Koenig’s second is a breathless dash from start to finish. Tough, prickly Julia is a noir heroine sure to take a prominent...

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SOUTH OF NOWHERE

A woman with a rough past and an iffy future fights inner and outer demons.

Back in California, Julia Kalas laundered money for her husband. When he was killed by the Aryan Brotherhood, the witness protection program sent her to Azula, Texas. Kicked out of the program during her last adventure (Nine Days, 2014), she nominally works in the bar owned by her lover, Hector Guerra, but her main interest is renovating old buildings. Trouble comes her way when she finds a body under the floor of her most recent renovation job. Nine months earlier, Hector had taken off for Cuba with ex-sheriff John Maines, a private investigator who returned alone and now wants Julia to help him trace a woman who’s gone missing in Mexico, where she went for lap-band surgery. Since Julia’s on the chubby side, she’s perfect to go to the clinic as a prospective patient. She refuses to help until Police Chief Benny Ramirez starts looking at her as a suspect in the case of the dead body on her job. Though she’s worried because she blanks out and loses moments of time—her doctor wants her to see a shrink for possible PTSD—she takes off with John, his dog, and all her money, planning on losing herself in Mexico. Once she has a chance to look the clinic over, it’s clear something’s very wrong there. The missing girl may be just one of many murder victims, a series of crimes ignored by the government. Back in Azula, Julia makes the Most Wanted list, and things get a lot worse in border country, where it's impossible to know whom to trust. She discovers that Hector is back from Cuba, Maines is almost killed, and her past catches up to her in a meeting with the alcoholic Apache mother she hasn’t seen in years. Julia faces death on a daily basis as she attempts to get answers to many questions.

Koenig’s second is a breathless dash from start to finish. Tough, prickly Julia is a noir heroine sure to take a prominent place among female detectives.

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-250-05195-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how...

THE A LIST

A convicted killer’s list of five people he wants dead runs the gamut from the wife he’s already had murdered to franchise heroine Ali Reynolds.

Back in the day, women came from all over to consult Santa Clarita fertility specialist Dr. Edward Gilchrist. Many of them left his care happily pregnant, never dreaming that the father of the babies they carried was none other than the physician himself, who donated his own sperm rather than that of the handsome, athletic, disease-free men pictured in his scrapbook. When Alexandra Munsey’s son, Evan, is laid low by the kidney disease he’s inherited from his biological father and she returns to Gilchrist in search of the donor’s medical records, the roof begins to fall in on him. By the time it’s done falling, he’s serving a life sentence in Folsom Prison for commissioning the death of his wife, Dawn, the former nurse and sometime egg donor who’d turned on him. With nothing left to lose, Gilchrist tattoos himself with the initials of five people he blames for his fall: Dawn; Leo Manuel Aurelio, the hit man he’d hired to dispose of her; Kaitlyn Todd, the nurse/receptionist who took Dawn’s place; Alex Munsey, whose search for records upset his apple cart; and Ali Reynolds, the TV reporter who’d helped put Alex in touch with the dozen other women who formed the Progeny Project because their children looked just like hers. No matter that Ali’s been out of both California and the news business for years; Gilchrist and his enablers know that revenge can’t possibly be served too cold. Wonder how far down that list they’ll get before Ali, aided once more by Frigg, the methodical but loose-cannon AI first introduced in Duel to the Death (2018), turns on them?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how little the boundary-challenged AI, who gets into the case more or less inadvertently, differs from your standard human sidekick with issues.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5101-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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A twisty slow burner by an author at the top of her game.

THE LOST MAN

A timely novel set in the furthest reaches of Australia by the author of The Dry (2017) and Force of Nature (2018).

The three Bright brothers are the overseers of 3,500 square kilometers of land in Queensland, with hours between each of their homes. It’s a vast, unforgiving environment, and no one ever goes far without a full complement of supplies. When 40-year-old Cameron sets out on his own, ostensibly to fix a repeater mast, he never comes home. His body is eventually spotted, via helicopter, curled up by the stockman’s grave, the source of plentiful, and persistent, local ghost stories. Cam’s older brother, Nathan, and their baby brother, Bub, are as perplexed as the cop who’s come all the way from Brisbane to investigate. What was Cam doing by the grave, and what was his Land Cruiser doing nine kilometers away, still fully stocked with supplies, with the keys left neatly on the front seat? The Brights' mother, Liz, is devastated, and Cam has also left behind his wife, Ilse, and two young daughters, Sophie and Lo. They’re pragmatic folks, though, and there’s a funeral to be planned, plus Christmas is just around the corner. Everyone seems to assume that Cam took his own life, but Nathan isn’t so sure, and there’s a strange dynamic in Cam's home that he can’t put his finger on. Cam had been acting strangely in the weeks before his death, too. But Nathan’s got his own problems. He’s eager to reconnect with his teenage son, Xander, who's visiting from Brisbane, and he has a complicated history with Ilse. In the days leading up to the funeral, family secrets begin to surface, and Nathan realizes he never really knew his brother at all. Harper’s masterful narrative places readers right in the middle of a desolate landscape that’s almost as alien as the moon’s surface, where the effects of long-term isolation are always a concern. The mystery of Cam’s death is at the dark heart of an unfolding family drama that will leave readers reeling, and the final reveal is a heartbreaker.

A twisty slow burner by an author at the top of her game.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-10568-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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