A document of unquestioned historical importance that only the most devoted genre fans will read for fun.

THE DEAD LETTER

A title with a strong claim to be America’s very first detective novel, first published in 1866, returns to print again.

As Leslie S. Klinger’s lucid introduction indicates, Regester is one of the many pseudonyms used by Metta Victoria Fuller Victor (1831-1885), a fabulously prolific dime novelist whose sagas combined adventure, crime, sensation, and the supernatural in varying proportions. But the conventions of this tale are very much those of the formal detective story. After a prologue showing how Richard Redfield, a clerk in the dead letter office, is electrified when he opens and reads a cryptic undelivered letter, Regester flashes back two years to the fatal stabbing of Henry Moreland. The victim’s fiancee, Eleanor Argyll, can’t help suspecting Redfield of the crime although, or because, he’s practically one of the family: a law student who works in the chambers of her father, Blankville attorney John Argyll, and happens to be sweet on Eleanor himself. Although the first clues implicate not Redfield but young seamstress Leesy Sullivan, Argyll, upon discovering that he’s been robbed of $2,000, asks Redfield to engage Mr. Burton, a noted detective, to look into the crimes. Burton follows the trail of the killer downstate to Manhattan, out west, and, with remarkable abruptness, to Acapulco before he identifies both the miscreant who stabbed Henry Moreland to death and the even more despicable client who hired the murderer. Conscientious, intuitive Burton, who prides himself on his ability to “feel the presence of criminals,” is no threat to Sherlock Holmes or even Ebenezer Gryce, and the only readers fooled by the solution will be those expecting twists that never arrive.

A document of unquestioned historical importance that only the most devoted genre fans will read for fun.

Pub Date: June 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4642-1497-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Poisoned Pen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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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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Combines disarming sensitivity to the nuances of the tangled relations among the characters with sledgehammer plotting.

FALSE WITNESS

A master of the no-holds-barred law enforcement thriller turns to legal intrigue, with shattering results.

A week before he’s to stand trial for the aggravated assault and rape of DataTel district manager Tammy Karlsen, car-dealership scion Andrew Tenant fires his lawyer and asks for a new one: Leigh Collier, a rising star at an Atlanta white-shoe firm. Originally baffled by the request, Leigh quickly realizes that her new client has a special reason to have asked for her: He’s recognized her from a magazine photo as the older sister of Callie, the babysitter who killed his father, Buddy Waleski, when his latest pedophile assault on her turned violent 23 years ago. In fact, the truth is even darker than that. Leigh was an active participant in the killing. Now she's determined to do everything she can to torpedo the defense she's preparing for Andrew, who’s accused of stabbing Tammy Karlsen in exactly the way Callie stabbed his father, while persuading both her client and her watchful senior partner that she’s doing her utmost to represent him. As she learns more and more particulars about the case and her client, Leigh realizes that her plan doesn’t go nearly far enough. Andrew is guilty of this assault and others, but he doesn’t just want her to get him off: He plans to blackmail her into complying with a potentially endless series of demands. How can she strike back at a monster who holds all the cards? Only by tapping into the depthless power of sisterhood with Callie, who’s descended into addiction but still loves Leigh with a ferocity that makes the pair of them as dangerous as the man who’s targeted them.

Combines disarming sensitivity to the nuances of the tangled relations among the characters with sledgehammer plotting.

Pub Date: July 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-285809-2

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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