Eccles combines a steady police procedural with a tense family drama that hits all the right notes.

DARKNESS BEYOND

In 1933, an English soldier comes back from the dead only to be killed again.

The Black Country town of Folbury owes a lot to the Millar family. For three generations the Millars have provided affordable housing to everyone from factory workers to the upper crust. That is, all but Paul Millar, the restless one of the Millar children, who isn’t interested in anything without an engine. Easily provoked, he went off to Germany to sulk after some real or imagined insult only to return with a bubbly German wife, Liesl. But after Liesl dies, he again leaves his family, this time including his young son, Matt, to fight the Germans in the Great War. Years after his reported death in combat, he reappears still again, shocking his sister, Thea, and his younger brother, Teddy, who’s now in charge of the Millar empire. Before Paul can tell anyone where he’s been or why he’s returned, his body washes up in the River Fol. And once the police doctor confirms that Paul was killed by a shot in the back of his head, it’s up to DI Bert Reardon and his sergeant, Joe Gilmour, to find out why. Methodical and perceptive, Reardon digs further and further back into the Millars’ history to find the story of the man who had to die twice.

Eccles combines a steady police procedural with a tense family drama that hits all the right notes.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7278-5060-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Severn House

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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Terrifying, primal, and very, very tense. Read it with your heart in your throat—but read it.

ONE STEP TOO FAR

Frankie Elkin, a miraculous finder of missing persons, seeks a man who wandered into the wilderness and was never seen again.

Last seen rescuing a missing teenager from the gritty streets of Boston, Frankie embarks from a bus in Ramsey, Wyoming, drawn in by the story of hiker Timothy O’Day, who's been missing for five years, and the last-gasp efforts of his father, Martin, to search for his remains. Frankie has some regrets about leaving Boston, but she's called to find those others have given up on. She manages to finagle her way on to the search party, which in addition to Martin includes a local guide; a search-and-rescue dog and her handler; a Bigfoot expert; and Tim’s friends, who were in the woods with him when he went missing. In the years since, they’ve moved on with their lives, but they are carrying guilt and secrets about the night Tim disappeared. As they all head into the unforgiving wilderness, it quickly becomes apparent that someone is deeply threatened by this effort to find Tim’s body. As she endeavors to draw the truth from each member of the search party, Frankie can tell that she's in over her head, and not only because she’s an inexperienced outdoorswoman. Could Tim still be alive and looking for revenge, or is there a more dangerous secret that someone would kill to protect? Gardner is incredibly skilled at developing tension and suspense; she’s equally skilled at slowly revealing complex characters and their secrets. Both gifts reinforce each other in this novel. If Frankie is out of her element, so are we: It’s not often that a thriller so deeply casts us into the darkness of both nature and the human heart.

Terrifying, primal, and very, very tense. Read it with your heart in your throat—but read it.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-18541-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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A crime yarn laced with tension and wit.

ROBERT B. PARKER'S BYE BYE BABY

The latest of dozens of Boston-based crime novels in the late Robert B. Parker’s Spenser series.

Spenser is a tough White detective, and his close associate is a tougher Black guy named Hawk. Both are pretty much on the right side of the law, though Hawk has a less-than-heartwarming history with cops. Aides of Congresswoman Carolina Garcia-Ramirez, aka CGR, want to hire Spenser to protect her from troubling death threats as she campaigns for renomination, although she doesn’t think it necessary. People seem to think she’s either “Joan of Arc or Attila the Hun,” but she says she’s used to the haters. CGR evokes images of AOC and Ayanna Pressley, mainly in the intensity of hatred toward her. She thinks Spenser looks “like a leg breaker from Southie,” but he has more endearing qualities, such as quoting dead White poets: “Faith it does me,” he tells her. “Though it discolors the complexion of my greatness to acknowledge it.” He’s also a renowned wiseass, allowing that he often settles scores with his fists, but “Only when a good hug fails.” Sometimes he’s a bit too cute: “I smiled, offering half wattage so as not to distract her from her duties.” And asked by a receptionist to identify himself, he says, “Fred Flintstone. I’m here about arranging a meeting of the Royal Water Buffalo.” But there are good descriptions: “He had the kind of a face that demanded a spiked collar around his neck,” and Hawk’s pointed social remark, “Sometimes just being born makes you a target.” So there’s going to be a primary debate, and the word on the street is that someone plans to “make a run” at CGR immediately afterward. The FBI wants CGR to fire Spenser and Hawk, but she wisely has confidence in the local muscle. “You and I are a different breed of thug,” says Spenser to Hawk.

A crime yarn laced with tension and wit.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-32851-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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