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

Tahoe Dark

From the Owen Mckenna Mystery Thriller series

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

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

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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King fans won’t be disappointed, though most will likely prefer the scarier likes of The Shining and It.

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THE INSTITUTE

The master of modern horror returns with a loose-knit parapsychological thriller that touches on territory previously explored in Firestarter and Carrie.

Tim Jamieson is a man emphatically not in a hurry. As King’s (The Outsider, 2018, etc.) latest opens, he’s bargaining with a flight attendant to sell his seat on an overbooked run from Tampa to New York. His pockets full, he sticks out his thumb and winds up in the backwater South Carolina town of DuPray (should we hear echoes of “pray”? Or “depraved”?). Turns out he’s a decorated cop, good at his job and at reading others (“You ought to go see Doc Roper,” he tells a local. “There are pills that will brighten your attitude”). Shift the scene to Minneapolis, where young Luke Ellis, precociously brilliant, has been kidnapped by a crack extraction team, his parents brutally murdered so that it looks as if he did it. Luke is spirited off to Maine—this is King, so it’s got to be Maine—and a secret shadow-government lab where similarly conscripted paranormally blessed kids, psychokinetic and telepathic, are made to endure the Skinnerian pain-and-reward methods of the evil Mrs. Sigsby. How to bring the stories of Tim and Luke together? King has never minded detours into the unlikely, but for this one, disbelief must be extra-willingly suspended. In the end, their forces joined, the two and their redneck allies battle the sophisticated secret agents of The Institute in a bloodbath of flying bullets and beams of mental energy (“You’re in the south now, Annie had told these gunned-up interlopers. She had an idea they were about to find out just how true that was"). It’s not King at his best, but he plays on current themes of conspiracy theory, child abuse, the occult, and Deep State malevolence while getting in digs at the current occupant of the White House, to say nothing of shadowy evil masterminds with lisps.

King fans won’t be disappointed, though most will likely prefer the scarier likes of The Shining and It.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9821-1056-7

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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