A fitting sendoff that modulates as smooth as butter from celebration to shock to detection to ticking-clock suspense.

PIECE OF MY HEART

The sixth and presumably final collaboration between Clark, who died in January, and Burke picks up with true-crime TV producer Laurie Moran on the very eve of her wedding, only to see her happiness dashed when her fiance’s nephew is kidnapped.

Even though her first husband was murdered by a man who years later came after her and her son, Timmy, Laurie considers herself impossibly lucky. As she frolics at East Hampton’s South Shore Resort and Spa, surrounded by her loving family, days before she’s to marry federal judge Alex Buckley, who hosts her TV program, Under Suspicion, she feels more blessed than ever. Her serenity is rudely jolted when that family suddenly shrinks with the disappearance of Johnny Buckley, the 7-year-old son of Alex’s sister, Marcy, spirited out from under the nose of his longtime babysitter’s slightly less attentive friend. Laurie blames herself for golfing instead of hitting the beach with Timmy and Johnny; her father, former NYPD first deputy commissioner Leo Farley, blames himself for spending the day responding to the accusations of Darren Gunther, who’s been imprisoned ever since he confessed to Leo that he stabbed bar owner Lou Finney 18 years ago in a brawl that got out of hand, that Leo only made up his confession. Could Gunther have arranged Johnny’s kidnapping to press Leo to support his story? Could the abduction have something to do with Marcy and Andrew Buckley’s adoption of Johnny soon after he was born to a woman whose identity they’ve never learned? Or could the kidnapper have snatched Johnny by mistake, thinking he was Timmy?

A fitting sendoff that modulates as smooth as butter from celebration to shock to detection to ticking-clock suspense.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982132-54-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

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THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE

In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8272-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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A satisfying, if predictable, thriller that will please fans of police procedurals.

THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE

When health care aide Bettina Holte is found drained of blood in Copenhagen’s oldest fountain, little does Investigator Jeppe Kørner know that he has a budding serial killer on his hands.

The very next day, another body is found, similarly drained. Under increasing pressure from his superintendent, Kørner quickly deduces that the murder weapon was a scarificator, a strange bloodletting device. He also learns that both victims once worked at Butterfly House, a short-lived residential home for teens with psychiatric illnesses. The home was closed after a young girl died by suicide and a social worker was found drowned. An expert at narrative sleight of hand, Engberg strews the investigational field with multiple suspects, each shadowy enough to maintain our suspicions. Perhaps Bo Ramsgaard, the teen's grieving father, is worth a closer look. Or perhaps one of the young people could hold a grudge against the staff, which included the ambitious psychiatrist Peter Demant and nurse Trine Bremen, who has been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Yet former patient Isak Brügger, diagnosed with schizophrenia, is still under nearly 24-hour surveillance at the Bispebjerg Hospital, as Simon Hartvig, his social worker, can attest. And former patient Marie Birch is now living in an insular countercultural community. Meanwhile, Kørner himself is conflicted about his relationship with Detective Sara Saidani: Is he ready to try again so soon after his divorce? And Kørner’s partner, Anette Werner, is on maternity leave but can’t resist getting involved as well. It’s her work that collides with Kørner’s for a dramatic final confrontation.

A satisfying, if predictable, thriller that will please fans of police procedurals.

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982127-60-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scout Press/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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