An unyielding private investigator who unravels a mystery, and takes out criminal organizations in the interim.


The Quest for Asian Sin

In this debut thriller, a retired sheriff’s search for a missing ex-porn star leads to corrupt individuals with their hands in all sorts of illicit deeds—including murder.

Former cop Lt. Jack Conner only got his private eye license on the advice of lawyers who’d hired him for legal investigations. But he puts it to use when, while vacationing in San Diego, he spots an article on the unexplained disappearance of former porn star Asian Sin. Named Sara Jones by her adoptive parents, the missing woman sparks a memory of Xiu Tang, a Chinese medical student whom years ago teenaged Jack had loved. He’s determined to find Asian, first on his own but later with allies he steadily gathers, like adult bookstore owner Bill Parker, sharing Jack’s belief that Asian didn’t vanish willingly. Jack will need all the help he can get, as his probe turns up various criminal activities, from kidnappings to drug running. It’s perhaps no surprise when a few thugs rough him up, because his case threatens to expose any number of baddies. At the same time, he may have something for Keeley Nu, a lawyer for the adult film company that had signed Asian. He is, however, conflicted, a divorcé who falls in love too quickly but can’t quite commit as strongly to a woman as he does to investigative work. Lemley’s book has the earmarks of a detective story; Jack even gets a paycheck, eventually signing an agreement with Asian’s attorney, Dallas Xiao Xu, to protect their mutual exchange of information. But while there’s mystery and plenty of twists (especially character links), there are likewise signs of espionage. Jack faces gangsters, conducts surveillance outside the United States, and occasionally dodges bullets with capable pals, most notably Dan, Dallas’ driver who’s more than he seems. Tracking down Asian, though, is the main plot and never falters, and despite the bevy of bad guys and ensuing false leads (concerning the missing woman), the tale’s not convoluted. Jack’s not the most likable protagonist: he beds a few women, notwithstanding his apparent love for Keeley. Such a flaw makes him engrossing, and he furthermore acknowledges his womanizing, but it certainly doesn’t earn him sympathy.

An unyielding private investigator who unravels a mystery, and takes out criminal organizations in the interim.

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5245-2568-2

Page Count: 340

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2016

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One protest from an outraged innocent says it all: “This is America. This is Wyoming.”

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Once again, Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett gets mixed up in a killing whose principal suspect is his old friend Nate Romanowski, whose attempts to live off the grid keep breaking down in a series of felony charges.

If Judge Hewitt hadn’t bent over to pick up a spoon that had fallen from his dinner table, the sniper set up nearly a mile from his house in the gated community of the Eagle Mountain Club would have ended his life. As it was, the victim was Sue Hewitt, leaving the judge alive and free to rail and threaten anyone he suspected of the shooting. Incoming Twelve Sleep County Sheriff Brendan Kapelow’s interest in using the case to promote his political ambitions and the judge’s inability to see further than his nose make them the perfect targets for a frame-up of Nate, who just wants to be left alone in the middle of nowhere to train his falcons and help his bride, Liv Brannon, raise their baby, Kestrel. Nor are the sniper, the sheriff, and the judge Nate’s only enemies. Orlando Panfile has been sent to Wyoming by the Sinaloan drug cartel to avenge the deaths of the four assassins whose careers Nate and Joe ended last time out (Wolf Pack, 2019). So it’s up to Joe, with some timely data from his librarian wife, Marybeth, to hire a lawyer for Nate, make sure he doesn’t bust out of jail before his trial, identify the real sniper, who continues to take an active role in the proceedings, and somehow protect him from a killer who regards Nate’s arrest as an unwelcome complication. That’s quite a tall order for someone who can’t shoot straight, who keeps wrecking his state-issued vehicles, and whose appalling mother-in-law, Missy Vankeuren Hand, has returned from her latest European jaunt to suck up all the oxygen in Twelve Sleep County to hustle some illegal drugs for her cancer-stricken sixth husband. But fans of this outstanding series will know better than to place their money against Joe.

One protest from an outraged innocent says it all: “This is America. This is Wyoming.”

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53823-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.


Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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