A good old-fashioned mystery novel with a lovable leading man at its heart.



In Allen’s debut mystery, the first of a planned series, a plucky young reporter takes matters into his own hands when his new crush goes missing.

Things look grim for Duncan Walsh, a young Northwestern University School of Journalism graduate. He was fired from his job at Chicago’s Channel 8 News for punching the lecherous (albeit Emmy-award winning) lead news anchor in the neck. As a result, Duncan struggles to get by on little money, living on “ramen noodles, five dollar foot longs, the occasional museum entrance fee, and admittedly, the occasional beer. One had to keep living.” Then he meets Agnes Nowakowski, a beguiling, sharp paleontology tour guide at the Chicago Museum of Natural History. Charmed by her brains and beauty, he takes her on a coffee date, undeterred by the fact that she’s seeing someone else. The unemployed Duncan fills his days with his pursuit of Agnes, hoping to win a second date. Eventually, the two connect by phone but don’t meet, as Agnes is slated to head off to a long archaeological dig in Montana. Duncan is shocked several days later when he sees Agnes’ face on the 10 o’clock news; apparently, she mysteriously disappeared before she even boarded her bus. Duncan is certain that he’ll be a suspect and decides to clear his own name by finding out what happened to Agnes himself. Allen’s page-turner chronicles Duncan’s investigation from start to finish, from his creation of his own online news outlet to get press passes to news conferences to his confrontation with Agnes’ boyfriend, James, about her disappearance. Ultimately, he follows a lead that ends up being far more dangerous than he ever imagined. Allen delivers a well-written mystery that’s equal parts funny and suspenseful. Although the book’s mystery is intriguing, what makes it truly successful is its lead character, Duncan, who’s a relatable, charmingly witty and admirably gutsy narrator. Readers will likely find him the perfect candidate to star in his own mystery series.

A good old-fashioned mystery novel with a lovable leading man at its heart.

Pub Date: Dec. 13, 2013

ISBN: 978-1492334903

Page Count: 254

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2014

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


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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Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how...


A convicted killer’s list of five people he wants dead runs the gamut from the wife he’s already had murdered to franchise heroine Ali Reynolds.

Back in the day, women came from all over to consult Santa Clarita fertility specialist Dr. Edward Gilchrist. Many of them left his care happily pregnant, never dreaming that the father of the babies they carried was none other than the physician himself, who donated his own sperm rather than that of the handsome, athletic, disease-free men pictured in his scrapbook. When Alexandra Munsey’s son, Evan, is laid low by the kidney disease he’s inherited from his biological father and she returns to Gilchrist in search of the donor’s medical records, the roof begins to fall in on him. By the time it’s done falling, he’s serving a life sentence in Folsom Prison for commissioning the death of his wife, Dawn, the former nurse and sometime egg donor who’d turned on him. With nothing left to lose, Gilchrist tattoos himself with the initials of five people he blames for his fall: Dawn; Leo Manuel Aurelio, the hit man he’d hired to dispose of her; Kaitlyn Todd, the nurse/receptionist who took Dawn’s place; Alex Munsey, whose search for records upset his apple cart; and Ali Reynolds, the TV reporter who’d helped put Alex in touch with the dozen other women who formed the Progeny Project because their children looked just like hers. No matter that Ali’s been out of both California and the news business for years; Gilchrist and his enablers know that revenge can’t possibly be served too cold. Wonder how far down that list they’ll get before Ali, aided once more by Frigg, the methodical but loose-cannon AI first introduced in Duel to the Death (2018), turns on them?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how little the boundary-challenged AI, who gets into the case more or less inadvertently, differs from your standard human sidekick with issues.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5101-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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