Readers will delight in watching the computer nerd get the girl—and maybe catch a killer as well.


Technically Dead

A detective and a computer genius/consultant look into the apparent murder of a businessman in Meisel’s murder-mystery debut.

If Detective Nikki Sharp pulls a case in which perusing computer files could prove beneficial, she’s helped by independently wealthy technology guru Archie Teal. That arrangement happens often, including in the case of Edward Hoskins of Beverly Hills, shot dead in the abdomen. With assistance from Archie’s AI, Erasmus, the investigative duo locks onto a suspect almost immediately: George Michalopoulos, whose interactive-books company—suspiciously similar to Hoskins’ own—led to Hoskins’ bankruptcy. Michalopoulos may have killed Hoskins to cover up illicit activities, but with other events in the victim’s life, such as a bitter ongoing divorce, any number of people could be guilty of murder. The author’s short novel is a mystery saturated with potential killers. With little evidence at the scene, Nikki and Archie check alibis of everyone, from divorce lawyers to the CFO of Hoskins’ defunct company. The investigation occasionally hits a wall, and the detective/consultant pair often re-examine what they’ve learned. Michalopoulos, meanwhile, may be complicit in other crimes—e.g., credit-card fraud—that have nothing to do with the murder, even if Nikki and Archie continue to scrutinize them after handing their info over to the FBI. But Meisel knows how to keep the story moving: the investigators may be on the right track when, in Archie’s house, a ski-masked figure attacks them both, and then someone tries to hack Erasmus. On top of that, a subplot involving romance between Nikki and Archie is surprisingly engaging. Archie, who initiates the first date, comes across as charming not because he wants to improve his social skills but in how he does it—asking Erasmus to teach him. He may too often rely on his AI for the murder case, but when he needs Erasmus’ help with dating, it’s admirable, since it’s evident that the socially awkward man is jumping far outside his comfort zone. Meisel waits until the very end to reveal the murderer, but it’s a conclusion that satisfies.

Readers will delight in watching the computer nerd get the girl—and maybe catch a killer as well.

Pub Date: July 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9964868-1-1

Page Count: 152

Publisher: BookBaby

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2015

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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. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An appealing new heroine, a fast-moving plot, and a memorably nightmarish family make this one of Box’s best.

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The creator of Wyoming Fish and Game Warden Joe Pickett (Wolf Pack, 2019, etc.) launches a new series starring a female private eye who messes with a powerful family and makes everyone involved rue the day.

Cassie Dewell’s been taking a monthly retainer from Bozeman attorney Rachel Mitchell for investigations of one sort and another, but she really doesn’t want to look into the case of Rachel’s newest client. That’s partly because Blake Kleinsasser, the fourth-generation firstborn of a well-established ranching family who moved to New York and made his own bundle before returning back home, comes across as a repellent jerk and partly because all the evidence indicates that he raped Franny Porché, his 15-year-old niece. And there’s plenty of evidence, from a rape kit showing his DNA to a lengthy, plausible statement from Franny. But Cassie owes Rachel, and Rachel tells her she doesn’t have to dig up exculpatory evidence, just follow the trail where it leads so that she can close off every other possibility. So Cassie agrees even though there’s an even more compelling reason not to: The Kleinsassers—Horst II and Margaret and their three other children, John Wayne, Rand, and Cheyenne, Franny’s thrice-divorced mother—are not only toxic, but viperishly dangerous to Blake and now Cassie. Everyone in Lochsa County, from Sheriff Ben Wagy on down, is in their pockets, and everyone Cassie talks to, from the Kleinsassers to the local law, finds new ways to make her life miserable. But Cassie, an ex-cop single mother, isn’t one to back down, especially since she wonders why anyone would take all the trouble to stop an investigation of a case that was as rock-solid as this one’s supposed to be.

An appealing new heroine, a fast-moving plot, and a memorably nightmarish family make this one of Box’s best.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-05105-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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