A well-paced, satisfying page-turner with an underlying dystopian concept that should keep readers awake at night.

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A Manuscript to Die For

A murder mystery presents a provocative hypothesis that should increase the ranks of conspiracy theorists.

The body of Henry Benson, an assistant editor in a small publishing house, is found on West 32nd Street in New York City, and Homicide Detective Kevin Reilly knows from the brutality of the slaying that this is no ordinary mugging. Benson’s head was smashed by a shovel: “Someone had…delivered world class crushing blows that pureed Henry’s skull between the weapon and the unforgiving concrete.” This was a revenge killing. All Reilly has to do is figure out who could have hated Henry this much. The detective’s search takes him into the back rooms of the publishing world, which sets up an indictment of the industry as a whole that should sound familiar to many aspiring authors. Within days, Reilly rushes out to Los Angeles, where a similar murder has taken place. This time, it is low-budget movie producer Murray Kantwell who has met the business end of a shovel. Cue in a secondary indictment, this one of the film industry. Both cases involve an intriguing manuscript by an unknown author. Reilly continues to follow the trail to San Francisco, where he finds himself the target of a pair of assassins in a supercharged motorcycle chase through the winding streets and dramatic hills of the city. The danger continues when he returns to New York. This is an action-packed thriller with a chilling premise that is more threatening than simple murder. Quinn (The Secrets of a Substitute Teacher, 2014, etc.) occasionally inserts indulgent descriptions (“Los Angeles sprawled like a platter” of low-rise hors d’oeuvres “across the miles between the sea and the surrounding hills”), but he also displays a superb sense of the rhythm of language. He can punctuate his settings with pithy, staccato observations: “The computer was on, the fireplace wasn’t.” Dialogue is usually pleasantly terse, in the familiar style of the detective genre. The few date references in the text indicate a possible 1980s time frame.

A well-paced, satisfying page-turner with an underlying dystopian concept that should keep readers awake at night. 

Pub Date: July 20, 2000

ISBN: 978-1-58500-601-4

Page Count: 244

Publisher: 1st Book Library

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2016

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

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LONG RANGE

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.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

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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