Despite its straightforward formula, the book’s intense action, realistic tone and memorable characters will keep readers...

CAPITAL KILL

Lawyer Jeff Trask is just settling into his new job as an Assistant U.S. Attorney when he becomes embroiled in what seems at first to be a simple murder case, but quickly evolves into a high-stakes international case that could break an already-strapped legal system.

Trask is a rookie U.S Attorney who believes in “the system” and all who participate in it. However, his first case ends up challenging his notion of how to do his job and who to trust. Fans of the legal-thriller genre will recognize the usual suspects: the unlikely cop duo, the wise supervisor and even the insider bad guy. Still, the stock characters are well developed, and the elements are assembled so seamlessly that the story feels fresh. Rainer’s attention to setting also shines through. The streets of Washington, D.C., come alive; those who have lived or worked in the nation’s capital will recognize Rainer’s cunning use of seedy locales to give the action in the book a realistic tone. Perhaps too much time is spent setting up all the major players in this story, so impatient readers will need to resist the urge to flip forward and go directly to the action. Trask, an engaging and relatable main character, frequently finds himself questioning those closest to him as he works to find out who is behind the heinous murders plaguing D.C. Despite being exceedingly intelligent, he comes across as an everyman. Refreshingly, the legal jargon is kept to a minimum, so the reader can focus on the mystery at hand.  But the story drags where romance is concerned: Trask’s relationship with Lynn Preston feels forced because it’s developed too quickly. The two meet early in the story, yet although their relationship takes some twists and turns, it rarely feels real, as opposed to the authentic locations and crime scenes. Fortunately, the narrative spends more time with the investigation, giving readers ample opportunity to connect the dots while second guessing nearly everyone’s motivations.

Despite its straightforward formula, the book’s intense action, realistic tone and memorable characters will keep readers engrossed in this popcorn thriller with a superb payoff.

Pub Date: March 31, 2012

ISBN: 978-1468180213

Page Count: 332

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2012

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

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THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE

In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8272-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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