Like the denizens of its imagined retirement community, you just can’t keep this franchise down.
Mike Hammer goes west.
Celebrating both his secretary/partner/lover Velda Sterling’s return from a long absence in the early 1960s and his own comeback from a protracted period of drying out, Hammer is out Christmas shopping with Velda and her mother, Mildred Sterling, when Mildred is hit by a car and sent to the hospital. Unlike the driver who struck her, she’s not dead, and summoning the couple to the side of her hospital bed, she unreels a revised version of Velda’s origin story: Velda’s father wasn’t unassuming Roger Sterling but Rhinegold Massey, Mildred’s mobbed-up first husband. After evading a prison term for his part in an armored car robbery by turning on his co-conspirators and getting whisked off to Dreamland Park, an Arizona retirement community whose entire population is in the witness protection program, Rhino, now rechristened Rainer Miller, suffered a fatal heart attack after a mugging two months ago. Putting aside his initial assumption that he was the target of the driver who nearly killed Mildred, Hammer decides to head out to Dreamland Park to ask questions, and Velda decides, over his objections, to accompany him. Longtime fans of the franchise begun by Spillane and continued by Collins, working once more from his late friend’s drafts and notes, will anticipate that asking questions will be the least interesting thing Hammer and Velda do among the surprisingly spry and unsurprisingly felonious residents of Dreamland Park. The amusing conceit of a town for snitches allows full rein for Hammer’s signature blend of violence, chastely described lust, and revenge served cold, with several surprising twists thrown in as a bonus.Like the denizens of its imagined retirement community, you just can’t keep this franchise down.
Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2023
Page Count: 304
Publisher: Titan Books
Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023
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by Lisa Jewell ‧ RELEASE DATE: Aug. 8, 2023
It's hard to read but hard to look away from.
When two women who share a birthday meet, a journalist becomes the subject of her own true-crime mystery.
On their 45th birthdays, Josie Fair and Alix Summer meet at a pub and discover they were born not only on the same day, but in the same hospital. Alix is a successful journalist, and Josie convinces Alix that her story is worth telling: Josie met her husband when she was 13 and he was 40. “I can see that maybe I was being used, that maybe I was even being groomed?” she confesses to Alix. “But that feeling of being powerful, right at the start, when I was still in control. I miss that sometimes. I really do. And what I’d like, more than anything, is to get it back.” From this premise Alix creates a Netflix series, Hi! I’m Your Birthday Twin! which investigates Josie’s life as she reconciles what happened to her as a teen and seeks a new path. With the story unfinished, the narrative unfolds in the present tense, with prose that jingles like song lyrics: “He turns to see if the girl is behind him, and sees her wishy-washy, wavy-wavy, in double vision through the glass windows of the hotel.” Alix is both intrigued and repulsed by Josie, but she initially gives her the benefit of the doubt. After all, Alix’s husband, Nathan, has a drinking problem, and Alix knows what it’s like to be reluctant to leave a bad situation. But Josie seems more interested in being part of Alix’s seemingly glamorous life than she is in fixing her own, and when three people end up dead and Alix’s life is turned upside down, the evidence points to Josie—and turns the TV series into a murder mystery. Transcripts from Alix’s interviews alternate with the narrative, offering increasingly varied perspectives on Josie’s story as told by her neighbors, friends, and family members. With so many versions of events, the ending shatters, leaving readers to decide whose is the truth.It's hard to read but hard to look away from.
Pub Date: Aug. 8, 2023
Page Count: 384
Review Posted Online: May 24, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2023
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by Kathy Reichs ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 17, 2020
Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.
Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.
A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.
Pub Date: March 17, 2020
Page Count: 352
Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020
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