The uneven plotting would benefit from tightening, but May’s sense of place is as good as it gets.

I'LL KEEP YOU SAFE

The death of her husband in a car explosion in Paris sends a woman searching for answers in the Hebrides in this expansive thriller.

By land or sea, transport to the Scottish Hebrides can be fiercely turbulent. This latest from prolific May (Coffin Road, 2017, etc.) offers smooth armchair travel to the dramatic and haunting location—and a mostly good mystery. The story begins at a textile fair in Paris as Hebrides natives Niamh and Ruairidh Macfarlane market Ranish tweed, their variation on iconic Harris tweed. Together for 10 years, the couple appear headed to dissolution. When Niamh sees Ruairidh leave their hotel with a woman she suspects is his mistress, she tracks them into the street, where their car explodes, killing both of them. Police initially, but briefly, see the earmarks of terrorism. Soon the investigators abandon that tack, and Niamh returns home to bury the pieces of Ruairidh’s shattered body. Here, May explores the couple’s past lives in a series of richly written, but perhaps discursive, flashbacks that often leave the mystery hanging and turn the work into a novel of two people growing up, courting, and coming together in the remote location. Painful and tragic events and relationships among family and friends become the focus. The characters—Niamh’s parents, a local police investigator, a vicious fashion designer, a childhood friend of Niamh’s who becomes a troubled adult—are animated by May’s sharp, perceptive details. The unraveling of the car bombing is not as fresh or as tight as the wrap-up to cases in some of May’s other works, though most readers will likely find the final revelation startling and satisfying. What remain consistent are May’s keen, perceptive descriptions of the Hebrides, where “jagged black rock…[stands] stubborn against the relentless power of the Atlantic.”

The uneven plotting would benefit from tightening, but May’s sense of place is as good as it gets.

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68144-093-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Mobius

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how...

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THE A LIST

A convicted killer’s list of five people he wants dead runs the gamut from the wife he’s already had murdered to franchise heroine Ali Reynolds.

Back in the day, women came from all over to consult Santa Clarita fertility specialist Dr. Edward Gilchrist. Many of them left his care happily pregnant, never dreaming that the father of the babies they carried was none other than the physician himself, who donated his own sperm rather than that of the handsome, athletic, disease-free men pictured in his scrapbook. When Alexandra Munsey’s son, Evan, is laid low by the kidney disease he’s inherited from his biological father and she returns to Gilchrist in search of the donor’s medical records, the roof begins to fall in on him. By the time it’s done falling, he’s serving a life sentence in Folsom Prison for commissioning the death of his wife, Dawn, the former nurse and sometime egg donor who’d turned on him. With nothing left to lose, Gilchrist tattoos himself with the initials of five people he blames for his fall: Dawn; Leo Manuel Aurelio, the hit man he’d hired to dispose of her; Kaitlyn Todd, the nurse/receptionist who took Dawn’s place; Alex Munsey, whose search for records upset his apple cart; and Ali Reynolds, the TV reporter who’d helped put Alex in touch with the dozen other women who formed the Progeny Project because their children looked just like hers. No matter that Ali’s been out of both California and the news business for years; Gilchrist and his enablers know that revenge can’t possibly be served too cold. Wonder how far down that list they’ll get before Ali, aided once more by Frigg, the methodical but loose-cannon AI first introduced in Duel to the Death (2018), turns on them?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how little the boundary-challenged AI, who gets into the case more or less inadvertently, differs from your standard human sidekick with issues.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5101-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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The loose ends that make this the least satisfactory of Joe’s three cases to date still don’t inhibit Box’s gift for nonstop...

WINTERKILL

The latest in an award-winning series set in the Bighorn Mountains (Savage Run, 2002, etc.).

Minutes after Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett arrests Lamar Gardiner, District Supervisor for the Twelve Sleep National Forest, for firing into a herd of elk, killing seven animals and blindly continuing to reload with cigarettes after he runs out of shells, Gardiner manages to handcuff Joe to his steering wheel and bolt off into a winter storm, only to turn up pinned to a tree with a pair of arrows, his throat cut. And things get even messier from that point on. The attack on a federal agent, together with reports that the Nation of the Rocky Mountain Sovereign Citizens has established an encampment in Twelve Sleep, brings gung-ho US Forest Service investigator Melinda Strickland and FBI sharpshooter Dick Munker, a veteran of Waco and Ruby Ridge, to town. Strickland maintains that she’s just trying to get justice for a murdered official, but she seems awfully eager to tie the perp to the Sovereigns. By the time Joe arrests one of Gardiner’s disappointing killers and identifies the other, Strickland and Munker are already planning an all-out attack on the encampment. The prospect is a personal nightmare for Joe, since Jeannie Keeley, the drifter whose abandoned daughter April Joe and his wife have been trying to adopt, has reclaimed April and spirited her off to the dubious shelter of the Sovereigns.

The loose ends that make this the least satisfactory of Joe’s three cases to date still don’t inhibit Box’s gift for nonstop action and his ability to see every side of the most divisive issues in the West.

Pub Date: May 12, 2003

ISBN: 0-399-15045-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2003

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