by Sherri Leigh James ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 8, 2019
A series opener that’s a bouncy romp, albeit one with a corpse.
Awards & Accolades
In this Hollywood Hills mystery, a struggling interior designer investigates who turned her deadbeat client into a dead one.
Surveying the spectacular progress interior designer Cissy Huntington and the construction crew had made on his Beverly Hills mansion, Dr. Robert Martin thought he’d died and gone to heaven. Soon, he was at least half right. After a brief argument, an unnamed associate shoots the wildly successful Hollywood plastic surgeon dead in his blood-red-painted library. Cissy, who discovers her only client with a fatal head wound, later learns from his lawyer that in addition to being behind on paying her, his “estate was not what one would have assumed.” The designer’s husband recently walked out on her after declaring bankruptcy so Cissy desperately needs the money due her. She and her 22-year-old daughter, Emma, befriend Martin’s niece and sole heir, Susan Wallerski, who arrives in Los Angeles from her home in Wichita, Kansas, for the funeral. Cissy tells Susan she needs the payment. But Susan says she needs closure with finding out who murdered her uncle. The two investigate Martin’s neighbors and celebrity clients for clues. Along with Emma, they also search the doctor’s home and find a secret sealed room containing what may have led to his murder. Profanity is commonplace in this series opener, and some non-swear phrases will give readers pause, such as the description of the plastic surgeon redoing a starlet’s bumpy proboscis with “the standard JAP nose.” Although James, an LA interior designer, nails descriptions of amber-toned, pear-wood paneling and Murano chandeliers, the speed at which the estate is handled is unrealistic. Using the names of actual Hollywood players as characters getting plastic surgery likely won’t sit well with readers. But the camaraderie of a multigenerational group of women, the frequent mention of luxe clothing brands and establishments, and the presence of “thirty-something, dark-eyed hottie” homicide detective Manny Rodriquez moves the enjoyable story along merrily and at a brisk pace. A plus for readers to reference are the blueprints provided for each floor of the doctor’s home.A series opener that’s a bouncy romp, albeit one with a corpse.
Pub Date: March 8, 2019
Page Count: 386
Publisher: Black Hawk Press
Review Posted Online: April 1, 2020
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 Kathy Reichs ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 17, 2020
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
Page Count: 352
Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020
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