A companionable mob tale, enjoyably unserious and dramatically immersive.

MAXIMUM ROSSI

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 smart summer escape.

PORTRAIT OF AN UNKNOWN WOMAN

Silva’s latest Gabriel Allon novel is a bit of a throwback—in the best possible way.

One-time assassin and legendary spymaster Gabriel Allon has finally retired. After saying farewell to his friends and colleagues in Israel, he moves with his wife, Chiara, and their two young children to a piano nobile overlooking Venice’s Grand Canal. His plan is to return to the workshop where he learned to restore paintings as an employee—but only after he spends several weeks recovering from the bullet wound that left him dead for several minutes in The Cellist (2021). Of course, no one expects Gabriel to entirely withdraw from the field, and, sure enough, a call from his friend and occasional asset Julian Isherwood sends him racing around the globe on the trail of art forgers who are willing to kill to protect their extremely lucrative enterprise. Silva provides plenty of thrills and, as usual, offers a glimpse into the lifestyles of the outrageously wealthy. In the early books in this series, it was Gabriel’s work as an art restorer that set him apart from other action heroes, and his return to that world is the most rewarding part of this installment. It is true that, at this point in his storied career, Gabriel has become a nearly mythic figure. And Silva is counting on a lot of love—and willing suspension of disbelief—when Gabriel whips up four old master canvases that fool the world’s leading art experts as a lure for the syndicate selling fake paintings. That said, as Silva explains in an author’s note, the art market is rife with secrecy, subterfuge, and wishful thinking, in no small part because it is almost entirely unregulated. And, if anyone can crank out a Titian, a Tintoretto, a Gentileschi, and a Veronese in a matter of days, it’s Gabriel Allon. The author’s longtime fans may breathe a sigh of relief that this entry is relatively free of politics and the pandemic is nowhere in sight.

A smart summer escape.

Pub Date: July 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-283485-0

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Harper

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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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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