A highly entertaining caper set in a sleazy London underworld.

NOTES ON A MISSING G-STRING

A low-key jazz guitarist finds himself embroiled in a bitter feud between a high-class escort and a gangland boss in Kent’s novel.

Five years after surviving a shipwreck in the Gulf of Alaska, musician Jason Davey is back home in London, enjoying a relatively tranquil life as a resident guitarist at the Blue Devil nightclub. Then a visit from an old friend, fellow cruise ship worker Sal Jones, leads him down a path that takes him a long way out of his comfort zone. Sal’s friend, sex worker Holly Medford, had £10,000 (and a G-string) stolen from her locker while she was working at a local “gentlemen’s club.”She needed the money to repay a debt to notorious gangster Arthur Braskey, who’s growing increasingly impatient. Someone needs to track down the cash before Holly finds herself in real danger, and because Jason has done a little amateur sleuthing before, Sal thinks that the guitar player would be the ideal man for the job. The £10,000, though, turns out to be a mere drop in the ocean—and Arthur is a less-than-sympathetic creditor, as Jason learns the hard way. Despite the novel’s rather garish title, it’s a fairly impressive crime thriller. Jason is a well-crafted reluctant hero, and Kent’s writing is slick and engaging throughout. Jason has appeared in her fiction before—in 2012’s Cold Play and a later novella—and this entry is a little slow to hit its stride, as the loss of £10,000 and a lingerie item seems a rather modest premise for a crime novel; it’s not until around the halfway mark that things really start to escalate. However, this is a minor gripe, as even when the case seems underwhelming, the prose is strong enough to carry it through. There’s a tangential plotline involving Holly’s brother and a member of Jason’s band that becomes too conveniently relevant to the main story, but this doesn’t detract significantly from what is otherwise a skillfully crafted crime novel.

A highly entertaining caper set in a sleazy London underworld.

Pub Date: July 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9880826-5-6

Page Count: 220

Publisher: Blue Devil Books

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2020

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Top-drawer crime fiction. The authors are tough on the hero, but the hero is tough.

THE RED BOOK

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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Crave chills and thrills but don’t have time for a King epic? This will do the job before bedtime. Not that you’ll sleep.

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LATER

Horrormeister King follows a boy’s journey from childhood to adolescence among the dead—and their even creepier living counterparts.

Jamie Conklin sees dead people. Not for very long—they fade away after a week or so—but during that time he can talk to them, ask them questions, and compel them to answer truthfully. His uncanny gift at first seems utterly unrelated to his mother Tia’s work as a literary agent, but the links become disturbingly clear when her star client, Regis Thomas, dies shortly after starting work on the newest entry in his bestselling Roanoke Saga, and Tia and her lover, NYPD Detective Liz Dutton, drive Jamie out to Cobblestone Cottage to encourage the late author to dictate an outline of his latest page-turner so that Tia, who’s fallen on hard times, can write it in his name instead of returning his advance and her cut. Now that she’s seen what Jamie can do, Liz takes it on herself to arrange an interview in which Jamie will ask Kenneth Therriault, a serial bomber who’s just killed himself, where he’s stowed his latest explosive device before it can explode posthumously. His post-mortem encounter with Therriault exacts a high price on Jamie, who now finds himself more haunted than ever, though he never gives up on the everyday experiences in which King roots all his nightmares.

Crave chills and thrills but don’t have time for a King epic? This will do the job before bedtime. Not that you’ll sleep.

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7890-9649-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Hard Case Crime

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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