Memorable characters make for a winsome, absorbing detective tale.

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In this mystery/thriller, two Los Angeles private eyes team up on a case involving murder, blackmail, and missing people.

Mari E–whose full name isn’t disclosed at first—is barely into her latest investigation when threatening notes turn up in her mailbox. She’s apparently too close to unmasking whomever is blackmailing an appellate judge with reputed evidence of murder. So she brings in another PI for “backup”—Derek Abernathy, whom she meets for the first time. It turns out the case he’s working on has ties to hers. He’s looking into a couple of journalist co-workers, one who’s been missing for a month and the other dead by strangulation. The two had been investigating the homicide of French art student Sophie Michaud, whose case has connections to Mari’s judge client. It only gets more complicated from there, as questions surround Sophie’s autopsy, the journalists’ unpublished articles, and secret histories that the PIs dredge up. All the while, a mysterious dark gray van incessantly shadows Mari, and someone breaks into her house. Mari and Derek, working with local police and Mari’s resourceful Tibetan friend Duga, scramble to close the case before another body turns up. Towles (Ninety-Five, 2021, etc.) packs a hefty plot into this entertaining book. It’s sometimes tongue-in-cheek; the PIs solidify their partnership by checking each other out through surveillance or rooting through garbage. The mystery nevertheless enthralls, and though copious dialogue scenes dive deep into case particulars and evolving theories, the story is never confusing. The cast is equally riveting; the private eyes work alongside Detective Ivan Dent, who is Mari’s ex-lover and had fired Derek from his LAPD job. Mari herself is a delightful enigma, as her former career in the CIA and her inexplicably missing father both have links to the blackmail/murder investigation. The story offers myriad answers by the end, but all the unresolved bits practically demand a sequel.

Memorable characters make for a winsome, absorbing detective tale.

Pub Date: June 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-64456-425-7

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Indies United Publishing House

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2022


Loyal King stans may disagree, but this is a snooze.

A much-beloved author gives a favorite recurring character her own novel.

Holly Gibney made her first appearance in print with a small role in Mr. Mercedes (2014). She played a larger role in The Outsider (2018). And she was the central character in If It Bleeds, a novella in the 2020 collection of the same name. King has said that the character “stole his heart.” Readers adore her, too. One way to look at this book is as several hundred pages of fan service. King offers a lot of callbacks to these earlier works that are undoubtedly a treat for his most loyal devotees. That these easter eggs are meaningless and even befuddling to new readers might make sense in terms of costs and benefits. King isn’t exactly an author desperate to grow his audience; pleasing the people who keep him at the top of the bestseller lists is probably a smart strategy, and this writer achieved the kind of status that whatever he writes is going to be published. Having said all that, it’s possible that even his hardcore fans might find this story a bit slow. There are also issues in terms of style. Much of the language King uses and the cultural references he drops feel a bit creaky. The word slacks occurs with distracting frequency. King uses the phrase keeping it on the down-low in a way that suggests he probably doesn’t understand how this phrase is currently used—and has been used for quite a while. But the biggest problem is that this narrative is framed as a mystery without delivering the pleasures of a mystery. The reader knows who the bad guys are from the start. This can be an effective storytelling device, but in this case, waiting for the private investigator heroine to get to where the reader is at the beginning of the story feels interminable.

Loyal King stans may disagree, but this is a snooze.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781668016138

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023


The most richly accomplished of the brothers’ pairings to date—and given Connelly’s high standards, that’s saying a lot.

Harry Bosch and the Lincoln Lawyer team up to exonerate a woman who’s already served five years for killing her ex-husband.

The evidence against Lucinda Sanz was so overwhelming that she followed the advice of Frank Silver, the B-grade attorney who’d elbowed his way onto her defense, and pleaded no contest to manslaughter to avoid a life sentence for shooting Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Roberto Sanz in the back as he stalked out of her yard after their latest argument. But now that her son, Eric, is 13, old enough to get recruited by local gangs, she wants to be out of stir and at his side. So she writes to Mickey Haller, who asks his half-brother for help. After all his years working for the LAPD, Bosch is adamant about not working for a criminal defendant, even though Haller’s already taken him on as an associate so that he can get access to private health insurance and a UCLA medical trial for an experimental cancer treatment. But the habeas corpus hearing Haller’s aiming for isn’t, strictly speaking, a criminal defense proceeding, and even a cursory examination of the forensic evidence raises Bosch’s hackles. Bolstered by Bosch’s discoveries and a state-of-the-art digital reconstruction of the shooting, Haller heads to court to face Assistant Attorney General Hayden Morris, who has a few tricks up his own sleeve. The endlessly resourceful courtroom back-and-forth is furious in its intensity, although Haller eventually upstages Bosch, Morris, and everyone else in sight. What really stands out here, however, is that Connelly never lets you forget, from his title onward, the life-or-death issues behind every move in the game.

The most richly accomplished of the brothers’ pairings to date—and given Connelly’s high standards, that’s saying a lot.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9780316563765

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023

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