Though Nora's fans will want to know what she gets up to at Christmas, the plot and sentiment feel too thin to resonate with...

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NORA BONESTEEL'S CHRISTMAS PAST

McCrumb’s recurring character, Nora Bonesteel, uses her second sight to solve a mystery in this Christmas novella.

A Christmas story loves nostalgia, and a ghost doesn’t hurt either; both appear in this tale of Tennessee mountain charity and goodwill. Though it’s Christmas Eve, Sheriff Spencer Arrowood and Deputy LeDonne have a warrant for the arrest of J.D. Shull, wanted for crashing into the Mercedes of a senator’s wife. They're hesitant to go into the back mountains—they don’t want to be stranded in the snowstorm they can see is coming—but LeDonne is a stickler for rules; waiting until after the holidays just won’t do. Meanwhile, Nora is trying to solve the mystery of her new neighbors, the Havertys, Florida transplants now living in the old Honeycutt place. It seems the Havertys' Christmas tree (a silver foil tree decorated with pink flamingos!) keeps getting knocked over. In between Nora’s reminiscences (in glorious Christmases past, Judge Honeycutt would invite the whole mountain community to his farm), she also remembers when Grandma Flossie warned her not to let people know she had “the sight,” as it’s better to let life proceed as it’s meant to. As Nora considers how to help the Havertys, the sheriff and LeDonne have reached Shull, who needs a mess of chores done before he can be taken into custody, so his elderly wife and the cows don’t freeze while he’s away. As Nora suspects that the Christmas spirit may be the ghost of Tom Honeycutt, killed in World War II, the sheriff and LeDonne discover they may have just been hoodwinked by a crafty old mountain man.

Though Nora's fans will want to know what she gets up to at Christmas, the plot and sentiment feel too thin to resonate with newcomers.

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4267-5421-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Abingdon Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2014

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Great storytelling, a quirky hero, and a quirkier plot make this a winner for adventure fans.

CROOKED RIVER

FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast finds evil afoot in his latest action-filled adventure (Verses for the Dead, 2018, etc.).

Imagine Florida beachcombers’ shock when they discover a shoe with a severed foot inside. Soon they see dozens more feet, all in identical shoes, bobbing toward the beach. Police and FBI ultimately count more than a hundred of them washing up on Sanibel and Captiva Islands' tranquil shores. Pendergast teams up with the junior Special Agent Armstrong Coldmoon to investigate this strange phenomenon. Oceanographers use a supercomputer to analyze Gulf currents and attempt to determine where the feet entered the ocean. Were they dumped off a ship or an island? Does each one represent a homicide? Analysts examine chemical residues and pollen, even the angle of each foot’s amputation, but the puzzle defies all explanation. Attention focuses on Cuba, where “something terrible was happening” in front of a coastal prison, and on China, the apparent source of the shoes. The clever plot is “a most baffling case indeed” for the brilliant Pendergast, but it’s the type of problem he thrives on. He’s hardly a stereotypical FBI agent, given for example his lemon-colored silk suit, his Panama hat, and his legendary insistence on working alone—until now. Pendergast rarely blinks—perhaps, someone surmises, he’s part reptile. But equally odd is Constance Greene, his “extraordinarily beautiful,” smart, and sarcastic young “ward” who has “eyes that had seen everything and, as a result, were surprised by nothing.” Coldmoon is more down to earth: part Lakota, part Italian, and “every inch a Fed.” Add in murderous drug dealers, an intrepid newspaper reporter, coyotes crossing the U.S.–Mexico border, and a pissed-off wannabe graphic novelist, and you have a thoroughly entertaining cast of characters. There is plenty of suspense, and the action gets bloody.

Great storytelling, a quirky hero, and a quirkier plot make this a winner for adventure fans.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4725-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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

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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