A fabulous, well-researched whodunit.

THE DEAD BELL

A widely disliked, wealthy old woman is found murdered on the grounds of her manicured estate in a crime novel steeped in drama, trauma, and secrets.

In Winslow’s auspicious debut mystery, Faith Wesley, a prominent resident of affluent Lake Forest, Illinois, must have been killed in her garden early in the day; the ground beneath her corpse feels moist from morning dew but not soaked from sprinklers that fire up at 6:45 a.m. Veteran investigating detective Tom Edison notes a “gash the color of crushed pomegranates” on Faith’s pale neck. The estate’s security cameras weren’t working at the time of the murder, and the groundskeeper hasn’t shown up for work yet. Faith’s 40-something daughter, Linda Edwards, treats Tom icily, saying she has to get her 10-year-old daughter to soccer. Faith and Linda had a turbulent relationship, but Linda’s been living at the estate since her messy divorce from a well-known Chicago attorney, who, it’s later revealed, has a reason to want Faith dead. Tom, divorced and recently separated from his live-in partner—they broke up fighting over a cat, as she was pro-feline and he wasn’t—wastes no time sleeping with Linda’s best friend, Nora, who lived with the Wesleys decades ago after her parents died after driving their car into a lagoon—the cause of which has never been established. A lagoon-related mishap looms large in Tom’s life; when he was 13, a speedboat’s collision with a wooden raft in another lagoon caused his friend to nearly drown, and a secret about the crash continues to haunt him. This complex mystery offers much to keep the reader engaged, including compelling, flawed characters; a complicated yet believable plot touching on themes of corruption and class; strong dialogue; and a satisfying ending. The author excels at accurate details, as well—even supplying the correct number of racquetball courts in a well-known Chicago North Shore sports center. Winslow’s use of language throughout also deserves special recognition, as it’s smart, flowing, and often poetic, as when Tom, sharing his past with Nora, notes that “Dark Knowledge had to be guarded, protected like a cracked rib, shielded like an abscess.”

A fabulous, well-researched whodunit.

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-955018-19-7

Page Count: 442

Publisher: Quid Mirum Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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Generations may succeed generations, but Sandford’s patented investigation/action formula hasn’t aged a whit. Bring it on.

THE INVESTIGATOR

A domestic-terrorist plot gives the adopted daughter of storied U.S. Marshal Lucas Davenport her moment to shine.

Veteran oilman Vermilion Wright knows that losing a few thousand gallons of crude is no more than an accounting error to his company but could mean serious money to whomever’s found a way to siphon it off from wells in Texas’ Permian Basin. So he asks Sen. Christopher Colles, Chair of Homeland Security and Government Affairs, to look into it, and Colles persuades 24-year-old Letty Davenport, who’s just quit his employ, to return and partner with Department of Homeland Security agent John Kaiser to track down the thieves. The plot that right-winger Jane Jael Hawkes and her confederates, most of them service veterans with disgruntled attitudes and excellent military skills, have hatched is more dire than anything Wright could have imagined. They plan to use the proceeds from the oil thefts to purchase some black-market C4 essential to a major act of terrorism that will simultaneously express their alarm about the country’s hospitality to illegal immigrants and put the Jael-Birds on the map for good. But they haven’t reckoned with Letty, another kid born on the wrong side of the tracks who can outshoot the men she’s paired with and outthink the vigilantes she finds herself facing—and who, along with her adoptive father, makes a memorable pair of “pragmatists. Really harsh pragmatists” willing to do whatever needs doing without batting an eye or losing a night’s sleep afterward.

Generations may succeed generations, but Sandford’s patented investigation/action formula hasn’t aged a whit. Bring it on.

Pub Date: April 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-32868-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2022

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A high-octane thriller whose hero is tossed into one impossible situation after another. Best started early in the morning.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE BENNETTS

A hypernormal suburban family’s trip home from their daughter’s field hockey game leads them down a rabbit hole of criminal complications.

For some reason—maybe just because it’s a Mercedes—a pair of gunslingers pick court reporter Jason Bennett’s ride to carjack as he drives along a quiet road with his wife, photographer Lucinda, and their teenagers, Allison and Ethan. In the scuffle that follows, one of the carjackers is shot along with Allison, who dies in the hospital. Wait, it gets worse. A pair of FBI agents knocks on the Bennetts’ door at 3 a.m. to tell them that John Milo, the escaped carjacker, has framed Jason for the murder of his accomplice, George Veria Jr., in order to save himself from the wrath of Junior’s father, the kingpin of the George Veria Organization. Time is of the essence, the agents assure Jason and Lucinda: They have to leave their house and their old lives behind right now and go into the witness protection program. Sure enough, minutes after the three shellshocked Bennetts allow themselves to be driven off, a representative of the GVO sets fire to their house and follows up with a similar fire at Jason's office, and Lucinda’s office is vandalized. Warned off social media, the Bennetts can only watch helplessly as their friends and neighbors issue pleas for them to get in touch and self-styled “citizen detective” Bryan Krieger decides to launch his own freelance investigation, fueled by slanderous innuendo. Every time Jason thinks he’s finally got the situation figured out, Scottoline tosses in explosive new complications in the most relentless of all her mysteries.

A high-octane thriller whose hero is tossed into one impossible situation after another. Best started early in the morning.

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-525-53967-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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