A brisk if uneven thriller peppered with historical detail about Nazi Germany.

THE CONSTANT MAN

A former police detective hunts a serial rapist in Nazi Germany.

Now that he’s identified high-ranking Nazi official Otto Bruck as a serial murderer and rapist in The Good Cop (2019), Munich detective Willi Geismeier has been forced to leave his police job and his home. Still feeling responsible for finding the man who attacked Lola Zeff, he returns secretly to Munich, living under the alias Karl Juncker, to find him. As he does his best to lie low, rising Nazi aggression and internal turmoil repeatedly put Willi’s quest on the back burner. Steiner’s brief chapters create a tapestry of Germany under the rising influence of the Gestapo. Ambitious storm trooper Lt. Walter Kempf arrests fellow Nazi Ernst Röhm for being homosexual as part of a project called Operation Hummingbird. DS Hermann Gruber worries that his wife, Mitzi, is in danger because of her Jewish heritage. Storm trooper Heinz Schleiffer is surprised to find his adult son, Tomas, at a show of “degenerate art” put on by Joseph Goebbels and disturbed to learn that Tomas opposes the Nazis. The intellectual Reinhard Pabst is lukewarm about the Nazi cause but attracted by the power his allegiance to the Führer provides. Willi does have his allies: Lola is anxious for closure, and his landlady, Frau Schimmel, informs him of visitors who come looking for him. His investigation gains traction with the discovery of more victims. All too often, though, Steiner’s cursory attempts to provide a more complex depiction of Germany in this era distract attention from Willi’s pursuit of a serial killer.

A brisk if uneven thriller peppered with historical detail about Nazi Germany.    

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7278-9074-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Severn House

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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Sprawling and only intermittently suspenseful till that last act: below average for this distinguished series.

OCEAN PREY

No oceans in Minnesota, you say? That won’t stop Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers, who are clearly determined to burn through their bucket list on the federal government’s dime.

The murders of three Coast Guard officers chasing a suspicious boat in Florida waters by crooks who set fire to the boat moments after abandoning it send shock waves through the DEA, the FBI, and eventually the U.S. Marshals Service. In short order Lucas and his colleague and pal Bob Matees find themselves on a task force Florida Sen. Christopher Colles convenes to find the drugs the fugitives managed to dump into the Atlantic before they shot their pursuers and arrest everyone in sight. The duo’s modus operandi seems to be to talk to everyone who’s seen anything, and then talk to everyone they’ve mentioned, and so on, taking regular breaks to drink, reminisce, and swap wisecracks. Everything is so relaxed and routine that fans of this long-running series will just know that Sandford has something more up his sleeve, and he does. Eventually the task force’s net widens to make room for Virgil, who, working with Marshal Rae Givens, hires himself out to the criminals as a diver who can retrieve those drugs while Lucas and his allies work their way higher and higher up the food chain of baddies. The cast is enormous and mostly forgettable, but Sandford manages to work up a full head of steam when Lucas realizes that his scorched-earth tactics have put Virgil and Rae in serious danger.

Sprawling and only intermittently suspenseful till that last act: below average for this distinguished series.

Pub Date: April 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-08702-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE

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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