An immersive encounter with a beloved character.

VERA KELLY

LOST AND FOUND

A former CIA agent–turned–private detective is forced to go undercover after her girlfriend is forcibly institutionalized.

The third installment in the series opens in 1971 with Vera Kelly adjusting to domestic bliss after Max, her bartender girlfriend, moves in with her in Brooklyn. Formerly a bit of a loner, Vera suddenly has a community. When Max gets a letter from her sister saying their parents are splitting up, she feels compelled to return to Los Angeles for the first time since she came out and her wealthy family refused to accept her sexuality, and she asks Vera to join her. When they arrive in Bel Air, a host of new characters greet them: Max’s stern father now has a much-younger fiancee, and there’s also a friend who lives on the property and has grand plans for spending the family fortune. When Vera wakes up one morning after Max had a fight with her father to find Max gone from the property, she panics, and then a message comes with the worst possible news: Max is in a hospital, which turns out to be a private sanatorium owned by her family. Vera goes undercover, admitting herself as a patient in hopes of rescuing Max, and she’s reminded of her own time in juvenile detention and her strained relationship with her mother. Knecht’s lively prose moves easily between Vera’s experiences with Max’s cold and homophobic family to her memories of being a teenager with a distant and unforgiving mother, effectively creating an atmosphere of danger and uncertainty as Vera and Max work to survive and reunite. Knecht has crafted an intriguing title character, and it's a pleasure to watch Vera allow herself to be devoted to a partner and to trust in the life they have built together.

An immersive encounter with a beloved character.

Pub Date: June 21, 2022

ISBN: 9781953534163

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Tin House

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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Enjoyable storytelling by two masters of the craft.

22 SECONDS

Lindsay Boxer faces a ton of trouble in the latest entry in Patterson and Paetro’s Women’s Murder Club series.

Senior crime reporter Cindy Thomas is writing a biography of Evan Burke, a notorious serial killer who sits in solitary confinement in San Quentin. She’s kidnapped by thugs wanting her to talk about her best friend, Lindsay Boxer, who’s an SFPD homicide detective and the story’s main character. San Francisco has a restrictive new gun law, and gun-totin’ folks everywhere have their boxer shorts in a twist. A national resistance movement has formed—Defenders of the Second—whose motto is “We will not comply.” They find it outrageous that the new law makes it illegal to own a gun that can kill 50 people with a single clip. Meanwhile, lots of bodies show up: A young girl disappears and is later found dead in a ditch, and ex-cops are found dead with their lips stapled shut and “You talk, you die” written on their foreheads. An inmate is found hanged in prison. And “a massive but unspecified load of military-style weaponry was en route from Mexico to the City by the Bay.” In a “frustrating, multipronged case,” there’s a harrowing shootout memorialized in a video showing “twenty-two of the scariest seconds” of Boxer’s life. She’s an appealing series hero with loving family and friends, but she may arrive at a crossroads where she has “to choose between my work and [my] baby girl.” The formulaic story has unmemorable writing, but it’s entertaining and well told. You probably won’t have to worry about the main characters, who have thus far survived 21 adventures. Except for the little girl, you can expect people to get what they deserve. It's relatively mild as crime novels go, but the women characters are serious, strong, and admirable.

Enjoyable storytelling by two masters of the craft.

Pub Date: May 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-49937-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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Top-drawer crime fiction. The authors are tough on the hero, but the hero is tough.

THE RED BOOK

Patterson and Ellis put their characters through hell in this hard-edged second installment of their Black Book series after The Black Book (2017).

A young girl is one of four people gunned down in a “very, very bad” K-Town drive-by shooting in Chicago. Police are under intense political pressure to solve it, so Detective Billy Harney is assigned to the Special Operations Section to put the brakes on the gang violence on the West Side. His new partner is Detective Carla Griffin, whom colleagues describe as “sober as an undertaker” and “as fun as a case of hemorrhoids.” And she looks like the last thing he needs, a pill popper. (But is she?) Department muckety-mucks want Harney to fail, and Griffin is supposed to spy on him. The poor guy already has a hell of a backstory: His daughter died and his wife committed suicide (or did she?) four years earlier, he’s been shot in the head, charged with murder (and exonerated), and helped put his own father in prison. (Nothing like a tormented hero!) Now the deaths still haunt him while he and Griffin begin to suspect they’re not looking at a simple turf war starring the Imperial Gangster Nation. Meanwhile, the captain in Internal Affairs is deep in the pocket of some bad guys who run an international human trafficking ring, and he loathes Harney. The protagonist is lucky to have Patti, his sister and fellow detective, as his one reliable friend who lets him know he’s being set up. The authors do masterful work creating flawed characters to root for or against, and they certainly pile up the troubles for Billy Harney. Abundant nasty twists will hold readers’ rapt attention in this dark, violent, and fast-moving thriller.

Top-drawer crime fiction. The authors are tough on the hero, but the hero is tough.

Pub Date: March 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-49940-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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