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Tahoe Dark

From the Owen Mckenna Mystery Thriller series

Once again, Borg hits all the right notes for fans of classic detective fiction in the mold of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond...

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

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A Tahoe, California–based private detective investigates a kidnapping and an armored-car heist and discovers a surprising link between the two in Borg’s (Tahoe Blue Fire, 2015, etc.) 14th series thriller.

Private eye Owen McKenna becomes involved with an investigation into the abduction of Jonas Montrop, whose stepfather, David Montrop, is a con man whom McKenna once busted. Shortly after he helps to locate the young man, he’s hired to find the perpetrators of an armored-car robbery, and he soon finds that two of the four culprits have been murdered. The kidnapping and the heist seem to have one thing in common: Evan Rosen, a young woman who cleaned the Montrop house and went to high school with the two dead heisters. But Evan, who now cares for her younger sister, Mia, doesn’t strike McKenna as a killer even though critical evidence points to her bumping off the robbers as revenge for a rape she suffered in high school. As the dead bodies pile up, the PI becomes more convinced that Evan is innocent and does everything in his power to help clear her name. Once again, McKenna receives support from his loyal girlfriend, etymologist Street Casey, and his equally loyal Great Dane, Spot. Overall, this novel represents old-school detective work at its most pure, as McKenna uses good, old-fashioned shoe leather and common sense to solve the crimes. The only negative aspect of the book is the author’s tendency to pad his narrative out longer than necessary. What Borg does best, though, as usual, is give readers a strong rooting interest in why the mystery at the center of the story needs to be solved. It all leads to a tense confrontation aboard a cabin cruiser, during which he cleverly reveals the wheels-within-wheels machinations of the mystery plot. 

Once again, Borg hits all the right notes for fans of classic detective fiction in the mold of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Ross Macdonald, and Robert B. Parker.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-931296-24-3

Page Count: 341

Publisher: Thriller Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2016

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A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

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

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DARK MATTER

Suspenseful, frightening, and sometimes poignant—provided the reader has a generously willing suspension of disbelief.

A man walks out of a bar and his life becomes a kaleidoscope of altered states in this science-fiction thriller.

Crouch opens on a family in a warm, resonant domestic moment with three well-developed characters. At home in Chicago’s Logan Square, Jason Dessen dices an onion while his wife, Daniela, sips wine and chats on the phone. Their son, Charlie, an appealing 15-year-old, sketches on a pad. Still, an undertone of regret hovers over the couple, a preoccupation with roads not taken, a theme the book will literally explore, in multifarious ways. To start, both Jason and Daniela abandoned careers that might have soared, Jason as a physicist, Daniela as an artist. When Charlie was born, he suffered a major illness. Jason was forced to abandon promising research to teach undergraduates at a small college. Daniela turned from having gallery shows to teaching private art lessons to middle school students. On this bracing October evening, Jason visits a local bar to pay homage to Ryan Holder, a former college roommate who just received a major award for his work in neuroscience, an honor that rankles Jason, who, Ryan says, gave up on his career. Smarting from the comment, Jason suffers “a sucker punch” as he heads home that leaves him “standing on the precipice.” From behind Jason, a man with a “ghost white” face, “red, pursed lips," and "horrifying eyes” points a gun at Jason and forces him to drive an SUV, following preset navigational directions. At their destination, the abductor forces Jason to strip naked, beats him, then leads him into a vast, abandoned power plant. Here, Jason meets men and women who insist they want to help him. Attempting to escape, Jason opens a door that leads him into a series of dark, strange, yet eerily familiar encounters that sometimes strain credibility, especially in the tale's final moments.

Suspenseful, frightening, and sometimes poignant—provided the reader has a generously willing suspension of disbelief.

Pub Date: July 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-90422-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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