Fiction from Box, Hughes, Rotella, and Debuters Kiernan and Viskic | Xpress Reviews

Another hit for storyteller extraordinaire Box; this English-village drama is packed with threads to unravel straight to the end; this solid Irish procedural is clearly set up for a series; for fans of tough crime fiction; fans of Australian crime writers such as Peter Temple and Jane Harper will want this

Week ending March 9, 2018


starred review starBox, C.J. The Disappeared: A Joe Pickett Novel. Putnam. Mar. 2018. 400p. ISBN 9780399176623. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780698410114. MYS

In Box’s 18th series installment (after Vicious Circle), Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett finds himself once again working on special assignment for the governor. Newly elected, Colter Allen is a man with a not-so-sterling past, a short temper, and little patience, especially for Joe Pickett. The CEO of a British ad agency disappeared after leaving the Silver Creek Ranch, and Joe’s task is to find her. Joe’s eldest daughter, Sheridan, works at the ranch, and Pickett family friend Nate Romanowski is also in nearby Saratoga and needs Joe’s help. The facets of this story are many: falconers seeking permits to hunt with eagles, mysterious goings-on at a local lumber mill, an exclusive guest ranch that caters to the one percent, a missing British citizen, state politics, a wind farm with thousands of turbines expanding its acreage, and Joe’s mother-in-law, Missy VanKueran. Box neatly links all these disparate components, and his wrap-up will leave his many readers breathless.

Verdict Another hit for storyteller extraordinaire Box, and series fans and aficionados of Craig Johnson’s “Walt Longmire” mysteries will cheer.—Patricia Ann Owens, formerly with Illinois Eastern Community Coll., Mt. Carmel


Hughes, Kathryn. The Secret. Headline. Mar. 2017. 416p. ISBN 9781472229991. pap. $13.99; ebk. ISBN 9781472229984. F

Best-selling author Hughes (The Letter) returns with a story spanning 40 years. In 1975 Blackpool, England, Mary Roberts’s dreams of starting a family with her childhood sweetheart Thomas collapse in one tragic day, the day she was to tell him she was pregnant. An explosion in the mines takes his life; the trauma takes the life of her baby and sends her reeling. Fast-forward to 2016, the scene of Mary’s funeral. Her daughter, Beth, faces a medical crisis in her family and neither she nor her husband, Michael, has been able to uncover the identity of her father, the last hope they have to trace a potential kidney donor for their ailing son. As Beth combs through Mary’s belongings for a clue, she comes across an odd letter and newspaper clipping that take her on strange journey, and she begins to piece together secrets from her past.

Verdict After a slow start that gains speed and traction, this English-village drama is packed with threads to unravel straight to the end. For fans of Fredrik Backman’s My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry. [See also “Editors’ Spring Picks,” LJ 2/1/18, p. 31.]—Julie Kane, Washington & Lee Lib., Lexington, VA


Kiernan, Olivia. Too Close To Breathe. Dutton. Apr. 2018. 304p. ISBN 9781524742614. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781524742621. MYS

[DEBUT] Fresh from a traumatic on-the-job injury, DCS Frankie Sheehan heads to the scene of Prof. Eleanor Costello’s death in a quiet Dublin suburb. Was it a suicide? Murder? The autopsy reveals old stab wounds and peculiar blue paint. Costello’s husband is mysteriously absent, and her PhD assistant is particularly evasive. Research revealing possible links to a sadistic site within the deep web indicates that Eleanor has guarded her life very carefully. What was that blue paint and why has it turned up on yet another corpse? Frankie’s recent experience as a victim makes her wary, but the connections among these murders are hard to ignore. Is husband Peter a victim or a suspect? Kiernan’s debut thriller is a fast and bumpy ride!

Verdict This solid Irish procedural is clearly set up for a series. Frankie Sheehan and her team are likable and credible, and the Dublin setting is very appealing. An enjoyable follow-up for readers of Tana French. [See Prepub Alert, 10/22/17.]—Susan Clifford Braun, Bainbridge Island, WA


starred review starRotella, Sebastian. Rip Crew. Mulholland: Little, Brown. Mar. 2018. 336p. ISBN 9780316505536. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780316505505. THRILLER

Former U.S. Border Patrol agent Valentine Pescatore traverses diverse locales, cultures, and personal challenges in this sequel to Triple Crossing. The title refers to gangs who ruthlessly pillage human merchandise from other human traffickers. When one such crew mercilessly executes ten African women in a motel on the Mexico-U.S. border for no apparent reason, Pescatore’s investigation unveils ties between these shootings and a powerful conglomerate led by business scion Perry Blake. Discovering that two of the abducted women have escaped the massacre, Valentine tracks down Eritrean refugee Abrihet Anbessa, a witness holding damning evidence against the Blake Group. Moving from the Guatemala-Mexico border to Washington, DC, and then to Italy and La Jolla, CA, Pescatore’s relentless campaign to find Anbessa and expose Blake concludes with several unexpected twists.

Verdict Gritty dialog rings convincingly with authenticity as Rotella playfully inspects multiple layers of meaning inherent in dialects, news stories, and eyewitness accounts. For fans of tough crime fiction in the tradition of T. Jefferson Parker.—Jeffrey W. Hunter, Royal Oak, MI


starred review starViskic, Emma. Resurrection Bay. Pushkin Vertigo. Apr. 2018. 272p. ISBN 9781782273622. pap. $18.95; ebk. ISBN 9781782273752. MYS

[DEBUT] Caleb Zelic is deaf but that doesn’t stop him from working as a private investigator in Melbourne, Australia. He and partner Frankie, a former police officer, are reeling from the death of Caleb’s friend Gary, who was a cop moonlighting for them. The police are initially suspicious of Caleb since he found the body, but after he and Frankie are themselves attacked, the pair start investigating. Through interviewing anyone who might be connected to the murder, Caleb is able to use his skills at reading people to good effect. Surprisingly, the case has a connection to Caleb’s hometown of Resurrection Bay. Awkward reunions with his ex-wife and recovering addict brother complicate the investigation, as does the disappearance of Frankie. After learning some secrets of his late friend’s life, Caleb is no longer sure whom he can trust as the stakes get higher and he gets closer to the mastermind behind everything.

Verdict Winner of the 2016 Ned Kelly Award for Best Debut, this is a compelling mystery with an even more compelling detective. Caleb’s disability hinders his work at times, but many of the skills he has learned to compensate help him read people and situations in ways others cannot. Fans of Australian crime writers such as Peter Temple and Jane Harper will want this.Dan Forrest, Western Kentucky Univ. Libs., Bowling Green

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