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FAREWELL, AMETHYSTINE

Things are never simple for Easy Rawlins. But his creator remains a master of the genre.

The latest Easy Rawlins book finds him, at age 50, more at peace with himself and the world than before. Somehow you know that won’t last.

“There I was, a Black man in 1970, driving through the countryside with a corpse in the trunk. I had a trick or two up my sleeve and a loaded .38 in my pocket.” If you had to guess who this speaker might be, it wouldn’t take long before you came around to Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins, the endearing private detective who’s the central figure in an absorbing chronicle of urban Los Angeles that’s, so far, spanned four decades. This installment finds business humming so well at Easy’s detective agency that he and his staff can kick back Monday mornings to chat about flu epidemics, Russian spy satellites, and UCLA’s attempt to oust Professor Angela Davis from her job. One bull session is interrupted by the entrance of a sultry young Black woman named Amethystine “Amy” Stoller. She wants Easy to find her ex-husband, a white accountant named Curt Fields, who’s dropped abruptly from sight. Rawlins is getting peculiar vibes from this case, most of them resonating from his younger days back in Houston’s Fifth Ward, where he’d fallen hard for an older woman named Anger Lee. Memories of that bitter affair stalk Easy as he sets out to find Fields—whose body he eventually discovers on an office floor on top of a sealed envelope with the name “Amethystine” scrawled in pencil. Easy could use some help from Melvin Suggs, his one true LAPD friend. Problem is, Suggs is in hiding, on the run trying to protect his wife from being implicated in a capital crime. It spoils little to disclose that the cases are related—and tangled in a welter of desperate gamblers and sleazy blackmailers through which Easy must uneasily navigate as he fends off the usual obstacles of racist cops and violent thugs with help from his friend Fearless Jones. This entry in the Easy epic may sometimes feel a bit by-the-numbers, but in the end, it also feels somewhat like a prelude to a potentially fresh—and dangerous—chapter in Rawlins’ life.

Things are never simple for Easy Rawlins. But his creator remains a master of the genre.

Pub Date: June 4, 2024

ISBN: 9780316491112

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Mulholland Books/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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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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THE BURNING

A brutal, gripping look at murder in a self-enclosed community with many secrets to hide.

When two police officers stop for a bit of dalliance, screams from the nearby woods introduce them to a puzzling and horrifying murder.

Chuck Skidmore and Mona Kurtz don’t arrive in time to rescue a man who’s being burned at the stake, a sight that will haunt their dreams. Police Chief Kate Burkholder arrives on the scene with her husband, John Tomasetti, an agent of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, who’ll join her and many other cops in a task force investigating the bizarre murder. Born Amish, Kate ran away from Painters Mill, found her vocation in law enforcement, and eventually came home as the police department’s chief. Over the years, she’s built up some trust with the local Amish community, who generally prefer to keep their problems to themselves. The victim is Milan Swanz, a troubled former schoolmate of Kate’s whom she’s arrested several times. A divorced man with four children, he’d been recently excommunicated by the Amish. Although Milan was far from popular, Kate meets a wall of silence from even her own brother, one of many people who had disputes with the hot-tempered man. Kate’s theory of the crime, based on stories in a book popular with the Amish, is so bizarre that she has trouble believing it herself. When her brother is arrested, she’s removed from the task force but continues to investigate, putting her in the sights of some very determined killers.

A brutal, gripping look at murder in a self-enclosed community with many secrets to hide.

Pub Date: July 9, 2024

ISBN: 9781250781116

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2024

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