A rewardingly savvy tour of Manhattan’s demented art scene with maybe one climax too many.

THE ART OF VIOLENCE

Whatever good feelings private eye Bill Smith may have about being back in New York after his recent trip to far-off Mississippi are muted by the fact that he’s dealing with his honored series’ most wacko client.

Six years ago, Bill did his best to round up evidence that Sam Tabor, who stabbed Amy Evans to death, was suffering a bout of temporary insanity. But Sam, ignoring the advice of everyone around him, pleaded instead to a reduced charge and went to prison, where he worked on his out-there paintings and his paranoia. Now that he’s been discovered by the art world, more or less legitimized by imperious gallery owner Sherron Konecki, and paroled, Sam, an alcoholic subject to regular blackouts, is convinced he’s killed two other women whose murders coincided with big events in his life. Since “I can handle prison, Smith, but not the [looney] bin,” he wants Bill to prove that he killed Annika Hausman and Tiffany Traynor, and he’s willing to confess his presumptive guilt to Detective Angela Grimaldi, who really doesn’t want to hear about it, and anyone else who’s likely to help lock him up. As Bill and Lydia Chin, his professional and personal partner, make the rounds of witnesses who might clear Sam by serving as alternate suspects, two things gradually become clear. One is that Sam’s relatives, friends, neighbors, colleagues, and collectors seem hellbent on proving they’re at least as neurotic, venal, explosive, and crazy as Sam. The other is that whoever’s killing young women with short blond hair isn’t done.

A rewardingly savvy tour of Manhattan’s demented art scene with maybe one climax too many.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64313-531-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pegasus Crime

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

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THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE

In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8272-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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Combines disarming sensitivity to the nuances of the tangled relations among the characters with sledgehammer plotting.

FALSE WITNESS

A master of the no-holds-barred law enforcement thriller turns to legal intrigue, with shattering results.

A week before he’s to stand trial for the aggravated assault and rape of DataTel district manager Tammy Karlsen, car-dealership scion Andrew Tenant fires his lawyer and asks for a new one: Leigh Collier, a rising star at an Atlanta white-shoe firm. Originally baffled by the request, Leigh quickly realizes that her new client has a special reason to have asked for her: He’s recognized her from a magazine photo as the older sister of Callie, the babysitter who killed his father, Buddy Waleski, when his latest pedophile assault on her turned violent 23 years ago. In fact, the truth is even darker than that. Leigh was an active participant in the killing. Now she's determined to do everything she can to torpedo the defense she's preparing for Andrew, who’s accused of stabbing Tammy Karlsen in exactly the way Callie stabbed his father, while persuading both her client and her watchful senior partner that she’s doing her utmost to represent him. As she learns more and more particulars about the case and her client, Leigh realizes that her plan doesn’t go nearly far enough. Andrew is guilty of this assault and others, but he doesn’t just want her to get him off: He plans to blackmail her into complying with a potentially endless series of demands. How can she strike back at a monster who holds all the cards? Only by tapping into the depthless power of sisterhood with Callie, who’s descended into addiction but still loves Leigh with a ferocity that makes the pair of them as dangerous as the man who’s targeted them.

Combines disarming sensitivity to the nuances of the tangled relations among the characters with sledgehammer plotting.

Pub Date: July 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-285809-2

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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