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 rousing legal thriller that’s also an acute study of female victimization and male privilege.

THE STOLEN HOURS

A law clerk still battling demons from her past must rise to dizzying heights in preparing a case against a serial sex killer.

Lila Nash has never truly recovered from her rape when she was 18. She’s cut herself, tried to kill herself, spent years in therapy, powered her way through law school, and landed a plum entry-level job with the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office despite the fact that Frank Dovey, the new prosecutor, has hated Lila ever since she and her law school mentor, professor Boady Sanden, embarrassed him in court. Now Andi Fitch, the aggressive prosecutor to whom Dovey has assigned Lila as an assistant in the serene confidence that she’ll fail, presses her to make the case against wedding photographer Gavin Spencer, who’s accused of assaulting and nearly killing bridesmaid Sadie Vauk. Spencer, a serial predator who plans and executes his murderous assaults meticulously and has a special gift for seeing around curves and destroying the evidence that might incriminate him, is a ruthless antagonist. As Eskens demonstrates, however, he’s cut from the same cloth as Frank Dovey, whose bloodless campaign against Lila is every bit as unscrupulous. Even readers who predict the tale’s biggest twist before it arrives will still have the breath knocked out of them by the surprises that follow. And they’ll all cheer when fragile Lila finally gains the strength to stand up to the oppressors in her life and wrestle it back from them.

A rousing legal thriller that’s also an acute study of female victimization and male privilege.

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-31670-349-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Mulholland Books/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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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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