Nearly as many victims as cousins. Will anyone be left for the ninth installment?

LAYING BONES

Wortham’s eighth stroll down Lamar County’s Memory Lane traces the fatal aftereffects of a dice game in a bar in a no man’s land the meandering Red River has carved out between Oklahoma and Texas.

Top Parker may have the poisoned gift, but he’s still only 14 in 1969—much too young to be sneaking around the Starlite Club with his cousin Pepper, her Choctaw boyfriend, Mark, Curtis Parker, and Curtis' girlfriend, Sheila Cunningham, while R.B. Parker, another cousin, is rolling the bones inside. In R.B.’s hands, the dice are red-hot, but his lucky streak doesn’t last long enough to get him through the night: He ends up in a creek in his wrecked ’47 Chevy pickup—drowned, according to county coroner Tony Roth.  The suspicions of Top’s grandfather Constable Ned Parker and Top’s uncle, Lamar County Sheriff Cody Parker, already alerted by the fact that $2,000 R.B. won is missing, go into overdrive when the other gamblers in the game start to drop like flies, every one of them, Roth avers, an accidental death. Club owner Buster Rawlins is clearly up to no good, and his minions act as if they’d be happy to kill anyone he asked them to. But the truth about that fatal game lies deeper, though by no means too deep for readers who can comb through the ranks upon ranks of Parker relatives and the psychedelic horrors that are unleashed when Top’s visions are sent into overdrive by an unwitting dose of LSD.

Nearly as many victims as cousins. Will anyone be left for the ninth installment?

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4642-1437-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Poisoned Pen

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Fans of Gardner’s Tessa Leoni, D.D. Warren, and Flora Dane will embrace her new heroine's grit and empathy.

BEFORE SHE DISAPPEARED

Gardner introduces Frankie Elkin, a tough, street-smart survivor who has found her calling searching for missing persons.

Frankie is an alcoholic who considers herself responsible for the death of the man she loved. As penance, she travels around the country, volunteering to locate missing people for whom there may be no new leads. She knows that not everyone believes in her gifts or trusts her motives, but she cannot back down from the opportunity to find answers for these grieving families. When she comes to Boston to investigate the disappearance of Angelique Badeau, she takes a cheap apartment and a bartending job at a scruffy neighborhood bar, sticking out like a sore thumb but determined to make headway in a case that has baffled the police. Teenagers go missing and teenagers run away, but not Angelique. She and her brother survived the earthquake in Haiti to live with their aunt in America, taking advantage of opportunities to work hard and get a good education. Frankie discovers that Angelique is not the only teenage girl to have disappeared in the neighborhood; a few months after her, another girl went missing. This girl’s family, torn apart by gang violence and poverty, may have been reason enough to run away, but Frankie has been around the block enough to know: There are no coincidences. Then Angelique passes a message to her brother: proof of life, but no hint as to where she’s being held. With the help of a ruggedly handsome detective, Frankie digs relentlessly into the case—until people start dying. Now in a race against time, she must discover why these girls have been kidnapped—and why they might be running out of time. Gardner is a pro at writing tough-as-nails, wiseass, broken-yet-steely female characters, and Frankie does not disappoint. Plus, it’s a pretty solid mystery.

Fans of Gardner’s Tessa Leoni, D.D. Warren, and Flora Dane will embrace her new heroine's grit and empathy.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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One protest from an outraged innocent says it all: “This is America. This is Wyoming.”

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LONG RANGE

Once again, Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett gets mixed up in a killing whose principal suspect is his old friend Nate Romanowski, whose attempts to live off the grid keep breaking down in a series of felony charges.

If Judge Hewitt hadn’t bent over to pick up a spoon that had fallen from his dinner table, the sniper set up nearly a mile from his house in the gated community of the Eagle Mountain Club would have ended his life. As it was, the victim was Sue Hewitt, leaving the judge alive and free to rail and threaten anyone he suspected of the shooting. Incoming Twelve Sleep County Sheriff Brendan Kapelow’s interest in using the case to promote his political ambitions and the judge’s inability to see further than his nose make them the perfect targets for a frame-up of Nate, who just wants to be left alone in the middle of nowhere to train his falcons and help his bride, Liv Brannon, raise their baby, Kestrel. Nor are the sniper, the sheriff, and the judge Nate’s only enemies. Orlando Panfile has been sent to Wyoming by the Sinaloan drug cartel to avenge the deaths of the four assassins whose careers Nate and Joe ended last time out (Wolf Pack, 2019). So it’s up to Joe, with some timely data from his librarian wife, Marybeth, to hire a lawyer for Nate, make sure he doesn’t bust out of jail before his trial, identify the real sniper, who continues to take an active role in the proceedings, and somehow protect him from a killer who regards Nate’s arrest as an unwelcome complication. That’s quite a tall order for someone who can’t shoot straight, who keeps wrecking his state-issued vehicles, and whose appalling mother-in-law, Missy Vankeuren Hand, has returned from her latest European jaunt to suck up all the oxygen in Twelve Sleep County to hustle some illegal drugs for her cancer-stricken sixth husband. But fans of this outstanding series will know better than to place their money against Joe.

One protest from an outraged innocent says it all: “This is America. This is Wyoming.”

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53823-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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