Kane delivers yet again for fans of fine art and whodunits.

AUTOMAT

Lily Sparks is back in this latest mystery installment, tracking down a killer inspired by Edward Hopper’s paintings.

Ex-attorney Lily is the conservator of paintings at the Denver Art Museum, which is gearing up for a major Hopper exhibit. To gin up excitement before the opening, the museum staff plans a series of tableaux vivants of selected paintings at venues around the city, but with a twist: The static scenes with actors will each transform into a short playlet in the spirit of the painting. The first, “Automat,” is a great success—until Lily finds the actor backstage with her throat cut. Who did it? And should the three remaining tableaux still go on? Lily wants to cancel them but she’s overruled, which means that each one will be an invitation for the murderer to strike again. As Lily tries to narrow down the possible suspects, she also tries to get her erstwhile boyfriend, FBI agent Paul Reilly, to come back to Denver from Washington, D.C.—and hopefully, back into her life. Soon, another actor is killed, and one of Lily’s friends gets pushed in front of a car. For the final tableau, Lily makes herself the bait, leading to a tense climax and a conclusion that’s a bit far-fetched but certainly apt. Kane knows how to build suspense, and she’s adept at scattering red herrings throughout the narrative. This new outing is very similar to her previous book, A Perfect Eye (2019), in some ways; it not only features the same cast of characters, but also portrays a sick villain who’s drawn to the works of a particular painter, and it reuses the shtick of occasionally providing the killer’s interior monologues. That said, the latter device is still chilling, and it still works. Readers may also learn a lot about Hopper, as well—a contained man whose paintings speak volumes about solitude and, often, desperation. Over the course of this book, those paintings are shown to be as much an intellectual as an aesthetic experience.

Kane delivers yet again for fans of fine art and whodunits. (acknowledgements, author bio)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 157

Publisher: COLD HARD PRESS

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

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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Crave chills and thrills but don’t have time for a King epic? This will do the job before bedtime. Not that you’ll sleep.

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LATER

Horrormeister King follows a boy’s journey from childhood to adolescence among the dead—and their even creepier living counterparts.

Jamie Conklin sees dead people. Not for very long—they fade away after a week or so—but during that time he can talk to them, ask them questions, and compel them to answer truthfully. His uncanny gift at first seems utterly unrelated to his mother Tia’s work as a literary agent, but the links become disturbingly clear when her star client, Regis Thomas, dies shortly after starting work on the newest entry in his bestselling Roanoke Saga, and Tia and her lover, NYPD Detective Liz Dutton, drive Jamie out to Cobblestone Cottage to encourage the late author to dictate an outline of his latest page-turner so that Tia, who’s fallen on hard times, can write it in his name instead of returning his advance and her cut. Now that she’s seen what Jamie can do, Liz takes it on herself to arrange an interview in which Jamie will ask Kenneth Therriault, a serial bomber who’s just killed himself, where he’s stowed his latest explosive device before it can explode posthumously. His post-mortem encounter with Therriault exacts a high price on Jamie, who now finds himself more haunted than ever, though he never gives up on the everyday experiences in which King roots all his nightmares.

Crave chills and thrills but don’t have time for a King epic? This will do the job before bedtime. Not that you’ll sleep.

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7890-9649-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Hard Case Crime

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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