Another satisfying detective novel from Borg, featuring a hero who walks confidently in the footsteps of Sam Spade, Philip...

Tahoe Blue Fire


From the Owen Mckenna Mystery Thriller series

In Borg’s (Tahoe Ghost Boat, 2014) latest series mystery, Nevada private detective Owen McKenna investigates the death of a client and uncovers a mystery that goes back 500 years.

In Tahoe, McKenna takes on a paranoid new client, Scarlett Milo, who fears for her life, and she’s soon found shot to death. The private eye rapidly discovers a possible link to the recent deaths of Darla Ali and Sean Warner, who were both killed by a snowplow. The murder also appears to be connected to a fire at the home of former pro football player Adam Simms; he’s suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) as a result of taking too many hits on the field, so he isn’t much help to the investigation. But on his own, McKenna goes on to figure out that all the victims had an interest in the Medici family of Renaissance Italy. Accompanied by his girlfriend, Street Casey, the private detective travels to Florence and learns about a diamond that the Medicis owned five centuries ago: the Blue Flame of Florence, which is similar in worth to the famous Hope Diamond. Improbably, Frank Sinatra once bought the Blue Flame as a gift to woo Marilyn Monroe, but its current whereabouts are anyone’s guess—which explains why someone might think it’s worth taking so many lives. McKenna and Street return to Tahoe for a final confrontation with the killer, who will stop at nothing to locate the gem. Fans of old school private eye novels will be in their element with this latest Owen McKenna adventure. Borg doesn’t reinvent the wheel here, but he doesn’t need to do so when he composes his story with such sturdy elements: a dogged gumshoe hero, a gripping narrative, a MacGuffin with an engaging back story, and a tangled but comprehensible mystery plot. As with his previous book, the author also adds a human dimension—this time in the form of McKenna’s touching relationship with Simms, which puts a human face on the tragedy of CTE.

Another satisfying detective novel from Borg, featuring a hero who walks confidently in the footsteps of Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe, and Lew Archer.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-931296-23-6

Page Count: 351

Publisher: Thriller Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2015

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.


Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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No wonder Scarpetta asks, “When did my workplace become such a soap opera?” Answer: at least 10 years ago.


Happy birthday, Dr. Kay Scarpetta. But no Florida vacation for you and your husband, FBI profiler Benton Wesley—not because President Barack Obama is visiting Cambridge, but because a deranged sniper has come to town.

Shortly after everyone’s favorite forensic pathologist (Dust, 2013, etc.) receives a sinister email from a correspondent dubbed Copperhead, she goes outside to find seven pennies—all polished, all turned heads-up, all dated 1981—on her garden wall. Clearly there’s trouble afoot, though she’s not sure what form it will take until five minutes later, when a call from her old friend and former employee Pete Marino, now a detective with the Cambridge Police, summons her to the scene of a shooting. Jamal Nari was a high school music teacher who became a minor celebrity when his name was mistakenly placed on a terrorist watch list; he claimed government persecution, and he ended up having a beer with the president. Now he’s in the news for quite a different reason. Bizarrely, the first tweets announcing his death seem to have preceded it by 45 minutes. And Leo Gantz, a student at Nari’s school, has confessed to his murder, even though he couldn’t possibly have done it. But these complications are only the prelude to a banquet of homicide past and present, as Scarpetta and Marino realize when they link Nari’s murder to a series of killings in New Jersey. For a while, the peripheral presence of the president makes you wonder if this will be the case that finally takes the primary focus off the investigator’s private life. But most of the characters are members of Scarpetta’s entourage, the main conflicts involve infighting among the regulars, and the killer turns out to be a familiar nemesis Scarpetta thought she’d left for dead several installments back. As if.

No wonder Scarpetta asks, “When did my workplace become such a soap opera?” Answer: at least 10 years ago.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-232534-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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