A modest style of writing paves the way for bold characters and a swift narrative cadence.


The apparent murder of a recovering alcoholic leads police to suspect the dead man’s Alcoholics Anonymous sponsee.

Harmon Hesse is found dead with his wrists slit, an apparent suicide, but detectives think someone may have done the cutting for him. Fellow AA-attendee Daniel McBride is the cops’ top suspect. Harmon had been Daniel’s sponsor in the recovery program, but their relationship soured.  A confrontation between the two was witnessed; Daniel believed that Harmon had killed his dog. But the icing on the cake? Some of Harmon’s blood is found in Daniel’s car. The police arrest Daniel, who has a mountain of evidence stacked against him. Jensen’s book opens in full throttle—by page three, someone’s been accused of murder. The novel then focuses on the repercussions of the murder and ensuing investigation rather than on the actual investigation. Detective Carmen Sanchez spends more time dating Daniel’s houseguest, Ben, than gathering information. Daniel’s wife, Helen, seems solely concerned about the case’s affect on her run for mayor. And attorney Albert Ramirez has no interest in proving Daniel’s innocence. Jensen lets the pages smolder with secrets—Helen’s possibly having an affair; Lenny, Daniel’s best friend and business partner, is clearly hiding something; and the mysterious witness prepped to testify for the DA doesn’t seem to be motivated by the prospect of serving justice. The author’s prose is simple in its narration, which keeps the plot and pages turning. He also throws in a number of standout scenes, including Daniel’s interrogation, where the man—sans a lawyer—holds a policeman’s gaze, coolly smokes a cigarette and answers not a single question. The final chapter is little more than a wrap-up.

A modest style of writing paves the way for bold characters and a swift narrative cadence.

Pub Date: July 5, 2012

ISBN: 978-1475175486

Page Count: 368

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2012

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A bracing test of the maxim that “the department always comes first. The department always wins.”

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Meet today’s LAPD, with both good and bad apples reduced to reacting to crimes defensively instead of trying to prevent them, unless of course they’re willing to break the rules.

New Year’s Eve 2020 finds Detective Renée Ballard, survivor of rape and Covid-19, partnered with Detective Lisa Moore, of Hollywood’s Sexual Assault Unit, in search of leads on the Midnight Men, a tag team of rapists who assaulted women on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve without leaving any forensic evidence behind. The pair are called to the scene of a shooting that would have gone to West Bureau Homicide if the unit weren’t already stretched to the limit, a case that should be handed over to West Bureau ASAP. But Ballard gets her teeth into the murder of body shop owner Javier Raffa, who reportedly bought his way out of the gang Las Palmas. The news that Raffa’s been shot by the same weapon that killed rapper Albert Lee 10 years ago sends Ballard once more to Harry Bosch, the poster boy for retirements that drive the LAPD crazy. Both victims had taken on silent partners in order to liquidate their debts, and there’s every indication that the partners were linked. That’s enough for Ballard and Bosch to launch a shadow investigation even as Ballard, abandoned by Moore, who’s flown the coop for the weekend, works feverishly to identify the Midnight Men on her own. As usual in this stellar series, the path to the last act is paved with false leads, interdepartmental squabbles, and personal betrayals, and the structure sometimes sways in the breeze. But no one who follows Ballard and Bosch to the end will be disappointed.

A bracing test of the maxim that “the department always comes first. The department always wins.”

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-48564-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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Slow moving and richly layered.


A retired cop takes one last case in this stand-alone novel from the creator of the Dublin Murder Squad.

Originally from North Carolina, Cal Hooper has spent the last 30 years in Chicago. “A small place. A small town in a small country”: That’s what he’s searching for when he moves to the West of Ireland. His daughter is grown, his wife has left him, so Cal is on his own—until a kid named Trey starts hanging around. Trey’s brother is missing. Everyone believes that Brendan has run off just like his father did, but Trey thinks there’s more to the story than just another young man leaving his family behind in search of money and excitement in the city. Trey wants the police detective who just emigrated from America to find out what’s really happened to Brendan. French is deploying a well-worn trope here—in fact, she’s deploying a few. Cal is a new arrival to an insular community, and he’s about to discover that he didn’t leave crime and violence behind when he left the big city. Cal is a complex enough character, though, and it turns out that the mystery he’s trying to solve is less shocking than what he ultimately discovers. French's latest is neither fast-paced nor action-packed, and it has as much to do with Cal’s inner life as it does with finding Brendan. Much of what mystery readers are looking for in terms of action is squeezed into the last third of the novel, and the morally ambiguous ending may be unsatisfying for some. But French’s fans have surely come to expect imperfect allegiance to genre conventions, and the author does, ultimately, deliver plenty of twists, shocking revelations, and truly chilling moments.

Slow moving and richly layered.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-73-522465-0

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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