For those who like a tricky brain teaser and aren't too picky about interesting characters or emotional realism.

FIND ME

A mystery featuring a woman with amnesia in New Jersey, a drowned fishing guide on Long Island, a 15-year-old cold case in Wichita, and much more.

In her 19th mystery, and the sixth to feature detective Ellie Hatcher, Burke has taken the kitchen-sink approach, offering a rare abundance of characters, crimes, and misdemeanors. As much as there is a protagonist, it is a woman who, years ago, was thrown from an SUV in Hopewell, New Jersey, and lost her memory. Hope Miller, as she is now known, has spent the past decade and a half under the wing of a devoted friend she met after the accident, an attorney named Lindsay who lives with a boyfriend named Scott. But as the story opens, Hope has disappeared from Hopewell without leaving Lindsay any information as to her whereabouts. Since she has no legal identity, Hope has to work under the radar; she finds a job staging properties on the East End of Long Island for a sketchy real estate agent named...oh well, turns out he's not that important. Meanwhile, there's Ellie Hatcher, the detective whose series this is. She's on vacation in St. Barth's with her boyfriend, Max, having bad dreams about her dad, a cop who committed suicide because he couldn't find Wichita's College Hill Strangler, who was later arrested and jailed. Then there's this giant home improvement chain also based in Wichita whose female CEO is running for senator...and wait, there's more! This novel seems more like the work of a beginning crime writer than one with Burke's experience. Clues, red herrings, exposition, and "things you should know" are dropped in awkwardly and obviously: "Lindsay had learned that psychological trauma or post-traumatic stress disorder could also induce dissociative fugue, or what used to be called a fugue state—a psychological condition characterized by an inability to recall one’s identity or personality." All this hand-holding aside, the book operates on what feels like a kind of anti–Occam's-razor logic, favoring the most complicated solution to any question. The good news is, there is one.

For those who like a tricky brain teaser and aren't too picky about interesting characters or emotional realism.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-285-336-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Well-done crime fiction. Baldacci nails the noir.

DREAM TOWN

An old-fashioned gumshoe yarn about Hollywood dreams and dead bodies.

Private investigator Aloysius Archer celebrates New Year’s Eve 1952 in LA with his gorgeous lady friend and aspiring actress Liberty Callahan. Screenwriter Eleanor Lamb shows up and offers to hire him because “someone might be trying to kill me.” “I’m fifty a day plus expenses,” he replies, but money’s no obstacle. Later, he sneaks into Lamb’s house and stumbles upon a body, then gets knocked out by an unseen assailant. Archer takes plenty of physical abuse in the story, but at least he doesn’t get a bullet between the eyes like the guy he trips over. A 30-year-old World War II combat veteran, Archer is a righteous and brave hero. Luck and grit keep him alive in both Vegas and the City of Angels, which is rife with gangsters and crooked cops. Not rich at all, his one luxury is the blood-red 1939 Delahaye he likes to drive with the top down. He’d bought it with his gambling winnings in Reno, and only a bullet hole in the windscreen post mars its perfection. Liberty loves Archer, but will she put up with the daily danger of losing him? Why doesn’t he get a safe job, maybe playing one of LA’s finest on the hit TV show Dragnet? Instead, he’s a tough and principled idealist who wants to make the world a better place. Either that or he’s simply a “pavement-pounding PI on a slow dance to maybe nowhere.” And if some goon doesn’t do him in sooner, his Lucky Strikes will probably do him in later. Baldacci paints a vivid picture of the not-so-distant era when everybody smoked, Joe McCarthy hunted commies, and Marilyn Monroe stirred men’s loins. The 1950s weren’t the fabled good old days, but they’re fodder for gritty crime stories of high ideals and lowlifes, of longing and disappointment, and all the trouble a PI can handle.

Well-done crime fiction. Baldacci nails the noir.

Pub Date: April 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5387-1977-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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