa Logan. Sariah Brennan states she knows who the killer is. “I don’t know his full name, but he’s called Casey,” she informs Aaron. “A big dark man with a scar on his neck.” When Aaron asks her whether she was an eyewitness to the crime, she responds: “I saw him…in my head, like in a vision.” The incredulous Aaron is surprised when parts of Brennan’s story check out, including key information that had been withheld from the media. Complicating matters is that the suspect, Kazimir Capek, or K.C., has reportedly been dead for three years. Brennan not only sticks to her story, she also insists to Aaron and his black female partner, Camille Farris, that the killer is still alive and another woman, named Elisabeth, is in danger. Aaron doesn’t know what to make of Brennan. Farris is openly hostile, bad cop to his good cop (“If you’re through wasting our time, we have work to do”). But Aaron cannot convince himself he is just intrigued by the mystery. He wonders whether something is happening between him and Brennan: “When she asked him to call her Sariah, did she guess how easily he already thought of her that way?” Griffin has a gift for romantic suspense. Aaron and Brennan’s budding relationship, which is complicated by her secrets, builds deliberately and credibly and elicits as much interest as the resolution of the murder case. The issue of race adds an intriguing wrinkle to old school murder mystery tropes, although this could have been developed further. When Brennan remarks that she isn’t used to being alone with someone she doesn’t know, Aaron wonders if “someone” maybe means a black man. And Farris’ tirades include her objection to “brothers who try to score points by getting a white chick.” She tells Aaron: “It shouldn’t be so hard to stick to your own kind.”

An involving mystery elevated by vivid characterizations.

Pub Date: March 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5092-3045-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Review Posted Online: March 12, 2020

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Now that Coben’s added politics to his heady brew, expect sex and religion to join the mix.

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THE BOY FROM THE WOODS

Coben’s latest darkest-suburbs thriller sets a decidedly offbeat detective on the trail of a crime with overtones unmistakably redolent of once and future presidential elections.

Wilde is called Wilde because nobody’s known his real name from the moment a pair of hikers found him foraging for himself in Ramapo Mountain State Forest 24 years ago. Now over 40, he’s had experience as both a lost boy and a private investigator. That makes him an obvious person to help when his godson, Sweet Water High School student Matthew Crimstein, expresses concern to his grandmother, attorney Hester Crimstein, that his bullied classmate Naomi Pine has gone missing. Matthew doesn’t really want anyone to help. He doesn’t even want anyone to notice his agitation. But Hester, taking the time from her criminal defense of financial consultant Simon Greene (Run Away, 2019) to worm the details out of him, asks Wilde to lend a hand, and sure enough, Wilde, unearthing an unsavory backstory that links Naomi to bullying classmate Crash Maynard, whose TV producer father, Dash Maynard, is close friends with reality TV star–turned–presidential hopeful Rusty Eggers, finds Naomi hale and hearty. Everything’s hunky-dory for one week, and then she disappears again. And this time, so does Crash after a brief visit to Matthew in which he tearfully confesses his guilt about the bad stuff he did to Naomi. This second disappearance veers into more obviously criminal territory with the arrival of a ransom note that demands, not money, but the allegedly incriminating videotapes of Rusty Eggers that Dash and Delia Maynard have had squirreled away for 30 years. The tapes link Rusty to a forgotten and forgettable homicide and add a paranoid new ripped-from-the-headlines dimension to the author’s formidable range. Readers who can tune out all the subplots will find the kidnappers easy to spot, but Coben finds room for three climactic surprises, one of them a honey.

Now that Coben’s added politics to his heady brew, expect sex and religion to join the mix.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4814-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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This is fast-paced, nonstop fun. Cussler fans will gobble it up.

JOURNEY OF THE PHARAOHS

Rumors of lost Egyptian treasure spark high adventure in this 17th in the NUMA series featuring oceanographer Kurt Austin and his crew (Sea of Greed, 2018, etc.).

Over 3,000 years ago, grave robbers sail away with loot from a pharaoh’s tomb. In 1927, Jake Melbourne and his plane disappear in his attempt at a trans-Atlantic flight. In the present day, arms merchants known as the Bloodstone Group have taken to stealing antiquities. They are looking for a “treasure both vast and glorious” that hieroglyphics say was shipped down the Nile and out of Egypt, perhaps even west across the Atlantic. (Holy scurvy! That must’ve been a lot of hard rowing!) The criminals are known to MI5 as “very dangerous people" and "merchants selling death.” Perfectly willing to kill everyone in their way, they are aided by mechanical crows and Fydor and Xandra, nasty sibling assassins jointly called the Toymaker. Such are the foes faced by Austin and his team from the National Underwater and Marine Agency. Of course, Austin has no interest in profit; he will gladly leave the ancient riches wherever they are. Action arrives early and often, and the failed pre-Lindbergh flight fits in neatly. Cussler and Brown concoct a nifty plot with disparate, sometimes over-the-top twists that will make even hardcore adventure fans say “Wow!” Expect claustrophobic gunfights, aerial combat, a life-threatening flood, messages from the dead, coffins of gold—and a vintage classic car, because why not? “We’re going to steal the greatest deposit of Egyptian treasure the world has ever known,” brags the evil mastermind. But he’ll have to climb over the series hero’s dead body first, which—no plot spoiler here—ain’t gonna happen.

This is fast-paced, nonstop fun. Cussler fans will gobble it up.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-08308-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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