An often entertaining, action-heavy thriller that hits some familiar beats.


From the Luis Chavez series , Vol. 3

In Wheaton’s (City of Strangers, 2016, etc.) third series installment, Father Luis Chavez and Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Michael Story investigate a massive money-laundering scheme.

At dinner, Story’s girlfriend and co-worker, Naomi Okpewho, tells him that she’s just stumbled across some troubling information about Charles Sittenfield, a banker, who’s under investigation for his wife’s murder. Specifically, Naomi has found evidence of “something that could lead to additional charges outside the scope of this investigation.” However, on her drive back home, Naomi dies in a suspicious accident, and Story figures that it must be related to the Sittenfield case. At the same time, Chavez is dealing with a crisis of faith: he can no longer hear God’s voice, and he feels as if he is going through the motions instead of being a true vessel for the Lord. He’s also troubled by his estranged father’s reappearance in his life. Story is attacked while meeting with Gennady Archipenko, a money launderer who works at Sittenfield’s bank, and this leads to the death of one of Chavez’s parishioners, drawing him, reluctantly, into the mystery. Together, Story and Chavez uncover a massive financial conspiracy that puts their lives—and those of everyone in their orbit—in peril. Wheaton is skilled at plotting, always keeping the revelations and twists coming. He also knows when to punch things up with a firefight, which he does often. The prose is dialogue-heavy and often stylistically plain. Still, Wheaton does offer some clever turns of phrase, such as Story’s foreboding realization that “the mouth of my grave has opened.” The characters sometimes stray into cliché—a drug-cartel boogeyman, a Russian white-collar-crime maestro, a young computer whiz. But Wheaton creates some real emotional tension as Chavez investigates the Roman Catholic Church, the very institution to which he’s pledged his life. The various connections of the money-laundering conspiracy can stretch credulity at times, but most of the plot threads are neatly tied up by the end, which includes hints of more stories to come.

An often entertaining, action-heavy thriller that hits some familiar beats.

Pub Date: June 13, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4778-1944-9

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2017

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

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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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The loose ends that make this the least satisfactory of Joe’s three cases to date still don’t inhibit Box’s gift for nonstop...


The latest in an award-winning series set in the Bighorn Mountains (Savage Run, 2002, etc.).

Minutes after Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett arrests Lamar Gardiner, District Supervisor for the Twelve Sleep National Forest, for firing into a herd of elk, killing seven animals and blindly continuing to reload with cigarettes after he runs out of shells, Gardiner manages to handcuff Joe to his steering wheel and bolt off into a winter storm, only to turn up pinned to a tree with a pair of arrows, his throat cut. And things get even messier from that point on. The attack on a federal agent, together with reports that the Nation of the Rocky Mountain Sovereign Citizens has established an encampment in Twelve Sleep, brings gung-ho US Forest Service investigator Melinda Strickland and FBI sharpshooter Dick Munker, a veteran of Waco and Ruby Ridge, to town. Strickland maintains that she’s just trying to get justice for a murdered official, but she seems awfully eager to tie the perp to the Sovereigns. By the time Joe arrests one of Gardiner’s disappointing killers and identifies the other, Strickland and Munker are already planning an all-out attack on the encampment. The prospect is a personal nightmare for Joe, since Jeannie Keeley, the drifter whose abandoned daughter April Joe and his wife have been trying to adopt, has reclaimed April and spirited her off to the dubious shelter of the Sovereigns.

The loose ends that make this the least satisfactory of Joe’s three cases to date still don’t inhibit Box’s gift for nonstop action and his ability to see every side of the most divisive issues in the West.

Pub Date: May 12, 2003

ISBN: 0-399-15045-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2003

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