Fans of Larsson and Nesbø will hope that Dazieri changes his mind and extends the Torre/Caselli series.

KILL THE KING

Italian mysterian Dazieri concludes a trilogy of dark mayhem with a suitably gruesome close.

If Kill the Father (2017) gave us a would-be paterfamilias with whom only Hannibal Lecter would want to exchange Christmas cards and Kill the Angel (2018) introduced readers to the arcana of Indo-European mythology, this concluding volume is a study in PTSD. And for good reason: Colomba Caselli, the enterprising detective heroine, has had just about all she can stand of mass murder, decapitation, and other hallmarks of her trade, and she’s taken herself to the Italian countryside to rest. It’s quiet—too quiet, since the area is full of little towns “inhabited only by old people who rounded out their pensions by hunting for truffles.” Yet even there trouble has a way of finding Colomba, in this case in the form of an apparently autistic young man she finds wandering about dazed, covered in blood that is not his own. The lad, she learns, “is perfectly capable of understanding and formulating intent,” which makes him a fine candidate for imprisonment. It would be nice if Dante Torre, Colomba’s partner in crime-solving, were on hand to figure out what’s happened in the quaint confines of Montenigro, but he’s been imprisoned in a “six-story building the size of a public housing block without a single fucking window on the upper floors”—and on the outskirts of Chernobyl, no less. This is no cozy English countryside whodunit: The doings that are afoot are nasty and exceedingly lethal, with a mad truck driver, for instance, mowing down rows of priests and assorted other victims until the festivities come to an end in a huge explosion “slicing like an incandescent scythe through the crowd of running people.” That’s just a taste of the ugliness that people wage on one another throughout the book, which is decidedly not for sensitive souls.

Fans of Larsson and Nesbø will hope that Dazieri changes his mind and extends the Torre/Caselli series.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7472-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

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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Fast-paced fun that’s fraught with peril. The Bells are such a nice couple.

THE SABOTEURS

Malign forces want to slow completion of the Panama Canal, but Isaac Bell has plenty to say about that in his 12th tale of derring-do.

In 1914, the U.S. is digging an enormous ditch across the mosquito-infested isthmus of Panama, with “mechanical dragons wreathed in steam” ripping out eight tons at a time in the Culebra Cut. Horrific incidents happen, and they’re not always accidents. A mysterious terrorist group called Viboras Rojas, or Red Vipers, seems responsible for an explosion that kills dozens and delays the canal’s construction. Isaac Bell of the Van Dorn Detective Agency is sent there to investigate, and a team of wild horses wouldn’t keep his wife, Marion, from coming along. Bell keeps mighty busy. Within days, he’s “thwarted an assassination attempt and brought a mad bomber to heel,” and he’s just getting started. The detective is exceptionally observant and ingenious. How he survives a catastrophic landslide is such a combination of quick thinking and luck that readers will hold their breath as they turn the pages, only realizing later how unlikely it all is. Meanwhile, Germany conspires with Argentina to severely delay the canal’s opening—Argentina would lose plenty of oceangoing commerce, and as it girds for war in Europe, Germany fears America’s rise as a global power. The proximate villain is Otto Dreissen, who correctly believes that former President Teddy Roosevelt won’t be able to resist traveling to see “the most transformative engineering feat in history…dangers be damned”—and there is danger, since the kaiser has authorized Roosevelt's assassination. But first Dreissen must arrange an “accident” for Bell, the “man with the nine lives of a cat.” Poor Otto. He should know it’s not that easy to kill off a series hero. Nor a series hero’s wife, even when she’s dangling from a dirigible. A bonus tip to readers: Stay away from manchineel trees and superheated steam.

Fast-paced fun that’s fraught with peril. The Bells are such a nice couple.

Pub Date: May 25, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-19122-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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