A well-paced, topical whodunit.

CRIMES OF DISRESPECT

A debut mystery, set in an Ontario town where high school proves to be murder.

It’s 2006, and Pamela Renard, who’s of Indigenous and White French Canadian heritage, is often bullied on the Mohawk reservation where she lives. She meets an all-new group of bullies when she gets a scholarship to attend Oakville’s prestigious Woodmore Academy. Redheaded Rose Molloy heads up the mean-girl group who mercilessly harass Pamela with racist insults and other verbal abuse. The following year, young janitor Sol Fitzgerald discovers Pamela’s bloody corpse, along with the body of Woodmore board member Ray Havers. The suspects include Sol himself, as he has a troubled past; Rose; and Bobby Havers, who’s Ray’s son and Pamela’s boyfriend. The revelation that Pam was pregnant adds yet another layer to police detective Alison Downey’s investigation. Race plays a big part in the book; Alison feels particular pressure to solve the case as the only Black female detective on her squad, and the author draws on the real-life 2006 Grand River land dispute between Indigenous people and the Canadian government. He also effectively illustrates how such clashes can sow racist ideas in young people’s minds. The book ably addresses social issues, such as teenage sex, drug addiction, and alcoholism. Poverty looms large for many characters; for example, Sol chafes at being a member of a less wealthy class than that of his girlfriend, Tash Harishandra. Throughout, the author succeeds at creating diverse figures who are flawed in minor and sometimes-major ways. The initial mystery is compelling, and a third death, later in the story, only heightens the suspense.

A well-paced, topical whodunit.

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77725-331-8

Page Count: 315

Publisher: Bard Owl Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2021

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Generations may succeed generations, but Sandford’s patented investigation/action formula hasn’t aged a whit. Bring it on.

THE INVESTIGATOR

A domestic-terrorist plot gives the adopted daughter of storied U.S. Marshal Lucas Davenport her moment to shine.

Veteran oilman Vermilion Wright knows that losing a few thousand gallons of crude is no more than an accounting error to his company but could mean serious money to whomever’s found a way to siphon it off from wells in Texas’ Permian Basin. So he asks Sen. Christopher Colles, Chair of Homeland Security and Government Affairs, to look into it, and Colles persuades 24-year-old Letty Davenport, who’s just quit his employ, to return and partner with Department of Homeland Security agent John Kaiser to track down the thieves. The plot that right-winger Jane Jael Hawkes and her confederates, most of them service veterans with disgruntled attitudes and excellent military skills, have hatched is more dire than anything Wright could have imagined. They plan to use the proceeds from the oil thefts to purchase some black-market C4 essential to a major act of terrorism that will simultaneously express their alarm about the country’s hospitality to illegal immigrants and put the Jael-Birds on the map for good. But they haven’t reckoned with Letty, another kid born on the wrong side of the tracks who can outshoot the men she’s paired with and outthink the vigilantes she finds herself facing—and who, along with her adoptive father, makes a memorable pair of “pragmatists. Really harsh pragmatists” willing to do whatever needs doing without batting an eye or losing a night’s sleep afterward.

Generations may succeed generations, but Sandford’s patented investigation/action formula hasn’t aged a whit. Bring it on.

Pub Date: April 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-32868-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2022

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Plenty of pain for the characters, plenty of thrills for the reader.

CITY ON FIRE

A blistering novel filled with anger and bite.

Danny Ryan is a dockworker in Providence, Rhode Island, who’s “faithful like a dog” to his wife, Terri, of the rival Murphy clan, and sometimes does some less-than-legal errands for his father-in-law, John. He wants more out of his life and wants to “not owe nobody nothing,” but nobody ever leaves Dogtown. One day at the beach, he sees “the goddess who came out of the sea” and who “has a voice like sex.” Terri's brother Liam Murphy accidentally-on-purpose touches the woman’s breast, which sets off a chain reaction of events in which bullets fly and f-bombs and their ilk swarm like cicadas on nearly every page. You know, you just don’t touch a made guy’s woman, and the goddess is going out with Paulie Moretti. The Providence press gleefully reports the other-side-of-the-tracks bloodletting among men who supplement their wages with hijacking trucks and boosting heroin. So Danny wants out with his wife and son, but—well, it’s complicated. Chances are they’ll have to live and die in Dogtown. And, oh yeah, Danny loathes his rich mother, who tries so hard to make amends for abandoning him. The characters are as vividly described as some of them are vile: One guy “never met a job he couldn’t lose.” John Murphy is “the king of an empire that died a long time ago. The light of a long-dead star.” At the ocean, Danny observes that the “whitecaps look like the beards of sad old men.” A Murphy declares, “That Ryan blood….It’s cursed.” But the Murphy blood isn’t exactly touched by angels either. And then there are the Morettis, all of them trapped in a cycle of crime and violence, just looking for an excuse to go to war. One difference between Danny and some of the others is he’s never killed anybody. Yet. Meanwhile, a planned heist might just solve some financial problems for whoever survives all the betrayals.

Plenty of pain for the characters, plenty of thrills for the reader.

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-285119-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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