by Saul Falconer ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 30, 2019
A somber, readable tale of frontier psychodrama.
Falconer’s whodunit, set in 19th-century Sydney Cove, New South Wales, stars a haunted, hard-drinking investigator.
It’s 1875, and Inspector Cormag Macleod is a gruff, older, haunted man who can handle himself in a back-alley brawl. Macleod spends much of the book hung over and likes brooding over his pipe. He’s a bit rancorous as the novel opens. Not only must he trek out to Allynbrook to investigate a murder, but he’s saddled with Constable McDermott, a helper/watcher who’s barely 20. At Allynbrook, this odd couple finds a clue—a leather disc with a distinctive brand that leads them even further into the hinterland, to small subsistence farms. As Macleod and McDermott make their way to a distant property called Ravenscroft (“a lovely place, sitting high atop the hill with the river winding around it”), they encounter an entire cast of hardscrabble farmers raising pigs and growing tobacco and wheat, living day to day. Most of them harbor secrets of some kind. The pair encounters ferocious storms, murders, and a crazed kind of butchery that seems to verge well beyond the human realm in its depravity; it all leads to a vivid, brutal climax. Falconer draws this provincial world well, although the book’s most memorable creation is Macleod himself, a hard man with a soft heart and a jaded worldview (“Most of the evil in this world is in men,” he tells McDermott, in answer to a question about whether or not he believes in ghosts, “we don’t need spirits for evil to be close to us”). The prose is often distractingly purple (“He saw colleagues and friends, those who where succumbing to their injuries slowly, as the tide of blood ebbed from them, their lives slipping away,” and so on), but the dark atmosphere carries the reader along.A somber, readable tale of frontier psychodrama.
Pub Date: June 30, 2019
Page Count: 318
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2021
Review Program: Kirkus Indie
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by Michael Connelly ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 7, 2023
The most richly accomplished of the brothers’ pairings to date—and given Connelly’s high standards, that’s saying a lot.
Harry Bosch and the Lincoln Lawyer team up to exonerate a woman who’s already served five years for killing her ex-husband.
The evidence against Lucinda Sanz was so overwhelming that she followed the advice of Frank Silver, the B-grade attorney who’d elbowed his way onto her defense, and pleaded no contest to manslaughter to avoid a life sentence for shooting Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Roberto Sanz in the back as he stalked out of her yard after their latest argument. But now that her son, Eric, is 13, old enough to get recruited by local gangs, she wants to be out of stir and at his side. So she writes to Mickey Haller, who asks his half-brother for help. After all his years working for the LAPD, Bosch is adamant about not working for a criminal defendant, even though Haller’s already taken him on as an associate so that he can get access to private health insurance and a UCLA medical trial for an experimental cancer treatment. But the habeas corpus hearing Haller’s aiming for isn’t, strictly speaking, a criminal defense proceeding, and even a cursory examination of the forensic evidence raises Bosch’s hackles. Bolstered by Bosch’s discoveries and a state-of-the-art digital reconstruction of the shooting, Haller heads to court to face Assistant Attorney General Hayden Morris, who has a few tricks up his own sleeve. The endlessly resourceful courtroom back-and-forth is furious in its intensity, although Haller eventually upstages Bosch, Morris, and everyone else in sight. What really stands out here, however, is that Connelly never lets you forget, from his title onward, the life-or-death issues behind every move in the game.The most richly accomplished of the brothers’ pairings to date—and given Connelly’s high standards, that’s saying a lot.
Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023
Page Count: 400
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023
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by Jessica Knoll ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 19, 2023
A stunning, engaging subversion of the Bundy myth—and the true-crime genre.
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This thinly veiled fictionalization of Ted Bundy’s attack on a Florida State University sorority begins with the horror rather than making it the climax.
As president of her sorority, Pamela Schumacher is used to staying up late to deal with paperwork while her sisters are out partying. The night of Jan. 15, 1978, is no different. Jarred awake at 3 a.m. after having fallen asleep with her clothes on, she hears running footsteps and sees a man heading for the front door. He can’t see her in the shadows—a fact that turns out to save her life, rendering her the only eyewitness to a horrible crime and a notorious criminal, “a man who murdered thirty-five women and escaped prison twice.” The novel goes on to follow several alternating timelines: From Pamela’s perspective, it builds from the day of the sorority murders and also follows her return trip to Tallahassee more than 30 years later in response to a mysterious letter. These chapters are interspersed with the 1974 story of Ruth Wachowsky, believed by her girlfriend, Tina Cannon, to have been one of the killer’s earlier victims. Knoll makes an interesting—and powerful—choice not to name Bundy at any point; Pamela asserts that she “vowed to stop using [his name]” because “there isn’t anything exceptionally clever” about him. Choosing not to name him deflates the myth of the monster, of the charmer, of the criminal genius that people often consider Bundy to be. As the title indicates, this novel belongs to the women: the ones killed because they were too kind to reject an “injured” man asking for help; the ones who lost people they loved; the ones who ultimately had to look him in the eye and not let it destroy their lives. There are twin threads of mystery that lead readers through the maze: the rumor of a suppressed confession tape and Ruth’s story. But in the end, it’s the latter that’s so much more important than the former. In this world of true-crime mania, Knoll knows that every choice—and every name—matters.A stunning, engaging subversion of the Bundy myth—and the true-crime genre.
Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2023
Page Count: 384
Publisher: Marysue Rucci Books
Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023
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