The author saves a few surprises for the end in this enjoyable art mystery.

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Death on Canvas

From the The Jessie O'Bourne Art Mysteries series , Vol. 1

A murder in the small Montana town of Sage Bluff reignites an investigation into the decades-old disappearance of two valuable Thomas Moran paintings.

Artist and debut author Cherry puts down her paintbrushes long enough to deliver a whodunit. Modern-day drug trafficking, stolen artworks, a 1918 murder witnessed by then-11-year-old John Running Bear at rural Montana’s Benedict’s Mission School for Native Americans, and a large cast of players are woven together, providing unifying threads back and forth between 1918 and the present. Jessie O’Bourne, a successful, 30-something artist, returns to her hometown (with her constant and cantankerous companion, Jack, a large, orange tomcat) to judge an art contest. When she pulls her old pickup truck to the side of the road to sketch some pastoral scenes, she discovers a limp and badly beaten young woman, Amber Reynolds, dumped and hidden among bales of hay next to her father’s barn. And so begins a series of murders that baffles the Sage Bluff police and questions the integrity of almost every character in this tale. Add in two romantic interests for Jessie (local Sgt. Russell Bonham, with whom she has a long, complicated back story, and FBI agent Grant Kennedy from the bureau’s art theft division), along with a few nicely placed misdirections, and the intricate story moves along at a fast clip. Cherry brings her artistic expertise and perceptions to the mystery genre—Jessie sees the world in vibrant splashes of color waiting to be recreated on canvas—and offers a bit of art history along the way. While the stolen paintings at the center of this well-plotted narrative are fictional, Moran was a real landscape artist with a distinguished career. His celebrated Rocky Mountain works helped lead to the creation of Yellowstone National Park. Cherry’s capable writing, however, deserves better copy editing. A typical misstep reads: “He parents are sure she it was probably her iPad.” And Chapter 5 is subtitled: “O’Bourne’s ranch, present day,” when it is in fact set in the sheriff’s office. A second Jessie O’Bourne novel is on the way.

The author saves a few surprises for the end in this enjoyable art mystery.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5238-2911-8

Page Count: 418

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2016

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It’s obvious where all this is going, but Box gets you there, in one of most tightly wound tales, with more thrills than a...

WOLF PACK

Fired after his last colorfully insubordinate outing (The Disappeared, 2018), Wyoming Fish and Game Warden Joe Pickett is back on the job in Twelve Sleep County just in time to follow the trail from a routine misdemeanor to a quartet of hired killers.

Katelyn Hamm, Joe’s counterpart in Shell County, is saddened and angry to see a herd of terrified mule deer fleeing, some to their deaths, from an unregistered drone aircraft that disappears in the direction of Twelve Sleep County. This isn’t the first time locals have spotted the drone, and Katelyn wants Joe to track down its owner. Joe obligingly traces the rogue aircraft to the compound of Bill Hill, who gets him just as furious as Katelyn by freely admitting the offense, crumpling up the citation Joe gives him, refusing to follow him to the sheriff’s office, and assuring Joe that he’ll never have to answer the charge—and that Joe himself will be in trouble if he presses too hard. Trouble promptly arrives in the form of two FBI agents from the nation’s capital who warn first Katelyn, then Joe, off the case, which they consider no big deal compared to the threat against thousands of lives—“maybe tens of thousands….Maybe millions”—they’re handling but refuse to identify. Meanwhile, four professional killers, including a particularly fatal female, are headed to Twelve Sleep County from Arizona, where they’ve just killed their latest target, his wife, and a friend who happened to have stopped by. Squeezed between the feds and the Wolf Pack, a murderous arm of the Sinaloa drug cartel, Joe will himself be targeted, along with Katelyn, the FBI agents, the local sheriff, his wife’s best friend, and his own friend the outlaw falconer Nate Romanowski, for elimination before the killers can move on to their real target.

It’s obvious where all this is going, but Box gets you there, in one of most tightly wound tales, with more thrills than a snowy road on a steep mountain and more authority than the governor of Wyoming.

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53819-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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If you’re in a receptive mood, nobody evokes long postwar shadows or overwhelming postwar grief better than Todd.

A DIVIDED LOYALTY

Inspector Ian Rutledge’s 22nd case revolves around two young women found dead in utterly unexpected places.

Scheduled to give evidence in an ongoing investigation, Rutledge can’t go to the village of Avebury—where a body has been found stabbed to death in the center of a circle of prehistoric stones—in the place of Chief Inspector Brian Leslie when Rutledge’s nemesis, Chief Superintendent Markham, sends Leslie there when he'd been looking forward to a couple of days off. Instead, Rutledge ends up going to the Shropshire village of Tern Bridge, where a woman eventually identified as Bath schoolmistress Serena Palmer has been stabbed and tossed into a grave dug the day before for someone else. After a witness’s unexpectedly keen eye and sharp memory puts Rutledge on a trail that leads with disconcerting suddenness to Serena Palmer’s killer, he’s sent to Avebury after all, since Leslie’s conscientiously thorough inquiries have identified neither the killer nor the victim. This mystery, Rutledge finds, is just as murky as the Shropshire murder was clear, and he despairs that he’ll ever have anything to add to Leslie’s report. Constantly threatened by Markham, who’s still holding the letter of resignation Rutledge submitted to him after his last case (The Black Ascot, 2019, etc.), and intermittently needled by the ghost of Cpl. Hamish McLeod, the corporal he executed in a trench in 1916 when he refused to lead troops into further fighting in the Somme, Rutledge struggles with a case whose every lead—a necklace of lapis lazuli beads, a trove of letters written to the victim—leads him not so much to enlightenment as to ever deepening sadness. The final twist may not surprise eagle-eyed readers, but it will reveal why Todd’s generic-sounding title is painfully apt.

If you’re in a receptive mood, nobody evokes long postwar shadows or overwhelming postwar grief better than Todd.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-290553-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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