An exceptional series entry with a remarkable private detective and strong supporting characters.

THE LADYKILLERS WAR

FROM THE CASE FILES OF MAX CHRISTIAN, PI

In this fifth installment of a series, a New York City private eye hunts a murderous group targeting newly elected female politicians, including his wife.

Max Christian has supported his wife, Meridew, during her congressional run and eventual triumph, though he’s dreading the New York to Washington, D.C., commute. But the private investigator has good reason to worry after a call from police detective Tina Falcone, his friend and former partner at Manhattan South homicide. Tina tells Max of an active-shooter incident in the Bronx in which the victims were a just-elected congresswoman, her family, and her campaign manager. The shooter, who’s currently in the hospital, had a note indicating he’s a member of an organization that is after “man-hating females” in Congress. Suspecting his wife may be a target, Max enlists the help of Florida-based PI pal Nick Testa, who sends his trusted private detective colleague Ray Peterson to keep an eye on Meridew. Nick, meanwhile, chases a bail jumper, Lanny Griggs, who happens to belong to the same group of domestic terrorists—called the LadyKillers Liberation Army. This band has already murdered another congresswoman, along with her family, considered “collateral damage.” Max, Tina, and Nick gather information and track down other members of the so-called army, who, along with an incel mindset, have a fear of women “taking over the world.” The three detectives, joined by Max’s PI partner, who calls himself Ahab, employ occasionally brutal techniques to get some people to talk. They hope to stop the group as well as its elusive leader, “the Colonel,” before Meridew or any other female politician dies.

Goldman, who wrote the novel with PI Malatesta, offers a sharp and focused series entry. For example, despite numerous characters, who include Nick’s goddaughter, Dani, acting as a bodyguard for another congresswoman, the tale rarely strays from the main plot. As in preceding installments, various conversations dominate the pages. In this case, Max and others are determined to extract intelligence from suspects, which entails such acts as physical abuse and unlawful detainment. But readers won’t likely sympathize with these men or the loathsome statements they brazenly make about women. Standouts in the story’s cast are female characters, particularly Meridew and Tina. The former’s refusal to “hide” or cower from the terrorists isn’t stubborn or reckless; it’s instead sheer tenacity, as she affirms that she represents the people who voted her into office. Similarly, Tina, who’s more by-the-books than Max and Nick, displays an impressive amount of restraint when questioning a suspect who insults her both as a woman and a lesbian. Tina also has some of the best lines, which are indicative of Goldman’s keen dialogue. While complaining about the FBI, she asserts: “These feebs are a bunch of suit-and-tie guys with spit-polished black Florsheims. You’ve seen ’em work—they only move around in pairs, like Siamese twins checking up on each other.” Even if tracking down terrorist suspects involves minimal mystery and investigation, there are still surprises in the final act and ultimate wrap-up.

An exceptional series entry with a remarkable private detective and strong supporting characters.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 260

Publisher: Manuscript

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2020

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A rarity: a police procedural more deeply invested in the victims than either the killer or the police.

ABANDONED IN DEATH

June 2061 is a perilous time for women in a downtown Manhattan neighborhood who happen to resemble a violent kidnapper’s mother.

The killer doesn’t seem to be trying to hide anything except his own identity. Ten days after snatching bartender Lauren Elder from the street as she walked home, he leaves her body, carefully dressed and made up, with even the gash in her throat meticulously stitched up and beribboned, where it’s sure to be found quickly, along with the chilling label “bad mommy.” When Lt. Eve Dallas and Detective Delia Peabody realize that Anna Hobe, a server at a nearby karaoke bar who disappeared a week ago under similar circumstances, was probably another victim of the same perp, the clock begins ticking down even before they learn that assistant marketing manager Mary Kate Covino has gone missing as well. Dallas, Peabody, and the helpers who’ve made Robb’s long-lived franchise even more distinctive than its futuristic setting race to find the women or identify their kidnapper before he reverts once again to the 5-year-old abandoned by his mother many years ago. The emphasis this time is on investigative procedure, forensics (beginning with the Party Girl perfume and the Toot Sweet moisturizer the murderer uses on the corpses of his victims), and the broader danger women in every generation face from men who just can’t grow up.

A rarity: a police procedural more deeply invested in the victims than either the killer or the police.

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-2502-7821-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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Terrifying, primal, and very, very tense. Read it with your heart in your throat—but read it.

ONE STEP TOO FAR

Frankie Elkin, a miraculous finder of missing persons, seeks a man who wandered into the wilderness and was never seen again.

Last seen rescuing a missing teenager from the gritty streets of Boston, Frankie embarks from a bus in Ramsey, Wyoming, drawn in by the story of hiker Timothy O’Day, who's been missing for five years, and the last-gasp efforts of his father, Martin, to search for his remains. Frankie has some regrets about leaving Boston, but she's called to find those others have given up on. She manages to finagle her way on to the search party, which in addition to Martin includes a local guide; a search-and-rescue dog and her handler; a Bigfoot expert; and Tim’s friends, who were in the woods with him when he went missing. In the years since, they’ve moved on with their lives, but they are carrying guilt and secrets about the night Tim disappeared. As they all head into the unforgiving wilderness, it quickly becomes apparent that someone is deeply threatened by this effort to find Tim’s body. As she endeavors to draw the truth from each member of the search party, Frankie can tell that she's in over her head, and not only because she’s an inexperienced outdoorswoman. Could Tim still be alive and looking for revenge, or is there a more dangerous secret that someone would kill to protect? Gardner is incredibly skilled at developing tension and suspense; she’s equally skilled at slowly revealing complex characters and their secrets. Both gifts reinforce each other in this novel. If Frankie is out of her element, so are we: It’s not often that a thriller so deeply casts us into the darkness of both nature and the human heart.

Terrifying, primal, and very, very tense. Read it with your heart in your throat—but read it.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-18541-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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