A companionable mob tale, enjoyably unserious and dramatically immersive.


A Bostonian relocates to Las Vegas and becomes the prime suspect in the murder of an organized crime boss in this novel.

Massimo “Max” Rossi visits Vegas “for a friend’s bachelor party and wedding” but decides to stay for months, intoxicated by the city’s glamorous bustle and its endless supply of showgirls. Local mobsters take note of Max’s extended stay disapprovingly—his father is a “fixer” in Boston, a man whose job is to “make things go away,” and whose clientele largely comprises members of the Mafia. Insistent on staying put, Max is invited to participate in an exclusive, high-stakes poker game by Frank “Fingers” Abbandandolo, attended by Joe “The Barber” Bilotti, a coarse, angry crime kingpin perpetually on the hunt for conflict. Joe assaults his girlfriend, Jeanie Gardner, a Copa dancer, a stroke of ungentlemanly violence too much for Max to bear. Max knocks out Joe and leaves with a stunned Jeanie. Max expects some kind of fallout—one can’t simply attack a made man—but is astonished the next day when he learns that Joe is dead and Jeanie has disappeared. Papa conjures an enticingly dramatic predicament for Max—he’s now the quarry of both the police and the mob, compelled to find Jeanie in order to clear his name before he’s either arrested or murdered. Max is something of a cliché—a chapeau-donning lover of showgirls and meatballs: “I was Italian after all. I took a pledge to love the church, my mother, and a good meatball; I was a sucker for a good meatball.” Still, the author delivers a lighthearted version of pulp-fiction detective noir: plenty of violent action, suspense, and witty one-liners without the nihilistic moral elements.

A companionable mob tale, enjoyably unserious and dramatically immersive.

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73440-573-6

Page Count: 226

Publisher: STACGroup LLC

Review Posted Online: April 2, 2020

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

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In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8272-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 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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