This well-executed sequel with a striking detective demands a third installment.

ROAD KILL

In this novel, a “mundane” hit-and-run case has mess written all over it for a down-but-not-out private investigator.

Sidney Reed was once considered Alaska’s best private detective. But after life dealt him “a shitty hand,” he finds himself living in a dingy apartment above a downtown Anchorage coffee shop and is no longer on noted criminal defense attorney Eddie Baker’s “A” list of investigators. But Eddie’s in a bind and needs Sidney to help him with the politically sensitive hit-and-run that claimed the life of the son of a prominent Native leader. Eddie’s client, Rudy Skinner, was in prison for another offense and was ratted out by his cellmate, who claimed Rudy confessed the crime to him. But Eddie promises the case will be “nothing too intense.” Sidney is reluctant to take the assignment: He is still haunted by the death of his beloved wife, Molly, who by all official accounts chose suicide. Sidney needs answers. “She’s not coming back,” says his psychiatrist. “The sooner you come to grips with that, the sooner you can get on with your life.” His life could end sooner than expected, as his investigation leads him to the Cooley family, which is well known to anyone who works in the Alaska legal system. Let’s just say that things start breaking bad for Sidney. Norgard’s second Sidney Read novel achieves what a good sequel should. It gives the protagonist a case that will further test his acumen while moving his personal story forward—with a budding relationship with reporter Maria Maldonado—and setting up a possible full reckoning with Molly’s death. The author makes effective use of the Anchorage setting; suffice to say, Sam Spade never had his car totaled by an errant moose. Norgard avoids some clichés of PI fiction, such as the obligatory hostility from the local police, but indulges in others, like the overly talkative (albeit, surprisingly soulful) villain in the otherwise tautly wrought climax.

This well-executed sequel with a striking detective demands a third installment.

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-947504-30-1

Page Count: 346

Publisher: Bird Dog Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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Enjoyable storytelling by two masters of the craft.

22 SECONDS

Lindsay Boxer faces a ton of trouble in the latest entry in Patterson and Paetro’s Women’s Murder Club series.

Senior crime reporter Cindy Thomas is writing a biography of Evan Burke, a notorious serial killer who sits in solitary confinement in San Quentin. She’s kidnapped by thugs wanting her to talk about her best friend, Lindsay Boxer, who’s an SFPD homicide detective and the story’s main character. San Francisco has a restrictive new gun law, and gun-totin’ folks everywhere have their boxer shorts in a twist. A national resistance movement has formed—Defenders of the Second—whose motto is “We will not comply.” They find it outrageous that the new law makes it illegal to own a gun that can kill 50 people with a single clip. Meanwhile, lots of bodies show up: A young girl disappears and is later found dead in a ditch, and ex-cops are found dead with their lips stapled shut and “You talk, you die” written on their foreheads. An inmate is found hanged in prison. And “a massive but unspecified load of military-style weaponry was en route from Mexico to the City by the Bay.” In a “frustrating, multipronged case,” there’s a harrowing shootout memorialized in a video showing “twenty-two of the scariest seconds” of Boxer’s life. She’s an appealing series hero with loving family and friends, but she may arrive at a crossroads where she has “to choose between my work and [my] baby girl.” The formulaic story has unmemorable writing, but it’s entertaining and well told. You probably won’t have to worry about the main characters, who have thus far survived 21 adventures. Except for the little girl, you can expect people to get what they deserve. It's relatively mild as crime novels go, but the women characters are serious, strong, and admirable.

Enjoyable storytelling by two masters of the craft.

Pub Date: May 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-49937-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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Top-drawer crime fiction. The authors are tough on the hero, but the hero is tough.

THE RED BOOK

Patterson and Ellis put their characters through hell in this hard-edged second installment of their Black Book series after The Black Book (2017).

A young girl is one of four people gunned down in a “very, very bad” K-Town drive-by shooting in Chicago. Police are under intense political pressure to solve it, so Detective Billy Harney is assigned to the Special Operations Section to put the brakes on the gang violence on the West Side. His new partner is Detective Carla Griffin, whom colleagues describe as “sober as an undertaker” and “as fun as a case of hemorrhoids.” And she looks like the last thing he needs, a pill popper. (But is she?) Department muckety-mucks want Harney to fail, and Griffin is supposed to spy on him. The poor guy already has a hell of a backstory: His daughter died and his wife committed suicide (or did she?) four years earlier, he’s been shot in the head, charged with murder (and exonerated), and helped put his own father in prison. (Nothing like a tormented hero!) Now the deaths still haunt him while he and Griffin begin to suspect they’re not looking at a simple turf war starring the Imperial Gangster Nation. Meanwhile, the captain in Internal Affairs is deep in the pocket of some bad guys who run an international human trafficking ring, and he loathes Harney. The protagonist is lucky to have Patti, his sister and fellow detective, as his one reliable friend who lets him know he’s being set up. The authors do masterful work creating flawed characters to root for or against, and they certainly pile up the troubles for Billy Harney. Abundant nasty twists will hold readers’ rapt attention in this dark, violent, and fast-moving thriller.

Top-drawer crime fiction. The authors are tough on the hero, but the hero is tough.

Pub Date: March 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-49940-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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