A series opener that’s a bouncy romp, albeit one with a corpse.

Blood Red

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

ISBN: 978-0-9998582-5-7

Page Count: 386

Publisher: Black Hawk Press

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A smart summer escape.

PORTRAIT OF AN UNKNOWN WOMAN

Silva’s latest Gabriel Allon novel is a bit of a throwback—in the best possible way.

One-time assassin and legendary spymaster Gabriel Allon has finally retired. After saying farewell to his friends and colleagues in Israel, he moves with his wife, Chiara, and their two young children to a piano nobile overlooking Venice’s Grand Canal. His plan is to return to the workshop where he learned to restore paintings as an employee—but only after he spends several weeks recovering from the bullet wound that left him dead for several minutes in The Cellist (2021). Of course, no one expects Gabriel to entirely withdraw from the field, and, sure enough, a call from his friend and occasional asset Julian Isherwood sends him racing around the globe on the trail of art forgers who are willing to kill to protect their extremely lucrative enterprise. Silva provides plenty of thrills and, as usual, offers a glimpse into the lifestyles of the outrageously wealthy. In the early books in this series, it was Gabriel’s work as an art restorer that set him apart from other action heroes, and his return to that world is the most rewarding part of this installment. It is true that, at this point in his storied career, Gabriel has become a nearly mythic figure. And Silva is counting on a lot of love—and willing suspension of disbelief—when Gabriel whips up four old master canvases that fool the world’s leading art experts as a lure for the syndicate selling fake paintings. That said, as Silva explains in an author’s note, the art market is rife with secrecy, subterfuge, and wishful thinking, in no small part because it is almost entirely unregulated. And, if anyone can crank out a Titian, a Tintoretto, a Gentileschi, and a Veronese in a matter of days, it’s Gabriel Allon. The author’s longtime fans may breathe a sigh of relief that this entry is relatively free of politics and the pandemic is nowhere in sight.

A smart summer escape.

Pub Date: July 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-283485-0

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Harper

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: yesterday

Did you like this book?

A rarity: a police procedural more deeply invested in the victims than either the killer or the police.

ABANDONED IN DEATH

June 2061 is a perilous time for women in a downtown Manhattan neighborhood who happen to resemble a violent kidnapper’s mother.

The killer doesn’t seem to be trying to hide anything except his own identity. Ten days after snatching bartender Lauren Elder from the street as she walked home, he leaves her body, carefully dressed and made up, with even the gash in her throat meticulously stitched up and beribboned, where it’s sure to be found quickly, along with the chilling label “bad mommy.” When Lt. Eve Dallas and Detective Delia Peabody realize that Anna Hobe, a server at a nearby karaoke bar who disappeared a week ago under similar circumstances, was probably another victim of the same perp, the clock begins ticking down even before they learn that assistant marketing manager Mary Kate Covino has gone missing as well. Dallas, Peabody, and the helpers who’ve made Robb’s long-lived franchise even more distinctive than its futuristic setting race to find the women or identify their kidnapper before he reverts once again to the 5-year-old abandoned by his mother many years ago. The emphasis this time is on investigative procedure, forensics (beginning with the Party Girl perfume and the Toot Sweet moisturizer the murderer uses on the corpses of his victims), and the broader danger women in every generation face from men who just can’t grow up.

A rarity: a police procedural more deeply invested in the victims than either the killer or the police.

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-2502-7821-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

more