If it weren’t for the proper names and historical references, fans would never know they were reading a continuation of one...

DEATH OF AN ART COLLECTOR

Everyone in Manhattan’s art world, from Frank Lloyd Wright on down, seems to be pressing Nero Wolfe to determine whether a wealthy collector fell or was pushed out of his office window.

A dinner to preview the 1959 opening of the Guggenheim Museum for its upper-crust patrons introduces Archie Goodwin, who’s accompanying his philanthropist girlfriend, Lily Rowan, to the soon-to-be-deceased Arthur Wordell, the father of Lily’s friend Nadia, and most of the intimates who seem fated to rub him the wrong way: biographer Faith Richmond, Art & Artists publisher Emory Sterling, curator at large Henry Banks, fine arts professor Boyd Tatum, abstract expressionist painter Zondra Zagreb, and Roger Mason, mopey curator of the Wordell collection. The only suspect missing from the group is Alexis Evans Farrell Wordell, the long-estranged wife who’s evidently hoping her refusal to divorce the collector will put her first in line if he dies intestate, as he obligingly does by tumbling 20 stories from the nondescript midtown office window in which he’s wont to perch to the parking lot below. Nadia, who’s convinced her father’s death was neither accident nor suicide, importunes Wolfe (The Battered Badge, 2018, etc.) to investigate. So does Alexis, who makes no secret of the fact that she thinks Nadia is responsible. And so does Wright, famed architect of the Guggenheim, who thinks Wolfe owes it to the city to take the case without a fee. Remarkably, Wright’s visit to Wolfe’s brownstone is no more remarkable than any of the other visits he gets from suspects, some at their insistence, some at his. No clues emerge from their conversations; no one in particular is implicated; and everyone sounds so much like everyone else that you may forget who’s sitting in the red leather chair this time. When it’s time for the big reveal, Wolfe summons all interested parties, tosses out some vague remarks that could implicate anyone, and enjoys the dubious satisfaction of seeing the killer snap like a week-old breadstick. As if.

If it weren’t for the proper names and historical references, fans would never know they were reading a continuation of one of the 20th century’s great detective franchises.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5040-5754-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Open Road Integrated Media

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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A top-notch psychological thriller.

COLD COLD HEART

In Hoag’s (The 9th Girl, 2013, etc.) latest, talented young newscaster Dana Nolan is left to navigate a psychological maze after escaping a serial killer.

While recuperating at home in Shelby Mills, Indiana, Dana meets her former high school classmates John Villante and Tim Carver. Football hero Tim is ashamed of flunking out of West Point, and now he’s a sheriff’s deputy. After Iraq and Afghanistan tours, John’s home with PTSD, "angry and bitter and dark." Dana survived abduction by serial killer Doc Holiday, but she still suffers from the gruesome attack by "the man who ruined her life, destroyed her career, shattered her sense of self, damaged her brain and her face." What binds the trio is their friend Casey Grant, who's been missing five years, perhaps also a Holiday victim, even if "[t]he odds against that kind of coincidence had to be astronomical." Hoag’s first 100 pages are a gut-wrenching dissection of the aftereffects of traumatic brain injury: Dana is plagued by "[f]ear, panic, grief, and anger" and haunted by fractured memories and nightmares. "Before Dana had believed in the inherent good in people. After Dana knew firsthand their capacity for evil." Impulsive and paranoid, Dana obsesses over linking Casey’s disappearance to Holiday, with her misfiring brain convincing her that "finding the truth about what had happened to Casey [was] her chance of redemption." But then Hoag tosses suspects into the narrative faster than Dana can count: Roger Mercer, Dana’s self-absorbed state senator stepfather; Mack Villante, who left son John with "no memories of his father that didn’t include drunkenness and cruelty"; even Hardy, the hard-bitten, cancer-stricken detective who investigated Casey’s disappearance. Tense, tightly woven, with every minor character, from Dana’s fiercely protective aunt to Mercer’s pudgy campaign chief, ratcheting up the tension, Hoag’s narrative explodes with an unexpected but believable conclusion.

A top-notch psychological thriller.

Pub Date: Jan. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-525-95454-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how...

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THE A LIST

A convicted killer’s list of five people he wants dead runs the gamut from the wife he’s already had murdered to franchise heroine Ali Reynolds.

Back in the day, women came from all over to consult Santa Clarita fertility specialist Dr. Edward Gilchrist. Many of them left his care happily pregnant, never dreaming that the father of the babies they carried was none other than the physician himself, who donated his own sperm rather than that of the handsome, athletic, disease-free men pictured in his scrapbook. When Alexandra Munsey’s son, Evan, is laid low by the kidney disease he’s inherited from his biological father and she returns to Gilchrist in search of the donor’s medical records, the roof begins to fall in on him. By the time it’s done falling, he’s serving a life sentence in Folsom Prison for commissioning the death of his wife, Dawn, the former nurse and sometime egg donor who’d turned on him. With nothing left to lose, Gilchrist tattoos himself with the initials of five people he blames for his fall: Dawn; Leo Manuel Aurelio, the hit man he’d hired to dispose of her; Kaitlyn Todd, the nurse/receptionist who took Dawn’s place; Alex Munsey, whose search for records upset his apple cart; and Ali Reynolds, the TV reporter who’d helped put Alex in touch with the dozen other women who formed the Progeny Project because their children looked just like hers. No matter that Ali’s been out of both California and the news business for years; Gilchrist and his enablers know that revenge can’t possibly be served too cold. Wonder how far down that list they’ll get before Ali, aided once more by Frigg, the methodical but loose-cannon AI first introduced in Duel to the Death (2018), turns on them?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how little the boundary-challenged AI, who gets into the case more or less inadvertently, differs from your standard human sidekick with issues.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5101-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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