No great shakes as a detective story, but fans needn’t worry: Lupica has Parker’s formula down to a turn.



A second reincarnation for Sunny Randall, the Boston private eye who just can’t seem to walk away from organized crime once and for all.

Prostitution czar Tony Marcus has no reason to trust Sunny, who double-crossed him on a recent deal (Robert B. Parker’s Blood Feud, 2018, etc.) in which he didn’t get the illegal guns she’d promised him for saving the life of Desmond Burke, her ex-husband Richie’s equally mobbed-up father. But she definitely owes Tony one, and he has no hesitation about calling in the marker by asking her to track down Lisa Morneau, who rose through the ranks from sex worker to supervisor to become Tony’s chief operating officer, his second brain, and bedmate. He doesn’t want to make Lisa do anything, he insists; he just wants to talk to her and ask why she left him. Though she’s skeptical about that claim and more generally reluctant to take another dip in Tony’s foul pool, Sunny finds herself drawn to a search for a woman who actually wielded considerable power in the boys-only club of Boston’s crime families. The only problems are that Richie’s more recent ex, Kathryn, has just blown into town with an adorable 6-year-old son who throws Sunny considerably off balance and that agreeing to take on Tony’s job doesn’t get her anywhere. The main response of Tony’s aspiring rival Gabriel Jabari, who runs a place called Suite and wants to run a whole lot more, is to smile evilly and offer to hire Sunny himself. And Callie Harden, the friend and former co-worker of Lisa’s who agrees to meet with Sunny, gets shot to death after revealing very little about the missing woman. Sunny’s convinced that both Tony and Jabari are holding back vital information and lying to her, and she’s right on all counts. Will Lisa Morneau survive long enough for Sunny to put together the pieces?

No great shakes as a detective story, but fans needn’t worry: Lupica has Parker’s formula down to a turn.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53932-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: tomorrow

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Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.


Thriller writer Baldacci (A Minute to Midnight, 2019, etc.) launches a new detective series starring World War II combat vet Aloysius Archer.

In 1949, Archer is paroled from Carderock Prison (he was innocent) and must report regularly to his parole officer, Ernestine Crabtree (she’s “damn fine-looking”). Parole terms forbid his visiting bars or loose women, which could become a problem. Trouble starts when businessman Hank Pittleman offers Archer $100 to recover a ’47 Cadillac that’s collateral for a debt owed by Lucas Tuttle, who readily agrees he owes the money. But Tuttle wants his daughter Jackie back—she’s Pittleman’s girlfriend, and she won’t return to Daddy. Archer finds the car, but it’s been torched. With no collateral to collect, he may have to return his hundred bucks. Meanwhile, Crabtree gets Archer the only job available, butchering hogs at the slaughterhouse. He’d killed plenty of men in combat, and now he needs peace. The Pittleman job doesn’t provide that peace, but at least it doesn’t involve bashing hogs’ brains in. People wind up dead and Archer becomes a suspect. So he noses around and shows that he might have the chops to be a good private investigator, a shamus. This is an era when gals have gams, guys say dang and keep extra Lucky Strikes in their hatbands, and a Lady Liberty half-dollar buys a good meal. The dialogue has a '40s noir feel: “And don’t trust nobody.…I don’t care how damn pretty they are.” There’s adult entertainment at the Cat’s Meow, cheap grub at the Checkered Past, and just enough clichés to prove that no one’s highfalutin. Readers will like Archer. He’s a talented man who enjoys detective stories, won’t keep ill-gotten gains, and respects women. All signs suggest a sequel where he hangs out a shamus shingle.

Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5387-5056-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2019

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Great storytelling about the pursuit of extrajudicial justice.


Ninth in the author’s Gray Man series (Mission Critical, 2019, etc.) in which “the most elite assassin in the world” has his hands full.

Ex–CIA Agent Courtland Gentry (the Gray Man) has Serbian war criminal Ratko Babic in his gun sight, but when he decides instead to kill the old beast face to face, he uncovers a massive sex-slavery ring. “I don’t get off on this,” the Gray Man lies to the reader as he stabs a sentry. “I only kill bad people.” Of course he does. If there weren’t an endless supply of them to slay, he’d have little reason to live. Now, countless young Eastern European women are being lured into sexual slavery and fed into an international pipeline, sold worldwide through “the Consortium.” Bad guys refer to their captives as products, not people. They are “merchandise,” but their plight haunts the Gray Man, so of course he is going to rescue as many women as he can. The road to their salvation will be paved with the dead as he enlists a team of fighters to strike the enemy, which includes a South African dude who is giddy for the chance to meet and kill the Gray Man. Meanwhile, Europol analyst Talyssa Corbu meets the hero while on a personal mission to rescue her sister. “You don’t seem like a psychopath,” she tells him. Indeed, though he could play one on TV. Corbu and her sister are tough and likable characters while the director of the Consortium leads a double life as family man and flesh merchant. Human trafficking is an enormous real-life problem, so it’s satisfying to witness our larger-than-life protagonist put his combat skills to good use. There will be a sequel, of course. As a friend tells the wounded Gentry at the end, he’ll be off killing bozos again before he knows it.

Great storytelling about the pursuit of extrajudicial justice.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09891-2

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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