Ultragruesome murders are no match for a trio of detectives in this standout thriller.


A vicious serial killer terrorizes Manhattan, bent on avenging an abusive past.

In this third entry of a thriller series, after Bone Thief (2006) and The Screaming Room (2007), New York author O’Callaghan introduces his most heinous killer yet: a psychotic mortician with a vendetta against Manhattan sex workers. Right from the opening pages, Tilden Quinn is already at work embalming his latest victim inside a mortuary. After the bloodless corpse is discovered floating in the East River, other bodies begin popping up all across New York City. Homicide Lt. John Driscoll dutifully snaps into action to lead an investigation that swiftly blooms with each horrific victim Tilden mutilates. As both a childhood and adult victim of abuse, Tilden is on the loose exacting his hate-filled rage against sex workers, particularly after an encounter that left him sodomized so severely he was hospitalized. To the killer, these women wrongfully “chose a life of immorality” and must be thoroughly cleansed by way of exsanguination. As Driscoll delves deeper into the case, the tall, intimidating detective continues to wrestle with a sorrowful past that includes the death of his mother when he was a boy and the loss of his teenage daughter to a drunk driver. The accident sent his wife into a coma. Just as torturous is Tilden’s own history, which the author teases out over the course of the novel. That backstory describes him as a boy being physically abused by his sex-worker mother’s live-in john. Driscoll, ably assisted by tough Sgt. Margaret Aligante, a childhood victim of abuse, and Detective Cedric Thomlinson, who is covertly battling a burgeoning alcohol dependency, begins amassing clues. The team investigates suspects in a new string of church-related slaughters and interviews prospective leads, no matter how unsavory they may be, including a porn producer specializing in simulated snuff films. Themes of matricide, religious atonement, arson, and even cannibalism all conspire to create a heady stew of intrigue, crime drama, and thrilling police procedural. In Tilden, O’Callaghan has impressively molded a nefarious sociopathic maniac whose barbaric childhood roots hold the key to his murderous motivation. Not for the faint of heart, this novel is perhaps the most accomplished of the series with its chilling forensics, riveting suspense sequences, grisly details, and a diabolical villain who’s wholly consumed by merciless revenge.

Ultragruesome murders are no match for a trio of detectives in this standout thriller.

Pub Date: May 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-952225-14-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: WildBlue Press

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Top-drawer crime fiction. The authors are tough on the hero, but the hero is tough.


Patterson and Ellis put their characters through hell in this hard-edged second installment of their Black Book series after The Black Book (2017).

A young girl is one of four people gunned down in a “very, very bad” K-Town drive-by shooting in Chicago. Police are under intense political pressure to solve it, so Detective Billy Harney is assigned to the Special Operations Section to put the brakes on the gang violence on the West Side. His new partner is Detective Carla Griffin, whom colleagues describe as “sober as an undertaker” and “as fun as a case of hemorrhoids.” And she looks like the last thing he needs, a pill popper. (But is she?) Department muckety-mucks want Harney to fail, and Griffin is supposed to spy on him. The poor guy already has a hell of a backstory: His daughter died and his wife committed suicide (or did she?) four years earlier, he’s been shot in the head, charged with murder (and exonerated), and helped put his own father in prison. (Nothing like a tormented hero!) Now the deaths still haunt him while he and Griffin begin to suspect they’re not looking at a simple turf war starring the Imperial Gangster Nation. Meanwhile, the captain in Internal Affairs is deep in the pocket of some bad guys who run an international human trafficking ring, and he loathes Harney. The protagonist is lucky to have Patti, his sister and fellow detective, as his one reliable friend who lets him know he’s being set up. The authors do masterful work creating flawed characters to root for or against, and they certainly pile up the troubles for Billy Harney. Abundant nasty twists will hold readers’ rapt attention in this dark, violent, and fast-moving thriller.

Top-drawer crime fiction. The authors are tough on the hero, but the hero is tough.

Pub Date: March 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-49940-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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