Kane delivers yet again for fans of fine art and whodunits.

AUTOMAT

Lily Sparks is back in this latest mystery installment, tracking down a killer inspired by Edward Hopper’s paintings.

Ex-attorney Lily is the conservator of paintings at the Denver Art Museum, which is gearing up for a major Hopper exhibit. To gin up excitement before the opening, the museum staff plans a series of tableaux vivants of selected paintings at venues around the city, but with a twist: The static scenes with actors will each transform into a short playlet in the spirit of the painting. The first, “Automat,” is a great success—until Lily finds the actor backstage with her throat cut. Who did it? And should the three remaining tableaux still go on? Lily wants to cancel them but she’s overruled, which means that each one will be an invitation for the murderer to strike again. As Lily tries to narrow down the possible suspects, she also tries to get her erstwhile boyfriend, FBI agent Paul Reilly, to come back to Denver from Washington, D.C.—and hopefully, back into her life. Soon, another actor is killed, and one of Lily’s friends gets pushed in front of a car. For the final tableau, Lily makes herself the bait, leading to a tense climax and a conclusion that’s a bit far-fetched but certainly apt. Kane knows how to build suspense, and she’s adept at scattering red herrings throughout the narrative. This new outing is very similar to her previous book, A Perfect Eye (2019), in some ways; it not only features the same cast of characters, but also portrays a sick villain who’s drawn to the works of a particular painter, and it reuses the shtick of occasionally providing the killer’s interior monologues. That said, the latter device is still chilling, and it still works. Readers may also learn a lot about Hopper, as well—a contained man whose paintings speak volumes about solitude and, often, desperation. Over the course of this book, those paintings are shown to be as much an intellectual as an aesthetic experience.

Kane delivers yet again for fans of fine art and whodunits. (acknowledgements, author bio)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 157

Publisher: COLD HARD PRESS

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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Terrifying, primal, and very, very tense. Read it with your heart in your throat—but read it.

ONE STEP TOO FAR

Frankie Elkin, a miraculous finder of missing persons, seeks a man who wandered into the wilderness and was never seen again.

Last seen rescuing a missing teenager from the gritty streets of Boston, Frankie embarks from a bus in Ramsey, Wyoming, drawn in by the story of hiker Timothy O’Day, who's been missing for five years, and the last-gasp efforts of his father, Martin, to search for his remains. Frankie has some regrets about leaving Boston, but she's called to find those others have given up on. She manages to finagle her way on to the search party, which in addition to Martin includes a local guide; a search-and-rescue dog and her handler; a Bigfoot expert; and Tim’s friends, who were in the woods with him when he went missing. In the years since, they’ve moved on with their lives, but they are carrying guilt and secrets about the night Tim disappeared. As they all head into the unforgiving wilderness, it quickly becomes apparent that someone is deeply threatened by this effort to find Tim’s body. As she endeavors to draw the truth from each member of the search party, Frankie can tell that she's in over her head, and not only because she’s an inexperienced outdoorswoman. Could Tim still be alive and looking for revenge, or is there a more dangerous secret that someone would kill to protect? Gardner is incredibly skilled at developing tension and suspense; she’s equally skilled at slowly revealing complex characters and their secrets. Both gifts reinforce each other in this novel. If Frankie is out of her element, so are we: It’s not often that a thriller so deeply casts us into the darkness of both nature and the human heart.

Terrifying, primal, and very, very tense. Read it with your heart in your throat—but read it.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-18541-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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A crime yarn laced with tension and wit.

ROBERT B. PARKER'S BYE BYE BABY

The latest of dozens of Boston-based crime novels in the late Robert B. Parker’s Spenser series.

Spenser is a tough White detective, and his close associate is a tougher Black guy named Hawk. Both are pretty much on the right side of the law, though Hawk has a less-than-heartwarming history with cops. Aides of Congresswoman Carolina Garcia-Ramirez, aka CGR, want to hire Spenser to protect her from troubling death threats as she campaigns for renomination, although she doesn’t think it necessary. People seem to think she’s either “Joan of Arc or Attila the Hun,” but she says she’s used to the haters. CGR evokes images of AOC and Ayanna Pressley, mainly in the intensity of hatred toward her. She thinks Spenser looks “like a leg breaker from Southie,” but he has more endearing qualities, such as quoting dead White poets: “Faith it does me,” he tells her. “Though it discolors the complexion of my greatness to acknowledge it.” He’s also a renowned wiseass, allowing that he often settles scores with his fists, but “Only when a good hug fails.” Sometimes he’s a bit too cute: “I smiled, offering half wattage so as not to distract her from her duties.” And asked by a receptionist to identify himself, he says, “Fred Flintstone. I’m here about arranging a meeting of the Royal Water Buffalo.” But there are good descriptions: “He had the kind of a face that demanded a spiked collar around his neck,” and Hawk’s pointed social remark, “Sometimes just being born makes you a target.” So there’s going to be a primary debate, and the word on the street is that someone plans to “make a run” at CGR immediately afterward. The FBI wants CGR to fire Spenser and Hawk, but she wisely has confidence in the local muscle. “You and I are a different breed of thug,” says Spenser to Hawk.

A crime yarn laced with tension and wit.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-32851-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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