Lacks some of the scorching momentum of Harper's first book but is nonetheless a spooky, compelling read.

FORCE OF NATURE

A woman goes missing in the Australian wilderness in Harper’s (The Dry, 2017) second thriller to feature Agent Aaron Falk of the Federal Police.

Falk is still recovering from his last case, and the fire that burned his hand badly, when he gets a call from his new partner, Carmen Cooper, that a woman named Alice Russell has gone missing in the Giralang Ranges three hours outside Melbourne, where she had been taking part in a corporate retreat with her colleagues from the BaileyTennants accountancy firm. This sparks a grim memory for Falk: more than 20 years ago, when the policeman was a teenager, a killer named Martin Kovac littered the same area with the bodies of young women he’d murdered. Kovac couldn't have taken Alice, because he’s dead, but her disappearance dredges up some horrific memories in the collective consciousness, which adds a creepy dimension to an increasingly puzzling case. Falk and Cooper don’t work missing persons—they’re financial investigators, and Alice was helping them with a case on the down low, gathering information on her boss’s money matters. Falk can’t help worrying that her disappearance might have something do to with the investigation, especially when he realizes he has a garbled message from Alice on his phone. After Falk and Cooper join the search, they discover that Alice’s problems with her co-workers went beyond the professional and that tensions ran as deep and wide as the wilderness she's lost in. Harper’s crackerjack plotting propels the story, splitting the narrative between Alice and her BaileyTennants co-workers navigating the team-building exercise—and their own secrets—in the days leading up to her disappearance and Falk and Cooper’s look into the untoward financial doings of the company’s CEO, Daniel Bailey. Harper layers her story with hidden depths, expertly mining the distrust between Alice and her four colleagues, and the secrets that simmer under the surface.

Lacks some of the scorching momentum of Harper's first book but is nonetheless a spooky, compelling read.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-10563-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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An undisciplined but powerfully lacerating story, by an author who knows every block of the neighborhood and every hair on...

MYSTIC RIVER

After five adventures for Boston shamus Patrick Kenzie and his off-again lover Angela Gennaro (Prayers for Rain, 1999, etc.), Lehane tries his hand at a crossover novel that’s as dark as any of Patrick’s cases.

Even the 1975 prologue is bleak. Sean Devine and Jimmy Marcus are playing, or fighting, outside Sean’s parents’ house in the Point neighborhood of East Buckingham when a car pulls up, one of the two men inside flashes a badge, and Sean and Jimmy’s friend Dave Boyle gets bundled inside, allegedly to be driven home to his mother for a scolding but actually to get kidnapped. Though Dave escapes after a few days, he never really outlives his ordeal, and 25 years later it’s Jimmy’s turn to join him in hell when his daughter Katie is shot and beaten to death in the wilds of Pen Park, and State Trooper Sean, just returned from suspension, gets assigned to the case. Sean knows that both Dave and Jimmy have been in more than their share of trouble in the past. And he’s got an especially close eye on Jimmy, whose marriage brought him close to the aptly named Savage family and who’s done hard time for robbery. It would be just like Jimmy, Sean knows, to ignore his friend’s official efforts and go after the killer himself. But Sean would be a lot more worried if he knew what Dave’s wife Celeste knows: that hours after catching sight of Katie in the last bar she visited on the night of her death, Dave staggered home covered with somebody else’s blood. Burrowing deep into his three sorry heroes and the hundred ties that bind them unbearably close, Lehane weaves such a spellbinding tale that it’s easy to overlook the ramshackle mystery behind it all.

An undisciplined but powerfully lacerating story, by an author who knows every block of the neighborhood and every hair on his characters’ heads.

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2001

ISBN: 0-688-16316-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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Joe’s fifth case is his best balanced, most deeply felt and most mystifying to date: an absolute must.

OUT OF RANGE

Crime-fighting Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett outdoes himself during a temporary transfer from sleepy Saddlestring to fashionable Jackson Hole.

Will Jensen, the Jackson game warden, was a great guy and a model warden, but once his wife left him six months ago, he spiraled into madness and suicide, and now Joe’s been called to replace him. The transition is anything but smooth. There’s no question of Joe’s family coming with him, so he’s reduced to hoping he can get a signal for the cell-phone calls he squeezes into his busy schedule. En route to his new posting, Joe has to pursue a marauding grizzly. He arrives to meet a formidable series of challenges. Cantankerous outfitter Smoke Van Horn wants to go on attracting elk with illegal salt licks without the new warden’s interference. Animal Liberation Network activist Pi Stevenson wants him to publicize her cause and adopt a vegan diet. Developer Don Ennis wants to open a housing development for millionaires who like their meat free of additives. Ennis’s trophy wife Stella simply wants Joe—and he wants her back. As he wrestles with these demands, and with a supervisor riled over Joe’s track record of destroying government property in pursuit of bad guys (Trophy Hunt, 2004, etc.), Joe slowly becomes convinced that Will did not kill himself.

Joe’s fifth case is his best balanced, most deeply felt and most mystifying to date: an absolute must.

Pub Date: May 5, 2005

ISBN: 0-399-15291-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

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