A thick web of family tensions and psychological dysfunction with a whodunit chaser, Tolkien's third novel (The Inheritance,...

THE KING OF DIAMONDS

A prisoner escapes on the very night that his ex-girlfriend is murdered. Could it possibly be a coincidence?

In 1958, David Swain, protesting his innocence right up until the verdict, receives a life sentence for murdering Ethan Mendel, the new lover of his ex, Katya Osman, at Blackwater Hall, her family home. Two years later, Katya, an emotional mess, accuses her companion Jana Claes of trying to kill her with a tranquilizing injection. Jana and her husband Franz are indispensable to Katya's wealthy father Titus, the only person who seems able to calm her. He's poised to marry the elegant Vanessa, another contributor to Katya's fragile mental state, who's equally unpopular with the territorial Franz and Jana. Meanwhile, David has fallen under the spell of his prison cellmate Eddie Earle, a career criminal with a soft spot for the young man and a daring escape plan. David can barely believe his good fortune. After the duo gains freedom with barely a hitch, Tolkien takes David all the way to Katya's bedroom door, which he opens slowly as he remembers an ominous couplet of children's verse. Then the perspective shifts to Detective Inspector Trave, called unexpectedly to the mansion to investigate a murder, just as he was a scant few years ago. David, still at large, is clearly the likeliest suspect, but the veteran Trave sees other possibilities.

A thick web of family tensions and psychological dysfunction with a whodunit chaser, Tolkien's third novel (The Inheritance, 2010, etc.) is elegantly written, with Masterpiece Theatre pacing and embellishments. 

Pub Date: March 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-312-53908-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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

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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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The loose ends that make this the least satisfactory of Joe’s three cases to date still don’t inhibit Box’s gift for nonstop...

WINTERKILL

The latest in an award-winning series set in the Bighorn Mountains (Savage Run, 2002, etc.).

Minutes after Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett arrests Lamar Gardiner, District Supervisor for the Twelve Sleep National Forest, for firing into a herd of elk, killing seven animals and blindly continuing to reload with cigarettes after he runs out of shells, Gardiner manages to handcuff Joe to his steering wheel and bolt off into a winter storm, only to turn up pinned to a tree with a pair of arrows, his throat cut. And things get even messier from that point on. The attack on a federal agent, together with reports that the Nation of the Rocky Mountain Sovereign Citizens has established an encampment in Twelve Sleep, brings gung-ho US Forest Service investigator Melinda Strickland and FBI sharpshooter Dick Munker, a veteran of Waco and Ruby Ridge, to town. Strickland maintains that she’s just trying to get justice for a murdered official, but she seems awfully eager to tie the perp to the Sovereigns. By the time Joe arrests one of Gardiner’s disappointing killers and identifies the other, Strickland and Munker are already planning an all-out attack on the encampment. The prospect is a personal nightmare for Joe, since Jeannie Keeley, the drifter whose abandoned daughter April Joe and his wife have been trying to adopt, has reclaimed April and spirited her off to the dubious shelter of the Sovereigns.

The loose ends that make this the least satisfactory of Joe’s three cases to date still don’t inhibit Box’s gift for nonstop action and his ability to see every side of the most divisive issues in the West.

Pub Date: May 12, 2003

ISBN: 0-399-15045-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2003

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