The most striking feature is the provocative gender-flipping of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin.

FORTUNE FAVORS THE DEAD

A sprightly period debut that shows New York’s preeminent female detective and her assistant plying their trade in 1945.

When the matriarch of the well-to-do Collins family is bashed to death by a crystal ball in a locked room, her relatives ask Lillian Pentecost to look into the case. Despite its wealth, the family has already seen its share of troubles. Abigail Collins’ husband, steel magnate Alistair Collins, shot himself a year ago. Before her own death, Abigail was consulting psychic Ariel Belestrade, whose practices are so questionable that she’s being investigated by skeptical anthropology professor Olivia Waterhouse. And problems continue without missing a beat. Shortly after Harrison Wallace, the acting CEO of Collins Steelworks and Manufacturing, hires Lillian, Rebecca Collins, Abigail’s saucy daughter and Wallace’s goddaughter, starts hitting on Willowjean Parker, the assistant Lillian hired away from a circus and trained as her assistant and successor. Will is both responsive to and disconcerted by Becca’s overtures; certainly she’d rather get kissed by Becca than beaten by the unseen enemy who attacks her moments after their most recent tête-à-tête. Spotswood supplies scattershot period detail (Will presciently calls Lillian “Ms. Pentecost” in 1945), mild wisecracks, an anticlimactic solution to that locked-room puzzle, and a Chinese box of denouements: If your chosen suspect isn’t pronounced guilty, just wait a few pages.

The most striking feature is the provocative gender-flipping of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin.

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-385-54655-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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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 lavish food descriptions and appended recipes are the best parts of this anemic mystery.

CANDY SLAIN MURDER

Christmas is coming, but so is trouble for South Lick, Indiana.

Robbie Jordan, owner and chief cook at Pans ’N Pancakes, returns from solving a murder in California just in time for the holiday rush, which is complicated more than most Christmastimes by a number of surprises that disrupt her circle of friends. First, her assistant, Danna Beedle, gets a visit from Marcus Vandemere, a young biracial man claiming to be her half brother, an assertion that thrills Danna despite the doubts of some friends and relatives. Next comes a fire that nearly destroys the home of anesthesiologist Dr. William Geller, a racist whose wife, Tina, reportedly left him years ago. When a skeleton turns up in the attic, the not-so-esteemed doctor has some explaining to do. Robbie’s nemesis, Detective Octavia Slade, who recently married Robbie’s former boyfriend, is more willing than usual to accept help from Robbie, who has a knack for finding things out. The next to die is Tina’s twin, Toni, who knew Marcus from karate classes. Toni’s husband is the prime suspect, but Robbie’s convinced the fatalities are connected. With help from her boyfriend and her network of friends, she attempts to clear things up before the killer spoils her holiday by adding her to his list.

The lavish food descriptions and appended recipes are the best parts of this anemic mystery.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4967-2317-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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