Fans of the old Law & Order: Criminal Intent TV series, starring the intense Vincent D’Onofrio, should appreciate a trio of unlikely protagonists who surface in three engaging novels recently reviewed by Kirkus. A disturbed physician, a careful trust officer, and an inventive publicist become entangled in various menacing plots. In Mark David Veldt’s Unfortunate Event, innocent anesthesiologist Jack Andrews must pay substantial monetary damages after losing a malpractice suit involving a patient’s death. Then Andrews’ wife files for divorce, requesting primary custody of their two beloved daughters. Enraged, he starts stalking the ruthless conspirators who annihilated his career. Our critic calls the book “an impressively written, fast-paced, graphically depicted hospital melodrama.” Jeff Widmer’s Mr. Mayhem follows an unjustly fired journalist named Brinker, who takes a public relations job for a murder-site tour. HeUnfortunateEvent_cover quickly realizes that he needs a few sensational slayings to attract customers. Seeking to improve business, and following the advice of a cunning doctor, he hires a mercy killer to eliminate terminal patients. But Brinker soon realizes that the enigmatic exterminator has his own victims list. “The story is somber but self-assured, like a film noir with a stylized, shadowy atmosphere,” Kirkus’ reviewer writes. Jim Knight, the resourceful hero of Isaac Ritter’s The Prudent Man,examines his supervisor’s estate cases, suspecting embezzlement, and soon encounters a fierce gang of racist bikers. Jim assembles an audacious investigative team that includes his loyal secretary; a retired private detective; and the sleuth’s computer-savvy nephew. “The protagonist, as the title suggests, is squeaky clean,” our critic writes, “but his resolve will win over readers.”

Myra Forsberg is an Indie editor.