This starts as a small-town mystery and becomes something grander and more frightening; Penny has upped her thrills-to–pain...

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KINGDOM OF THE BLIND

The Chief Superintendent of the Sûreté du Québec finds himself in a unique position: He's tangled up in the life of a recently deceased woman, and it doesn't involve her murder.

As the first snowflakes of a major storm start to fall, Chief Superintendent Gamache is standing in front of a crooked house in the middle of the woods, unsure of whom he will find inside. Curiosity is what brings him here after receiving a vague invitation in the mail. But is there danger waiting beyond the door? It's what Gamache has been trained to anticipate. Currently suspended from his Sûreté post during the investigation into the controversial events of Glass Houses (2017), Gamache must remember he's here on unofficial business. He and two others who arrive at the house learn that they've been named executors of a will belonging to a woman they never knew in life. Stranger still, the woman, who called herself the Baroness, has left millions to her three children, money everyone is shocked to hear about. Her secretiveness was fueled by generations of family bitterness and resentment. And though it may seem like Gamache has all the time in the world to dive into this dark history, his attention is in fact divided: The deadly opioid that slipped untraced into Montreal under Gamache's watch is expected to hit the streets any day—a most unsettling thought. Penny reveals a deeper vulnerability in the introspective Gamache; is it possible he's not quite sure of himself anymore? A theme of desperation plays out in both story arcs, as characters from all walks of life move between hope and despair and traverse the fine line that separates them. The main mystery pales in comparison to Gamache's interior story, and the decisions he makes are sure to raise a few eyebrows. Moral duty has been synonymous with our hero, but Penny seems to be pushing her characters in new directions with this installment: “[Gamache] considered his options and the atrocity he was about to commit.” The ending is adrenaline-filled but, no, not because of the mysterious will.

This starts as a small-town mystery and becomes something grander and more frightening; Penny has upped her thrills-to–pain au chocolat ratio.

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-06620-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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An overly anodyne attempt at Southern gothic.

THE STOLEN MARRIAGE

A series of unfortunate errors consigns a Baltimore nurse to a loveless marriage in the South.

It’s 1943, and Tess, from Baltimore’s Little Italy, is eagerly anticipating her upcoming nuptials. Her frustration grows, though, when her physician fiance, Vincent, accepts an extended out-of-town assignment to treat polio patients. On an impromptu excursion to Washington, D.C., Tess has too many martinis, resulting in a one-night stand with a chance acquaintance, a furniture manufacturer from North Carolina named Henry. Back in Baltimore, Tess’ extreme Catholic guilt over her indiscretion is compounded by the discovery that she’s pregnant. Eschewing a back-street abortion, she seeks out Henry in hopes of arranging child support—but to her shock, he proposes marriage instead. Once married to Henry and ensconced in his family mansion in Hickory, North Carolina, Tess gets a frosty reception from Henry’s mother, Miss Ruth, and his sister, Lucy, not to mention the other ladies of Hickory, especially Violet, who thought she was Henry’s fiancee. Tess’ isolation worsens after Lucy dies in a freak car accident, and Tess, the driver, is blamed. Her only friends are the African-American servants of the household and an African-American medium who helps her make peace with a growing number of unquiet spirits, including her mother, who expired of shock over Tess’ predicament, and Lucy, not to mention the baby, who did not make it to full term. The marriage is passionless but benign. Although Henry tries to be domineering, he always relents, letting Tess take the nurses' licensing exam and, later, go to work in Hickory’s historic polio hospital. Strangely, despite the pregnancy’s end, he refuses to divorce Tess. There are hints throughout that Henry has secrets; Lucy herself intimates as much shortly before her death. Once the polio hospital story takes over, the accident is largely forgotten, leading readers to suspect that Lucy’s death was a convenient way of postponing crucial revelations about Henry. Things develop predictably until, suddenly and belatedly, the plot heats up in an unpredictable but also unconvincing way.

An overly anodyne attempt at Southern gothic.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-08727-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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An anodyne visit with Tricia and her friends and enemies hung on a thin mystery.

A KILLER EDITION

Too much free time leads a New Hampshire bookseller into yet another case of murder.

Now that Tricia Miles has Pixie Poe and Mr. Everett practically running her bookstore, Haven’t Got a Clue, she finds herself at loose ends. Her wealthy sister, Angelica, who in the guise of Nigela Ricita has invested heavily in making Stoneham a bookish tourist attraction, is entering the amateur competition for the Great Booktown Bake-Off. So Tricia, who’s recently taken up baking as a hobby, decides to join her and spends a lot of time looking for the perfect cupcake recipe. A visit to another bookstore leaves Tricia witnessing a nasty argument between owner Joyce Widman and next-door neighbor Vera Olson over the trimming of tree branches that hang over Joyce’s yard—also overheard by new town police officer Cindy Pearson. After Tricia accepts Joyce’s offer of some produce from her garden, they find Vera skewered by a pitchfork, and when Police Chief Grant Baker arrives, Joyce is his obvious suspect. Ever since Tricia moved to Stoneham, the homicide rate has skyrocketed (Poisoned Pages, 2018, etc.), and her history with Baker is fraught. She’s also become suspicious about the activities at Pets-A-Plenty, the animal shelter where Vera was a dedicated volunteer. Tricia’s offered her expertise to the board, but president Toby Kingston has been less than welcoming. With nothing but baking on her calendar, Tricia has plenty of time to investigate both the murder and her vague suspicions about the shelter. Plenty of small-town friendships and rivalries emerge in her quest for the truth.

An anodyne visit with Tricia and her friends and enemies hung on a thin mystery.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0272-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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