Is the Yuletide well running dry? Only next year will tell.

A SURPRISE FOR CHRISTMAS

AND OTHER SEASONAL MYSTERIES

Edwards, who must either really love or really hate Christmas, presents yet another collection of seasonal mysteries originally published between 1893 and 1963, half of them during the 1950s.

The most serious disappointment is Catharine Louisa Pirkis’ “The Black Bag Left on a Doorstep,” the historically important but uninspired introduction of detective Loveday Brooke, which Edwards has evidently chosen to make the other 11 reprints look good. And so they do. The highlights are stories by celebrity authors tweaking their usual formulas. G.K. Chesterton’s ceremonious “The Hole in the Wall” replaces Father Brown with the lesser-known Horne Fisher. The vanishing knife in Carter Dickson’s “Persons or Things Unknown” offers a precursor to the historical mysteries he would perfect as John Dickson Carr. And the normally suave Julian Symons’ “Father Christmas Comes to Orbins” is an elaborately plotted jewel robbery that goes elaborately wrong. For the rest, Roderick Alleyn solves the mystery of an unpleasant bully electrocuted by his radio in Ngaio Marsh’s “Death on the Air”; raffish Arthur Crook rescues a student nurse and her doctor fiance when their innocent actions land them in the clutches of a gang of murderous drug dealers in Anthony Gilbert’s overlong “Give Me a Ring”; the short-shorts by E.R. Punshon, Ernest Dudley, Victor Canning, Cyril Hare, and Margery Allingham provide virtuoso lessons in how much action and atmosphere can be packed into 10 pages; and Barry Perowne’s “The Turn-Again Bell,” in which a Christmas miracle saves both a stubbornly anti-religious father who’s refused to participate in his daughter’s wedding to the rector’s son and the rector in question, ends the volume on the most Christmassy note of all.

Is the Yuletide well running dry? Only next year will tell.

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4642-1481-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Poisoned Pen

Review Posted Online: July 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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A smart summer escape.

PORTRAIT OF AN UNKNOWN WOMAN

Silva’s latest Gabriel Allon novel is a bit of a throwback—in the best possible way.

One-time assassin and legendary spymaster Gabriel Allon has finally retired. After saying farewell to his friends and colleagues in Israel, he moves with his wife, Chiara, and their two young children to a piano nobile overlooking Venice’s Grand Canal. His plan is to return to the workshop where he learned to restore paintings as an employee—but only after he spends several weeks recovering from the bullet wound that left him dead for several minutes in The Cellist (2021). Of course, no one expects Gabriel to entirely withdraw from the field, and, sure enough, a call from his friend and occasional asset Julian Isherwood sends him racing around the globe on the trail of art forgers who are willing to kill to protect their extremely lucrative enterprise. Silva provides plenty of thrills and, as usual, offers a glimpse into the lifestyles of the outrageously wealthy. In the early books in this series, it was Gabriel’s work as an art restorer that set him apart from other action heroes, and his return to that world is the most rewarding part of this installment. It is true that, at this point in his storied career, Gabriel has become a nearly mythic figure. And Silva is counting on a lot of love—and willing suspension of disbelief—when Gabriel whips up four old master canvases that fool the world’s leading art experts as a lure for the syndicate selling fake paintings. That said, as Silva explains in an author’s note, the art market is rife with secrecy, subterfuge, and wishful thinking, in no small part because it is almost entirely unregulated. And, if anyone can crank out a Titian, a Tintoretto, a Gentileschi, and a Veronese in a matter of days, it’s Gabriel Allon. The author’s longtime fans may breathe a sigh of relief that this entry is relatively free of politics and the pandemic is nowhere in sight.

A smart summer escape.

Pub Date: July 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-283485-0

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Harper

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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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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