Complex and challenging, but equally rewarding.


Unsolved murders are just the beginning of this bleak, perplexing tapestry of menace.

In their fourth outing (Blood on the Tongue, 2002, etc.), British investigative odd couple Diane Fry and Ben Cooper are dispatched to the remote moorland village of Withens to assure Sarah and Howard Renshaw that everything possible is being done to find their missing daughter, Emma. The unofficial but commonly held police belief is that 19-year-old Emma, who’s been missing for two years, was murdered. The Renshaws, however, live in a state of perpetual anticipation, speaking of their daughter in the present tense and expecting her imminent return home. The Renshaws’ vigil is only one of Withens’s many oddities. Fires occur randomly and without warning. The night air is regularly fouled not only by smoke but by random, unexplained screams. Many locals suspect that both these phenomena are the work of the unwieldy Oxley clan, which includes a brace of delinquent teenage boys. A rogue’s gallery of other suspects populate the region as well. When one of Emma’s former roommates is found murdered, with a peculiarly blackened face, Fry and Cooper intensify their probe. Booth also continues to chart the dynamics of the police squad, especially the relationship of the very private Sergeant Fry and the empathic Constable Cooper, which is tested when Fry’s long-estranged sister Angie shows up on Cooper’s doorstep.

Complex and challenging, but equally rewarding.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-7432-3796-X

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2003

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One of her best. Poirot, again on vacation, falls foul of a murder on board a Nile river steamer, followed by two successive murders, obviously connected. A sophisticated group, an ingenious plot, clever deduction, swift-paced narrative. A little romance on the side lends glamour. First rate entertainment.

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 1938

ISBN: 0062073559

Page Count: 354

Publisher: Dodd, Mead

Review Posted Online: Sept. 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1938

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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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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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