A well-plotted and compelling tale, despite a few inaccuracies.


Kelsey offers a debut noir mystery featuring a memorable private detective seeking answers in 1949 Denver.

Harry Thorpe, a World War II veteran, is known to his friends as “Fuzzy,” plays bass fiddle at a jazz club, and has a fondness for bourbon. During the day, he works as a private eye, which mostly entails trailing unfaithful spouses. Although he finds this “depressing,” the pay is steady and the effort required is relatively minimal: “Snap some pics. Take some notes. Then help people ruin their lives.” When he’s asked to look into some threatening letters sent to his old Air Force colonel Christian Marquand, he balks at first; Marquand is cagey about the letters’ specific content and says that he burned them after reading them. Despite his misgivings, Thorpe finally accepts the case—and the hefty retainer that goes with it. He soon becomes entangled with other members of the Marquand family, getting to know the colonel’s wife, Louise, and falling for her darkly mysterious sister, Loren. But although the letters keep coming, Marquand continues to reveal little about them. Then Marquand’s young son is kidnapped, which ratchets up the stakes. What follows is a well-constructed narrative that gains momentum as the facts of the abduction—and the colonel’s shady connections—come to light. Some readers may be bothered by occasional anachronisms; Thorpe orders Macallan Scotch at a dive bar, even though single-malt Scotch whisky wasn’t available in the United States in 1949, and occasional 21st-century phrases such as “It’s all good” feel out of place. Kelsey proves to be a sharp storyteller, though, layering his narrative with suspense and romance and rounding out his characters with vivid traits and enough backstory to make them feel fully formed. In addition to being a sharp-tongued, hard-drinking detective, Thorpe is revealed to be a Princeton University graduate, a skilled researcher, and someone who’s suffered greatly from the trauma of war. Indeed, World War II and its atrocities loom over the entire novel.

A well-plotted and compelling tale, despite a few inaccuracies.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-578-85698-8

Page Count: 281

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2021

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A top-class cozy infused with dry wit and charming characters who draw you in and leave you wanting more, please.

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Four residents of Coopers Chase, a British retirement village, compete with the police to solve a murder in this debut novel.

The Thursday Murder Club started out with a group of septuagenarians working on old murder cases culled from the files of club founder Elizabeth Best’s friend Penny Gray, a former police officer who's now comatose in the village's nursing home. Elizabeth used to have an unspecified job, possibly as a spy, that has left her with a large network of helpful sources. Joyce Meadowcroft is a former nurse who chronicles their deeds. Psychiatrist Ibrahim Arif and well-known political firebrand Ron Ritchie complete the group. They charm Police Constable Donna De Freitas, who, visiting to give a talk on safety at Coopers Chase, finds the residents sharp as tacks. Built with drug money on the grounds of a convent, Coopers Chase is a high-end development conceived by loathsome Ian Ventham and maintained by dangerous crook Tony Curran, who’s about to be fired and replaced with wary but willing Bogdan Jankowski. Ventham has big plans for the future—as soon as he’s removed the nuns' bodies from the cemetery. When Curran is murdered, DCI Chris Hudson gets the case, but Elizabeth uses her influence to get the ambitious De Freitas included, giving the Thursday Club a police source. What follows is a fascinating primer in detection as British TV personality Osman allows the members to use their diverse skills to solve a series of interconnected crimes.

A top-class cozy infused with dry wit and charming characters who draw you in and leave you wanting more, please.

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-98-488096-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 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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