Although Johnston (Bite the Biscuit, 2015, etc.) is as heavy-handed with references to luck as the Destiny citizens are in...

KNOCK ON WOOD

A newcomer to a town obsessed with luck tries to solve the murder of her friend’s suitor while keeping her fingers crossed.

Though some think her past run-ins with danger have been bad luck, Rory Chasen is determined that moving to superstition-obsessed Destiny, California, will give her a charmed life. Sure, she got tied up with a murder as a new resident of the town, but that’s all in the past. Now she’s lucked into the perfect job selling pet wares at the Lucky Dog Boutique, and she’s even got a lucky black-and-white pup, Pluckie. Rory hopes her good luck will rub off on her friend Gemma while the latter is in town. It’s not that Gemma is typically plagued with bad luck, but she’s struggling to get over a recent breakup with fellow librarian Frank. Rory’s not sure she can be any help in the romance department—she’s been a mess since she lost her fiance—but she’s hoping to lift Gemma’s spirits in other ways. In any event, Gemma doesn’t seem to need Rory’s help with romance because after only a few days in town, she’s the focus of multiple potential suitors. Unfortunately, one of these is Frank, who’s turned up uninvited and unwanted. The misfortune doesn’t stop there, for Rory and Pluckie soon come upon the body of another of the men interested in Gemma. Both Gemma and Rory are potential suspects, and the citizens of Destiny wonder if either of them could be bad luck. Rory just hopes for the chance to redeem herself to Police Chief Justin Halbertson, not simply as an innocent party, but maybe as something more personal.

Although Johnston (Bite the Biscuit, 2015, etc.) is as heavy-handed with references to luck as the Destiny citizens are in seeding their sidewalks with heads-up pennies, the over-the-top characterization works.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7387-4552-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Midnight Ink/Llewellyn

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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Joe’s fifth case is his best balanced, most deeply felt and most mystifying to date: an absolute must.

OUT OF RANGE

Crime-fighting Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett outdoes himself during a temporary transfer from sleepy Saddlestring to fashionable Jackson Hole.

Will Jensen, the Jackson game warden, was a great guy and a model warden, but once his wife left him six months ago, he spiraled into madness and suicide, and now Joe’s been called to replace him. The transition is anything but smooth. There’s no question of Joe’s family coming with him, so he’s reduced to hoping he can get a signal for the cell-phone calls he squeezes into his busy schedule. En route to his new posting, Joe has to pursue a marauding grizzly. He arrives to meet a formidable series of challenges. Cantankerous outfitter Smoke Van Horn wants to go on attracting elk with illegal salt licks without the new warden’s interference. Animal Liberation Network activist Pi Stevenson wants him to publicize her cause and adopt a vegan diet. Developer Don Ennis wants to open a housing development for millionaires who like their meat free of additives. Ennis’s trophy wife Stella simply wants Joe—and he wants her back. As he wrestles with these demands, and with a supervisor riled over Joe’s track record of destroying government property in pursuit of bad guys (Trophy Hunt, 2004, etc.), Joe slowly becomes convinced that Will did not kill himself.

Joe’s fifth case is his best balanced, most deeply felt and most mystifying to date: an absolute must.

Pub Date: May 5, 2005

ISBN: 0-399-15291-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

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An undisciplined but powerfully lacerating story, by an author who knows every block of the neighborhood and every hair on...

MYSTIC RIVER

After five adventures for Boston shamus Patrick Kenzie and his off-again lover Angela Gennaro (Prayers for Rain, 1999, etc.), Lehane tries his hand at a crossover novel that’s as dark as any of Patrick’s cases.

Even the 1975 prologue is bleak. Sean Devine and Jimmy Marcus are playing, or fighting, outside Sean’s parents’ house in the Point neighborhood of East Buckingham when a car pulls up, one of the two men inside flashes a badge, and Sean and Jimmy’s friend Dave Boyle gets bundled inside, allegedly to be driven home to his mother for a scolding but actually to get kidnapped. Though Dave escapes after a few days, he never really outlives his ordeal, and 25 years later it’s Jimmy’s turn to join him in hell when his daughter Katie is shot and beaten to death in the wilds of Pen Park, and State Trooper Sean, just returned from suspension, gets assigned to the case. Sean knows that both Dave and Jimmy have been in more than their share of trouble in the past. And he’s got an especially close eye on Jimmy, whose marriage brought him close to the aptly named Savage family and who’s done hard time for robbery. It would be just like Jimmy, Sean knows, to ignore his friend’s official efforts and go after the killer himself. But Sean would be a lot more worried if he knew what Dave’s wife Celeste knows: that hours after catching sight of Katie in the last bar she visited on the night of her death, Dave staggered home covered with somebody else’s blood. Burrowing deep into his three sorry heroes and the hundred ties that bind them unbearably close, Lehane weaves such a spellbinding tale that it’s easy to overlook the ramshackle mystery behind it all.

An undisciplined but powerfully lacerating story, by an author who knows every block of the neighborhood and every hair on his characters’ heads.

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2001

ISBN: 0-688-16316-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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