An original, often stirring story of unlikely friends attempting to find a bit of justice.



A prep school loner and an angry townie team up to solve a teenage girl’s murder in this debut novel.

In 1962, Alexander “Xander” Gadeski is a freshman at Saint Francis Minor Seminary and Prep School, where he was recently raped by someone, though he does not know who. While cutting through the local cemetery not long after the attack, he meets a local girl, Phaedra Cooper, who is half Seneca, holding vigil over one of the graves. She has promised to avenge her friend Pretty Flower. The girl’s death was ruled a suicide but Phaedra is convinced she was murdered. In fact, Phaedra thinks the killers are students at Saint Francis. “Pretty came to me in a dream,” she explains. “She told me, ‘Look to Saint Francis to solve my puzzle.’ My people don’t take dream visitations lightly. I’ve seen the cruelty behind the eyes of Francis boys. Evil shows itself to the patient watcher.” Xander is alarmed by Phaedra’s intensity, but he can’t help but notice that Pretty Flower died on the same day as his own father. Plus, Phaedra insists that Xander is something called “Skagedi”—an anagram of his last name—though she won’t explain exactly what the label means or where it comes from. Even so, Xander agrees to join forces with Phaedra to discover the murderers. Perhaps Phaedra can help Xander exact his own revenge. Drisgula’s prose manages to be both conversational and moody, creating an appropriately Gothic atmosphere for this often intense novel. At one point, Xander narrates: “I assisted Brother Rose…Brother was protecting me. What he thought he was protecting me from we never discussed. Something had gone terribly wrong with my introduction to Saint Francis, and he was trying to shield me from further harm.” Xander and Phaedra are intricately traumatized, and the girl’s idiosyncrasies allow her to outshine some of the trope-ier aspects of her character. The meeting of ’60s Roman Catholic prep school culture with the lives of Native American townies makes for an intriguing contrast. Readers will be reminded, in a good way, of the novels of Robert Cormier.

An original, often stirring story of unlikely friends attempting to find a bit of justice.

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64544-237-0

Page Count: 328

Publisher: Page Publishing, Inc.

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2020

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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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