Satisfyingly doom-and-gloomy, even though many readers will balk at the last round of dark revelations and the last spasm of...

SECOND SKIN

A second dose of murderous troubles that hit all too close to home for Jacksonville homicide detective Daniel Turner and his family.

Daniel’s sister Lillian isn’t the type to let things go. So when Sheneel Greene, one of her favorite students, goes missing, she asks her husband, skip tracer Johnny Bellefleur, to see if he can find her. Johnny demurs, but it wouldn’t have mattered anyway, for Sheneel’s already dead. Since Johnny is another one who doesn’t let things go, he asks Daniel for a peek at Sheneel’s case file, only to hit the first of many brick walls. There’s a file all right, and Daniel shows it to him, but he assures him that there's no case: Sheneel had tried to kill herself three times before, and the fourth time was presumably the charm. There’s even a convenient note in the victim’s own handwriting. Daniel doesn’t seem to care that Sheneel’s body was full of drugs that suicides rarely use or that someone’s cut off her arm with a sharp implement. Not even the death of Sheneel’s half brother, Alex, another very iffy suicide, sways him. So it falls to Johnny, still battling demons from his job bagging combat casualties for the Navy (Blue Avenue, 2014), and his sister to tie the deaths to the villainous Phelps family, whose long history of exploiting North Florida’s resources and locals provides far too many suspects—Edward the monstrous patriarch, his rapacious son, Stephen, their wives and unacknowledged children—each of whom takes a turn in the spotlight before yielding to someone who looks even guiltier. Long before the curtain comes down, Lillian won’t know who on Earth she can trust, and neither will you.

Satisfyingly doom-and-gloomy, even though many readers will balk at the last round of dark revelations and the last spasm of violence that accompanies them.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7278-8534-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Severn House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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You can’t help but chuckle over all the disasters, but in the end the heroine catches her prey.

DRESSED UP 4 MURDER

An Arizona accountant with a penchant for solving murders lands a fishy case.

Sophie "Phee" Kimball might lead a dull life if it weren’t for her mother, Harriet Plunkett, and Harriet’s neurotic Chiweenie, Streetman. As it is, Harriet lives near her daughter in Sun City West and has a wide circle of zany friends who’ve helped Phee solve several mysteries (Molded 4 Murder, 2019, etc.) while she’s been working for Williams Investigations along with her boyfriend, Marshall, a former police officer. While Phee’s visiting Harriet one day, Streetman dashes over to the neighbors’ barbecue grill and unearths a dead body under a tarp. As usual, the overwhelmed local police ask Williams Investigations to help—er, consult. Harriet’s main concern is getting costumes made for the reluctant Streetman, whom she’s entered in a series of contests starting with Halloween and progressing through Thanksgiving, Christmas/Hannukah, and St. Patrick’s Day. One of her friends is an accomplished seamstress who goes all out making gorgeous costumes that will beat an obnoxious lady who looks down on mutts. The dead man is identified as Cameron Tully, a seafood distributor, who was poisoned by the locally ubiquitous sago pine. At the first dog contest, Elaine Meschow has to be rushed to the hospital after she gets a dose of the same thing. The owner of a gourmet dog food company, Elaine is lucky enough to recover. After Streetman takes second place, Harriet’s team redoubles its efforts for the next contest while Phee and Marshall, who are moving into a new place together, continue to hunt for clues. A restaurant holdup and a scheme to use empty houses for hookups for high school kids add to the confusion.

You can’t help but chuckle over all the disasters, but in the end the heroine catches her prey.

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4967-2455-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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An undisciplined but powerfully lacerating story, by an author who knows every block of the neighborhood and every hair on...

MYSTIC RIVER

After five adventures for Boston shamus Patrick Kenzie and his off-again lover Angela Gennaro (Prayers for Rain, 1999, etc.), Lehane tries his hand at a crossover novel that’s as dark as any of Patrick’s cases.

Even the 1975 prologue is bleak. Sean Devine and Jimmy Marcus are playing, or fighting, outside Sean’s parents’ house in the Point neighborhood of East Buckingham when a car pulls up, one of the two men inside flashes a badge, and Sean and Jimmy’s friend Dave Boyle gets bundled inside, allegedly to be driven home to his mother for a scolding but actually to get kidnapped. Though Dave escapes after a few days, he never really outlives his ordeal, and 25 years later it’s Jimmy’s turn to join him in hell when his daughter Katie is shot and beaten to death in the wilds of Pen Park, and State Trooper Sean, just returned from suspension, gets assigned to the case. Sean knows that both Dave and Jimmy have been in more than their share of trouble in the past. And he’s got an especially close eye on Jimmy, whose marriage brought him close to the aptly named Savage family and who’s done hard time for robbery. It would be just like Jimmy, Sean knows, to ignore his friend’s official efforts and go after the killer himself. But Sean would be a lot more worried if he knew what Dave’s wife Celeste knows: that hours after catching sight of Katie in the last bar she visited on the night of her death, Dave staggered home covered with somebody else’s blood. Burrowing deep into his three sorry heroes and the hundred ties that bind them unbearably close, Lehane weaves such a spellbinding tale that it’s easy to overlook the ramshackle mystery behind it all.

An undisciplined but powerfully lacerating story, by an author who knows every block of the neighborhood and every hair on his characters’ heads.

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2001

ISBN: 0-688-16316-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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