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Tahoe Blue Fire


From the Owen Mckenna Mystery Thriller series

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

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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


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. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020


A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be...

Box takes another break from his highly successful Joe Pickett series (Stone Cold, 2014, etc.) for a stand-alone about a police detective, a developmentally delayed boy, and a package everyone in North Dakota wants to grab.

Cassandra Dewell can’t leave Montana’s Lewis and Clark County fast enough for her new job as chief investigator for Jon Kirkbride, sheriff of Bakken County. She leaves behind no memories worth keeping: her husband is dead, her boss has made no bones about disliking her, and she’s looking forward to new responsibilities and the higher salary underwritten by North Dakota’s sudden oil boom. But Bakken County has its own issues. For one thing, it’s cold—a whole lot colder than the coldest weather Cassie’s ever imagined. For another, the job she turns out to have been hired for—leading an investigation her new boss doesn’t feel he can entrust to his own force—makes her queasy. The biggest problem, though, is one she doesn’t know about until it slaps her in the face. A fatal car accident that was anything but accidental has jarred loose a stash of methamphetamines and cash that’s become the center of a battle between the Sons of Freedom, Bakken County’s traditional drug sellers, and MS-13, the Salvadorian upstarts who are muscling in on their territory. It’s a setup that leaves scant room for law enforcement officers or for Kyle Westergaard, the 12-year-old paperboy damaged since birth by fetal alcohol syndrome, who’s walked away from the wreck with a prize all too many people would kill for.

A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be welcome to return and tie up the gaping loose end Box leaves. The unrelenting cold makes this the perfect beach read.

Pub Date: July 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-58321-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: April 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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