An entertaining detective story with a personable lead.

DERAILED

From the A Kelly Pruett Mystery series , Vol. 1

In this mystery, a private investigator is hired to discover whether a woman’s death was really an accident.

Kelly Pruett, 32, inherited her father’s PI business, a small concern in northeast Portland, Oregon, after his recent death. She’s no hard-boiled detective; her work consists of skip tracing, process serving, and the like—until Georgette Hanson walks into her office with a real case to investigate. Her daughter, Brooke, was struck by a train and killed. Police say it was an accident, but Georgette doesn’t believe that. True, Brooke had been drinking, and witness Jay Nightingale reported seeing her stumble, but Georgette’s gut feeling tells her he’s lying. He was close enough to help; why didn’t he? Why was Brooke so far away from the bar she’d left? It sounds shaky, but the case is good money, and Kelly’s father left a letter asking her to help Georgette if she ever needed it. Kelly questions the bartender, the witness, and the train conductor while also dealing with her ex-husband’s desire to either reunite or take full custody of their 8-year-old Deaf daughter. She must uncover tangled lies and dark secrets, some with a personal connection, to avoid winding up a victim herself. In her debut novel, Keliikoa shows how dicey first-time investigation can be, involving readers in the process of judging witness reliability or weighing the significance of clues. Kelly is smart and persistent but makes understandable mistakes as she gains experience. Red herrings and murky hard-to-pin-down motives are deployed well to keep readers guessing. Romance and family conundrums add complications to Kelly’s investigation while also helping to round out her character. The novel doesn’t break any ground, but it’s a solid offering.

An entertaining detective story with a personable lead.

Pub Date: May 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-60381-706-6

Page Count: 232

Publisher: Epicenter Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 30, 2020

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE

In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8272-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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Crave chills and thrills but don’t have time for a King epic? This will do the job before bedtime. Not that you’ll sleep.

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LATER

Horrormeister King follows a boy’s journey from childhood to adolescence among the dead—and their even creepier living counterparts.

Jamie Conklin sees dead people. Not for very long—they fade away after a week or so—but during that time he can talk to them, ask them questions, and compel them to answer truthfully. His uncanny gift at first seems utterly unrelated to his mother Tia’s work as a literary agent, but the links become disturbingly clear when her star client, Regis Thomas, dies shortly after starting work on the newest entry in his bestselling Roanoke Saga, and Tia and her lover, NYPD Detective Liz Dutton, drive Jamie out to Cobblestone Cottage to encourage the late author to dictate an outline of his latest page-turner so that Tia, who’s fallen on hard times, can write it in his name instead of returning his advance and her cut. Now that she’s seen what Jamie can do, Liz takes it on herself to arrange an interview in which Jamie will ask Kenneth Therriault, a serial bomber who’s just killed himself, where he’s stowed his latest explosive device before it can explode posthumously. His post-mortem encounter with Therriault exacts a high price on Jamie, who now finds himself more haunted than ever, though he never gives up on the everyday experiences in which King roots all his nightmares.

Crave chills and thrills but don’t have time for a King epic? This will do the job before bedtime. Not that you’ll sleep.

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7890-9649-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Hard Case Crime

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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