An unapologetic valentine to golden age whodunits that sports its clichés as proudly as badges.


A former prosecutor haunted by his role in the unjust conviction of a murder suspect years ago summons noted attorney Robin Lockwood to his isolated Oregon manse to enlist her aid. What could possibly go wrong?

Archie Stallings was the star witness against fellow student Jose Alvarez in 1990, when Alvarez was sentenced to death in the matter of his girlfriend Margo Prescott's fatal bludgeoning. Seven years later, a gloating confession that Stallings makes to the lawyer defending him against a rape charge, Frank Melville—whose ringing courtroom speech when he was a prosecutor sent Alvarez to death row—torments Melville, since attorney-client privilege demands his silence. Upon Stallings’ own death, Melville resolves to do whatever it takes to win Alvarez’s release. Working under his direction with investigator Ken Breland, Robin gets Alvarez’s conviction overturned, and he’s set free. But he’s not grateful or happy about his invitation to Black Oaks, Melville’s mountaintop retreat, which has its own dark history of murder. When Corey Rockwell, the fading Hollywood star Melville’s invited to join them, ostensibly to discuss making a film based on the Alvarez case, begins to smell a rat, the stage is set for Melville’s stabbing in his private elevator. Margolin steeps this impossible murder in a nostalgic brew of family curses, ancient grudges, escaped convicts, improbable masquerades, supplementary homicides, and other contrivances. Fans will rejoice to detect echoes of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, Ellery Queen’s The Siamese Twin Mystery, and countless puzzles by John Dickson Carr, though they may find the net effect more like a scrapbook of beloved memories than a coherent narrative of contemporary murder.

An unapologetic valentine to golden age whodunits that sports its clichés as proudly as badges.

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-2502-5846-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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One of the most successful of Box’s increasingly ambitious have-it-all thrillers.


The Wyoming winter brings maverick game warden Joe Pickett poachers, murderers, spies, and some ferocious bad weather.

Seeking a wounded elk and a marauding wolf during a brutal snowstorm, Joe is amazed to discover a human corpse sticking halfway out of a metal outbuilding on the Double Diamond ranch. While he’s conscientiously photographing the crime scene, somebody starts shooting at him. Ranch foreman Clay Hutmacher refuses to say anything about the building’s purpose until he checks with billionaire ranch owner Michael Thompson; Gov. Colter Allen abruptly orders Joe off the case; and departing Twelve Sleep County Sheriff Scott Tibbs, the boss who’d do anything to avoid having Joe make waves, reports that there’s no body at the place he described. Meanwhile, Joe’s old friend Nate Romanowski, an outlaw falconer, is approached by ex–Army Ranger Jason Demo, who’s trying to attract anti-government malcontents to join the secessionist Sovereign Nation, and Joe realizes that his predatory mother-in-law, Missy, is neglecting her fifth or sixth husband, attorney Marcus Hand, who’s dying of pancreatic cancer, to cozy up to Allen, who plans to launch his campaign for reelection at the public library headed by Joe’s wife, Marybeth. What does the death of University of Wyoming engineering professor Zhang Wei, if that’s really who the dead man was, have to do with all of this malfeasance? Like a patient spider, Box plays out plotline after plotline, balancing his sympathies adroitly between anti-establishment libertarians who’ve had enough of the coastal elites and officers sworn to serve and protect their communities, before knotting them all together with a climactic revelation that for better or worse will leave you gasping.

One of the most successful of Box’s increasingly ambitious have-it-all thrillers.

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2023

ISBN: 9780593331309

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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A compelling take on the classic whodunit.

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The shocking murder of a public figure at a high-end hotel has everyone guessing who the culprit might be.

Twenty-five-year-old Molly Gray, an eccentric young woman who's obsessed with cleaning but doesn't quite have the same ability to navigate social cues as those around her, loves working as a maid at the Regency Grand Hotel. Raised by her old-fashioned grandmother, who loved nothing more than cleaning and watching Columbo reruns, Molly has an overly polite and straightforward manner that can make her seem odd and off-putting to her colleagues despite her being the hardest worker at the hotel. After her grandmother's death, Molly's rigid life begins to lose some of its long-held balance, and when the infamous Mr. Charles Black, a rich and powerful businessman suspected of various criminal enterprises, is found murdered in one of the rooms she cleans, her whole world gets turned upside down. Before Molly knows what's happening, her odd demeanor has the police convinced she's guilty of the crime, and certain people at the hotel are a little too pleased about it. With the help of a few new friends (and while fending off new foes), she must begin to untangle the mystery of who really killed Mr. Black to get herself off the hook once and for all. Though the unusual ending might frustrate some readers, this unique debut will keep them reading.

A compelling take on the classic whodunit.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35615-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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