The plot, like so many of Doc’s recent adventures, tends to wind down rather than up, but a good time is had by all.

SALT RIVER

Two distinct sets of chickens come home to roost for Sanibel Island marine biologist Dr. Marion Ford and his improbably wealthy beach-bum pal Tomlinson (Caribbean Rim, 2018, etc.).

Delia Carapoulos is a beautiful young woman, a recent graduate of Eckerd College, a starry-eyed fan of Tomlinson's, and also, according to her, his biological daughter, a revelation that shocks him out of his desultory amatory fantasies about the nubile visitor. In fact, she’s only the advance guard of a tidal wave of offspring made possible by Tomlinson’s endless sperm donations a generation ago. Now the anything-but-proud papa’s data has been released to several of the children looking to track him down, not all of them happy about the news of their paternity. One reputed son, Jayden F. Griffin, makes such an impression on his arrival at Sanibel that he’s hauled off by the feds and charged with terrorism and murder. By the time Tomlinson finally appeals to Doc Ford for help, his buddy is awash in an equally unwelcome reprise of his own past: the appearance of several variously threatening characters convinced that he can lead them to late, legendary treasure hunter Jimmy Jones’ lost millions. All right, Leo Alomar, the first of these latest intruders into Doc’s life, isn’t really a special investigator with the IRS’s Whistleblower Program. But Rayvon Darwin, the lover of Alomar’s estranged wife, Nanette, really is a lieutenant with the Nassau customs agency, and Doc’s only hope of thwarting his search for Lydia Johnson, the treasure hunter’s widow Doc helped to disappear, may be to assume the role of Morris Berg, the informant Ray wants to engage to get information that will sink Doc—unless of course he discovers that Morris and Doc are one and the same.

The plot, like so many of Doc’s recent adventures, tends to wind down rather than up, but a good time is had by all.

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-735-21272-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Too much drama at the end detracts from a finely wrought and subtle conundrum.

THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10

Ware (In A Dark, Dark Wood, 2015) offers up a classic “paranoid woman” story with a modern twist in this tense, claustrophobic mystery.

Days before departing on a luxury cruise for work, travel journalist Lo Blacklock is the victim of a break-in. Though unharmed, she ends up locked in her own room for several hours before escaping; as a result, she is unable to sleep. By the time she comes onboard the Aurora, Lo is suffering from severe sleep deprivation and possibly even PTSD, so when she hears a big splash from the cabin next door in the middle of the night, “the kind of splash made by a body hitting water,” she can’t prove to security that anything violent has actually occurred. To make matters stranger, there's no record of any passenger traveling in the cabin next to Lo’s, even though Lo herself saw a woman there and even borrowed makeup from her before the first night’s dinner party. Reeling from her own trauma, and faced with proof that she may have been hallucinating, Lo continues to investigate, aided by her ex-boyfriend Ben (who's also writing about the cruise), fighting desperately to find any shred of evidence that she may be right. The cast of characters, their conversations, and the luxurious but confining setting all echo classic Agatha Christie; in fact, the structure of the mystery itself is an old one: a woman insists murder has occurred, everyone else says she’s crazy. But Lo is no wallflower; she is a strong and determined modern heroine who refuses to doubt the evidence of her own instincts. Despite this successful formula, and a whole lot of slowly unraveling tension, the end is somehow unsatisfying. And the newspaper and social media inserts add little depth.

Too much drama at the end detracts from a finely wrought and subtle conundrum.

Pub Date: July 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-3293-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scout Press/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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Greed, love, and extrasensory abilities combine in two middling mysteries.

LABYRINTH

Coulter’s treasured FBI agents take on two cases marked by danger and personal involvement.

Dillon Savitch and his wife, Lacey Sherlock, have special abilities that have served them well in law enforcement (Paradox, 2018, etc.). But that doesn't prevent Sherlock’s car from hitting a running man after having been struck by a speeding SUV that runs a red light. The runner, though clearly injured, continues on his way and disappears. Not so the SUV driver, a security engineer for the Bexholt Group, which has ties to government agencies. Sherlock’s own concussion causes memory loss so severe that she doesn’t recognize Savitch or remember their son, Sean. The whole incident seems more suspicious when a blood test from the splatter of the man Sherlock hit reveals that he’s Justice Cummings, an analyst for the CIA. The agency’s refusal to cooperate makes Savitch certain that Bexholt is involved in a deep-laid plot. Meanwhile, Special Agent Griffin Hammersmith is visiting friends who run a cafe in the touristy Virginia town of Gaffers Ridge. Hammersmith, who has psychic abilities, is taken aback when he hears in his mind a woman’s cry for help. Reporter Carson DeSilva, who came to the area to interview a Nobel Prize winner, also has psychic abilities, and she overhears the thoughts of Rafer Bodine, a young man who has apparently kidnapped and possibly murdered three teenage girls. Unluckily, she blurts out her thoughts, and she’s snatched and tied up in a cellar by Bodine. Bodine may be a killer, but he’s also the nephew of the sheriff and the son of the local bigwig. So the sheriff arrests Hammersmith and refuses to accept his FBI credentials. Bodine's mother has psychic powers strong enough to kill, but she meets her match in Hammersmith, DeSilva, Savitch, and Sherlock.

Greed, love, and extrasensory abilities combine in two middling mysteries.

Pub Date: July 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-9365-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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