A moody, white-knuckle murder tale with an incisive, blunt hero.

CITY OF STONES

A DETECTIVE MATT JONES THRILLER: BOOK 4

From the Detective Matt Jones series , Vol. 4

A Los Angeles police detective looks into the brutal slaying of a journalist and his family in this fourth installment of a thriller series.

After investigating a serial killer case, Detective Matt Jones is on medical leave, dodging reporters. Surprisingly, journalist Ryan Brooks simply wants Matt’s advice on a story, though he won’t go into details on the phone. When Matt arrives at Brooks’ home for a meeting, the detective discovers the journalist, his wife, and their infant daughter viciously murdered. Both Matt’s supervisor and the feds who snatch the case believe the killer is a psychopath without a motive. But Matt is convinced someone is trying to cover up whatever Brooks was working on. The FBI agents don’t want the detective anywhere near the investigation. Matt, feeling obligated to find the killer, quickly ties the homicides to an unsolved double murder from a few years back. This opens up a slew of questions, including why does some evidence from the older case appear fabricated? As it seems someone has committed murder to keep Brooks from spilling secrets, it’s almost a certainty that Matt and anyone who’s helping him are in danger. As in his previous appearances, Matt is a detective who doesn’t pull any punches. But he’s no antihero; he’s generally by-the-book and unmistakably concerned when his actions may put another in harm’s way. Ellis’ story moves at a steady beat; brief scenes and rapid-fire dialogue deftly showcase the detective methodically unraveling the mystery. Moreover, there’s a taut atmosphere, as Matt examines crime scenes alone; covertly meets someone at a fog-covered, darkened house; and even stumbles on another body. The narrative further intensifies once the villain becomes evident. Still, questions linger all the way to the end while the denouement will surely reverberate long after readers have finished this riveting book.

A moody, white-knuckle murder tale with an incisive, blunt hero.

Pub Date: June 2, 2021

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 233

Publisher: Lippman & Hart

Review Posted Online: May 21, 2021

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

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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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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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