An action-packed treat for conspiracy theorists that more skeptical readers may find hard to swallow.



Venturing outside Cabot Cove, Maine, Jessica Fletcher (A Date with Murder, 2018, etc.) finds the rest of the country just as dangerous.

During a visit to New York, Jessica is approached by fellow author Thomas Rudd, who claims that their publisher, Lane Barfield, is skimming money from their royalties. When Rudd fails to show up for a meeting, Jessica has only to follow her nose to his building to find out that he was killed in an apparent gas explosion that looks suspicious to both her and her old friend NYPD lieutenant Artie Gelber. When Jessica goes to her publisher's office and tells him Rudd is dead, Barfield can barely contain his excitement about The Affair, a first novel he's just acquired from an unknown author named Benjamin Tally. He thinks it will be a blockbuster, but he asks Jessica to read it to see if she agrees. Besides the manuscript he hands over to Jessica, Barfield had a copy of The Affair on a thumb drive he says Rudd stole. Jessica asks her accountant to look into Rudd's claim about her royalties, and he thinks there may have been something odd going on—but when Barfield dies, an apparent suicide, Jessica has a bad feeling about his death, too. She goes to Barfield's office and asks his assistant, Zara, a few questions about Barfield's mood and about The Affair, but Zara can't find anything in the computer system about the book or its author. On starting to read the manuscript during her trip home, Jessica finds it so gripping that she can’t put it down. It’s a bloody and harrowing tale of a young man who's been kidnapped and brought up to be a killer by the mysterious Guardians and who saves the president’s daughter from hired killers after she overhears a dangerous secret. Two other authors Barfield asked to read the manuscript are murdered, and Jessica is attacked and left for dead in her burning house before she can finish reading her copy. Deeply shaken and highly motivated, she joins forces with Gelber and her old friend Mort Metzger, the sheriff of Cabot Cove, to uncover the truth. All the clues lead to Washington, D.C., where they reveal a series of mind-blowing secrets.

An action-packed treat for conspiracy theorists that more skeptical readers may find hard to swallow.

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-48930-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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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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Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how...

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A convicted killer’s list of five people he wants dead runs the gamut from the wife he’s already had murdered to franchise heroine Ali Reynolds.

Back in the day, women came from all over to consult Santa Clarita fertility specialist Dr. Edward Gilchrist. Many of them left his care happily pregnant, never dreaming that the father of the babies they carried was none other than the physician himself, who donated his own sperm rather than that of the handsome, athletic, disease-free men pictured in his scrapbook. When Alexandra Munsey’s son, Evan, is laid low by the kidney disease he’s inherited from his biological father and she returns to Gilchrist in search of the donor’s medical records, the roof begins to fall in on him. By the time it’s done falling, he’s serving a life sentence in Folsom Prison for commissioning the death of his wife, Dawn, the former nurse and sometime egg donor who’d turned on him. With nothing left to lose, Gilchrist tattoos himself with the initials of five people he blames for his fall: Dawn; Leo Manuel Aurelio, the hit man he’d hired to dispose of her; Kaitlyn Todd, the nurse/receptionist who took Dawn’s place; Alex Munsey, whose search for records upset his apple cart; and Ali Reynolds, the TV reporter who’d helped put Alex in touch with the dozen other women who formed the Progeny Project because their children looked just like hers. No matter that Ali’s been out of both California and the news business for years; Gilchrist and his enablers know that revenge can’t possibly be served too cold. Wonder how far down that list they’ll get before Ali, aided once more by Frigg, the methodical but loose-cannon AI first introduced in Duel to the Death (2018), turns on them?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how little the boundary-challenged AI, who gets into the case more or less inadvertently, differs from your standard human sidekick with issues.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5101-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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