Less Elinor and Marianne Dashwood than Laverne and Shirley, Bridget and Elizabeth show little sense and less sensibility.

MURDER ON THE BRIDE'S SIDE

A Jane Austen fan who’s spent too much time with Sense and Sensibility tries to solve a murder at her best friend’s wedding.

The friendship between no-nonsense Elizabeth Parker (Murder at Longbourn, 2009) and flighty Bridget Matthews dates back to their childhood. So it’s no surprise when Bridget chooses Elizabeth as her one and only attendant at her wedding to Colin Delaney at Barton Landing, the Matthews family’s Virginia mansion. Nor is it odd that Elizabeth and her beau Peter McGowan are invited by family matriarch Elsie to stay at Barton Landing—along with Bridget’s parents Graham and Blythe, her aunt Claire and Claire’s obnoxious husband David, and her wheelchair-bound uncle Avery and his gold-digging wife Roni—while other out-of-town guests are housed at the Jefferson Hotel. As at any wedding, tensions run high, especially after svelte wedding planner Chloe Jenkins confides in Elizabeth that she and Peter were once engaged. The stress escalates as Roni announces that she’s just about persuaded Avery to sell the family business for oodles of cash. But it’s her cruelty to her daughter Megan that pushes her stepson Harry over the edge, leading to a shouting match. Next morning, Elizabeth finds Roni stabbed to death. The Jefferson Hotel key card lying next to the body gives Elsie hope that the killer lies outside the family circle, but Detective Grant of the local police knows that too many Matthewses have too many motives for murder.

Less Elinor and Marianne Dashwood than Laverne and Shirley, Bridget and Elizabeth show little sense and less sensibility. 

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-312-53756-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: July 6, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2010

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Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how...

THE A LIST

A convicted killer’s list of five people he wants dead runs the gamut from the wife he’s already had murdered to franchise heroine Ali Reynolds.

Back in the day, women came from all over to consult Santa Clarita fertility specialist Dr. Edward Gilchrist. Many of them left his care happily pregnant, never dreaming that the father of the babies they carried was none other than the physician himself, who donated his own sperm rather than that of the handsome, athletic, disease-free men pictured in his scrapbook. When Alexandra Munsey’s son, Evan, is laid low by the kidney disease he’s inherited from his biological father and she returns to Gilchrist in search of the donor’s medical records, the roof begins to fall in on him. By the time it’s done falling, he’s serving a life sentence in Folsom Prison for commissioning the death of his wife, Dawn, the former nurse and sometime egg donor who’d turned on him. With nothing left to lose, Gilchrist tattoos himself with the initials of five people he blames for his fall: Dawn; Leo Manuel Aurelio, the hit man he’d hired to dispose of her; Kaitlyn Todd, the nurse/receptionist who took Dawn’s place; Alex Munsey, whose search for records upset his apple cart; and Ali Reynolds, the TV reporter who’d helped put Alex in touch with the dozen other women who formed the Progeny Project because their children looked just like hers. No matter that Ali’s been out of both California and the news business for years; Gilchrist and his enablers know that revenge can’t possibly be served too cold. Wonder how far down that list they’ll get before Ali, aided once more by Frigg, the methodical but loose-cannon AI first introduced in Duel to the Death (2018), turns on them?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how little the boundary-challenged AI, who gets into the case more or less inadvertently, differs from your standard human sidekick with issues.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5101-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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An engaging, well-researched, and sometimes thought-provoking art mystery.

BIG LIES IN A SMALL TOWN

A tale of two artists, living 78 years apart in a small Southern town, and the third artist who links them.

The fates of two white painters in Edenton, North Carolina, intertwine with the legacy of a third, that of Jesse Jameson Williams, a prominent African American artist with Edenton roots. In 2018, the recently deceased Jesse has left a very unusual will. In life, Jesse paid his success forward by helping underdog artists. Morgan Christopher, the last, posthumous recipient of Jesse’s largesse, can’t imagine why he chose her, a complete stranger who is doing time for an alcohol-related crash that left another driver paralyzed. Released on an early parole engineered by Jesse’s daughter, Lisa, Morgan will receive $50,000 to restore a mural painted by one Anna Dale in 1940 in time for a gallery opening on Aug. 5, 2018. If Morgan misses this deadline, not only is her deal off, but Lisa will, due to a puzzling, thinly motivated condition of Jesse’s will, lose her childhood home. In an alternating narrative, Anna, winner of a U.S. Treasury Department competition, has been sent from her native New Jersey to paint a mural for the Edenton post office. Anna has zero familiarity with the South, particularly with Jim Crow. She recognizes Jesse’s exceptional talent and mentors him, to the ire of Edenton’s white establishment. Martin Drapple, a local portraitist rejected in the competition, is at first a good sport, when he’s sober, until, somewhat too suddenly, he’s neither. Issues of addiction and mental illness are foremost in both past and present. Anna’s late mother had manic episodes. Morgan’s estranged parents are unrepentant boozers. And Anna’s mural of civic pride is decidedly strange. One of the strengths here is the creditable depiction of the painter’s process, in Anna’s case, and the restorer’s art, in Morgan’s. Despite the fraught circumstances challenging all three painters, conflict is lacking. The 1940 racial tensions are unrealistically mild, and Jesse’s testamentary testiness is not mined for its full stakes-raising potential.

An engaging, well-researched, and sometimes thought-provoking art mystery.

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-08733-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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