It’s as if Robb armed Offred, gave her backup, and turned Margaret Atwood’s dystopian fable into a comic book.

FAITHLESS IN DEATH

Lt. Eve Dallas follows the path from the murder of a West Village sculptor to a fearsomely powerful cult.

Dallas and Detective Delia Peabody’s snap forensic analysis in the apartment of Ariel Byrd suggests that the young woman enjoyed wine and sex shortly before she was beaten to death with her own mallet. The absence of a condom or any trace of seminal fluids suggests that her final partner was a woman—perhaps Gwendolyn Huffman, the friend who’d had an appointment to sit for a sculpture. Dallas and Peabody, who take against Gwen from the get-go, derive particular pleasure from attacking the tissue of lies she fed them during their first encounter, and their second, in one of the New York Police and Security Department's interrogation rooms, breaks her wide open. But Gwen didn’t kill her lover; that job seems to have fallen to a member of Natural Order, the cult the Rev. Stanton Wilkey founded with significant financial backing from Gwen’s wealthy parents. Natural Order had counted on Gwen’s ability to lure her fiance, millionaire attorney Merit Caine, into their clutches, and when Ariel threatened the impending nuptials, one of them took her out. But which one? As Dallas and Peabody see in a visit to the cult’s closely guarded compound, Wilkey runs a tight ship, and it’s hard to believe that any of his underlings would have gone freelance without authorization from their racist, misogynistic, anti-gay, rapist master. As the franchise heroine squares off against an outsize villain who ticks all the anti-social boxes, readers around the world will be united in their absolute certainty about what’s coming next.

It’s as if Robb armed Offred, gave her backup, and turned Margaret Atwood’s dystopian fable into a comic book.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2502-7274-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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A fierce 13-year-old girl propels this dark, moving thriller.

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WE BEGIN AT THE END

A police chief who never grew up and a girl who never had a childhood try to solve the murder of someone they love.

A tiny, picturesque town on the California coast is an emotional prison for the characters of this impressive, often lyrical thriller. Its two main characters are a cop with an improbable naïveté and a child too old for her years. Walk (short for Walker, his last name) is chief of the two-person police department in Cape Haven and a native son. He’s kind and conscientious and haunted by a crime that occurred when he was a teenager, the death of a girl named Sissy Radley, whose body Walk discovered. Duchess Radley is that child’s niece, the daughter of Star Radley, the town’s doomed beauty. Most men lust after Star, including several of her neighbors and perhaps a sinister real estate developer named Dickie Darke. But Star is a substance abuser in a downward spiral, and her fatherless kids, Duchess and her younger brother, Robin, get, at best, Star’s benign neglect. Walk, who’s known Star since they were kids, is the family’s protector. As the book begins, all of them are coming to terms with the return to town of Vincent King. He’s Walk’s former best friend, Star’s former boyfriend, and he’s served a 30-year prison term for the death of Sissy (and that of a man he killed in prison). Someone will end up dead, and the murder mystery structures the book. But its core is Duchess, a rage-filled girl who is her brother’s tender, devoted caretaker, a beauty like her mother, and a fist-swinging fighter who introduces herself as “the outlaw Duchess Day Radley.” Whitaker crafts an absorbing plot around crimes in the present and secrets long buried, springing surprises to the very end.

A fierce 13-year-old girl propels this dark, moving thriller.

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-75966-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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Grisham fans will be pleased, graphic details of evil behavior and all.

A TIME FOR MERCY

A small-town Mississippi courtroom becomes the setting for a trademark Grisham legal tussle.

Stuart Kofer is not a nice guy. He drinks way too much and likes to brawl. One night, coming home in a foul mood with a blood alcohol count more than triple the legal limit, he breaks his live-in girlfriend’s jaw. He’s done terrible things to her children, too—and now her 16-year-old boy, Drew, puts an end to the terror. Unfortunately for the kid in a place where uniforms are worshipped, Stu was a well-liked cop. “Did it really matter if he was sixteen or sixty? It certainly didn’t matter to Stu Kofer, whose stock seemed to rise by the hour,” writes Grisham of local opinion about giving Drew the benefit of the doubt. Jake Brigance, the hero of the tale, is a lawyer who’s down to his last dime until a fat wrongful-death case is settled. It doesn’t help his bank book when the meaningfully named Judge Omar Noose orders him to defend the kid. Backed by a brilliant paralegal whose dream is to be the first Black female lawyer in the county, he prepares for what the local sheriff correctly portends will be “an ugly trial” that may well land Drew on death row. As ever, Grisham capably covers the mores of his native turf, from gun racks to the casual use of the N-word. As well, he examines Bible Belt attitudes toward abortion and capital punishment as well as the inner workings of the courtroom, such as jury selection: “What will your jury look like?” asks a trial consultant, to which Jake replies, “A regular posse. It’s rural north Mississippi, and I’ll try to change venue to another county simply because of the notoriety.” The story runs on a touch long, as Grisham yarns tend to do, and it gets a bit gory at times, but the level of tension is satisfyingly high all the way to the oddly inconclusive end.

Grisham fans will be pleased, graphic details of evil behavior and all.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-385-54596-9

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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