A well-written novel, but the intricate plot teeters precariously on a rash of bad decisions made by otherwise street-smart...


A beautiful former combat medic takes on Miami's bad guys in Hawken's (Tequila Sunset, 2014, etc.) tale of honor, betrayal, and international intrigue.

Camaro Espinoza fled New York after killing five evil men (we never learn any more about this; maybe in a later volume?) and ended up in Miami, where she’s built a business as a charter boat operator. She takes the Annabel—a 50-foot fishing boat—out in the deep seas around the port city for fishing groups by day or by night. When Parker Story, a down-on-his-luck ex-con who's trying to lift himself and his 14-year-old daughter, Lauren, out of poverty, shows up with a proposition, Camaro is sure there’s a catch, and she’s right: Story’s acting as frontman for the mean-spirited Matt, another former convict. Matt and his cronies have been hired to smuggle a man out of Cuba. Only problem is that Matt, who was involved in a pawnshop robbery in which three men died, is being watched by a Miami Police detective. Although she has misgivings, Camaro decides to go through with the pickup in order to help Story, but when she does, everything goes sideways, and she soon finds herself on the run with a teenager in tow and both the police and bad guys on her trail. Hawken’s a good writer, and, except for an occasional creative verb, he keeps his prose lean. And Camaro is a worthy protagonist, someone who will resonate with readers over many volumes. However, there are some stumbles in the plotting. For example, Camaro seems much too smart to get involved with Story’s scheme, and her violent nature is somewhat puzzling. It’s also implausible that the powerful men who hire Matt and his crew would resort to a two-bit criminal rather than simply doing it themselves.

A well-written novel, but the intricate plot teeters precariously on a rash of bad decisions made by otherwise street-smart people.

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-29921-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Mulholland Books/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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


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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Joe’s fifth case is his best balanced, most deeply felt and most mystifying to date: an absolute must.


Crime-fighting Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett outdoes himself during a temporary transfer from sleepy Saddlestring to fashionable Jackson Hole.

Will Jensen, the Jackson game warden, was a great guy and a model warden, but once his wife left him six months ago, he spiraled into madness and suicide, and now Joe’s been called to replace him. The transition is anything but smooth. There’s no question of Joe’s family coming with him, so he’s reduced to hoping he can get a signal for the cell-phone calls he squeezes into his busy schedule. En route to his new posting, Joe has to pursue a marauding grizzly. He arrives to meet a formidable series of challenges. Cantankerous outfitter Smoke Van Horn wants to go on attracting elk with illegal salt licks without the new warden’s interference. Animal Liberation Network activist Pi Stevenson wants him to publicize her cause and adopt a vegan diet. Developer Don Ennis wants to open a housing development for millionaires who like their meat free of additives. Ennis’s trophy wife Stella simply wants Joe—and he wants her back. As he wrestles with these demands, and with a supervisor riled over Joe’s track record of destroying government property in pursuit of bad guys (Trophy Hunt, 2004, etc.), Joe slowly becomes convinced that Will did not kill himself.

Joe’s fifth case is his best balanced, most deeply felt and most mystifying to date: an absolute must.

Pub Date: May 5, 2005

ISBN: 0-399-15291-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

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