RaveSouth Florida Sun SentinelA bleak setting to be sure, but brilliantly explored as Pochoda burrows deep into her characters’ psyche ... Pochoda sifts through myriad literary tropes, including allusions to Macbeth, mythology, even a bit of a Greek chorus, while not losing sight that Sing Her Down is a crime novel ... Her staccato writing further elevates the novel and is reminiscent of James Ellroy’s style, only more refined.
RaveSouth Florida Sun SentinelHumor melded with suspense isn’t easy to sustain but Barry makes Swamp Story work throughout ... Barry also gives his supporting characters their moments to shine — or make fools of themselves.
Lev AC Rosen
RaveSouth Florida Sun SentinelA tense character-driven story ... Rosen sculpts fully realized characters ... Each character’s personal struggles are expertly shown. Like in most families, there are squabbles, pettiness and annoyances punctuating every day, but there also is pure, unconditional love and acceptance that elevate Lavender House. Rosen leaves the door open for what would be a most welcomed sequel.
PositiveShelf Awareness... Ware brings readers another gripping first-class psychological thriller ... delves into class differences, friendship and the pleasures and perils of trusting others and even yourself--all packed in a tense, character-driven plot ... Ware\'s believable twists further elevate The It Girl.
PositiveThe South Florida Sun Sentinel... a thoughtful, quite serious story with only a few snatches of humor about a young woman seeking to belong, friendship and animal sanctuaries run with good intentions ... quickly evolves into a quintessential Florida novel, utilizing the state’s rural environs, far from beaches or theme parks ... Rogers keeps the story moving with a brisk hand while allowing Jamie’s personality to develop as she becomes devoted to Atlas and the women. Her worries about the refuge devastate her but also give her a strength she didn’t know she had ... ushers in a new talent who knows the quirkiness of the Sunshine State.
PositiveThe South Florida Sun-Sentinel\"While the mystery element becomes murky and eventually lost, An Honest Living is more a lyrical valentine to New York City and literature. Allusions to works by Joseph Conrad, Edith Wharton, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain and Cormac McCarthy play heavily in the plot, which is more cerebral than based in solid action.\
Sarah Stewart Taylor
PositiveShelf Awareness... terrific ... Taylor creates a full portrait of the appealing Maggie and her family, reveling in her characters\' intelligence and emotional landscapes, while balancing domestic scenes with a police investigation. By exploring the Irish community and its history as related to Rosscliffe House, Taylor gives readers a vivid, enthralling look at Ireland. These are characters that readers will want to revisit.
RaveShelf AwarenessExcellent ... Resplendent with myriad twists in a multilayered plot combining domestic suspense with the spy novel ... Two Nights in Lisbon spins on the various points of view of its realistic characters and an outlandish, though believable, plot that Pavone takes in unusual directions ... Pavone\'s sophisticated plotting delivers a superb thriller in Two Nights in Lisbon.
PositiveShelf AwarenessDeliciously creepy ... Superb ... Downes makes Pine Ridge simultaneously a paradise and a frightening enclave.
RaveThe South Florida Sun SentinelBrown returns to the family thriller for an intense story in keeping with a current trend in mysteries — a low-boil plot that is big on tension and the connections between people but has little, or, as Brown has chosen, no violence. Yet sinister doings lay just below the surface. This tack worked well in her best-seller Pretty Things and excels in I’ll Be You ... Brown’s investment in her characters and the family dynamic elevate I’ll Be You ... moves at steady pace, moving from the twins’ childhood to their adult lives, as Brown engulfs the reader in the sisters’ lives.
RaveThe South Florida Sun Sentitnel... clever and dark ... Rothchild’s unrepentant killer quickly seduces the reader through Ruby’s intelligent reasoning, and, oddly enough, compassion, even when her actions are repellant. Rothchild augments her breezy approach with tinges of dark storytelling. Blood Sugar also is a story about a strong marriage and how grief affects people differently ... Rooting for Ruby is akin to viewers’ feelings toward Walter White in Breaking Bad. No matter what Ruby does, the reader stays on her side ... Strong characters, especially Ruby, complement Blood Sugar, as does Rothchild’s vivid use of the Miami setting.
RaveSun SentinelPhillips’ knack for making the past feel immediate is on point in the well-plotted One-Shot Harry, his first novel about Harry Ingram ... Phillips vividly depicts 1963 L.A ... Phillips’ insight into racism, attitudes toward Black veterans, the Civil Rights movement, Black press and politics of the 1960s elevates One-Shot Harry. Readers will look forward to more camera work from Harry, and Phillips.
PositiveShelf AwarenessIntriguing ... As their personalities emerge, neither Duncan nor Gina is particularly likable, but Kirman\'s investment in well-placed twists and several surprising revelations uplifts the couple\'s story ... [A] clever thriller.
PositiveShelf Awareness... superb ... seamlessly switches points of view from current-day Natalie and Kit to the two girls enduring an emotionally abusive childhood in the hands of a cruel father ... Wrobel ramps up the terror by making the isolation of the island, accessible only by a 75-minute ferry ride, serve as a substitute for a haunted house, allowing This Might Hurt to be an unusual locked-room mystery. A clever denouement packs a blood-curdling punch.
PositiveShelf AwarenessCaroline Frost\'s impressive debut novel, Shadows of Pecan Hollow, provides a comprehensive look at a woman who...is taken in by a charming criminal until she finds the courage to break away ... Although the plot momentarily stalls in the novel\'s midsection, Frost\'s skill at sculpting a character both sympathetic and prickly shines in Shadows of Pecan Hollow.
PositiveShelf AwarenessEntertaining ... No one tells the truth in The Lying Club, which Ward elevates with clever twists and deep character studies. The characters undergo believable metamorphoses, with Ward showing their public and private sides--and how it all leads to murder.
RaveThe South Florida Sun Sentinel... works well as a history of comic books — did you know that noir master Patricia Highsmith wrote comics? — as well as a look at New York during the mid-1970s and Carmen’s quest for her own identity ... Segura’s respect for the comic industry shines as he shows how this medium evolved into the more sophisticated graphic novel ... as engaging as Michael Chabon’s 2001 Pulitzer winner The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. Segura’s sense of authenticity will have readers welcoming more thrillers set in the comic book world.
PositiveSun SentinelBonnie Kistler puts a modern spin on this venerable category ... Kistler...ladles on the suspense in a strong plot that accelerates with each chapter. The Cage also explores corporate intrigue, shady business deals and how even the most innocent of actions can look suspicious when put under the glare of an investigation ... Kistler keeps the suspense high ... The Cage releases myriad twists as it leads to a surprising finale.
RaveSouth Florida Sun SentinelLaura Lippman’s chronicles of Baltimore—and the human heart—shine in this collection of 12 short stories that examine betrayal and emotional blackmail that can spiral out of control ... The amusing, twisty \'Just One More\' is the perfect finale to this collection ... Long-time fans of Lippman will devour “Seasonal Work,” which also serves as an entry point for new Lippman readers.
PositiveSun Sentinel...tightly coiled ... akin to the talky, but fascinating, movie My Dinner With Andre — if that conversation took place in an airport lounge instead of a fancy restaurant. Elements of Strangers on a Train also weave through ... Mouth to Mouth delivers a tidy story that also will make readers wonder how much of Jeff’s story is true and how much is just a good yarn.
RaveSouth Florida Sun Sentinel... a confident, enthralling fiction debut ... If Kapelke-Dale doesn’t make you yearn for a trip to the City of Lights, nothing will. Calling the complicated, sometimes prickly, often fascinating Delphine a heroine might be a stretch ... Betrayals, secrets and jealousies—a lot of jealousies—seep throughout the tightly coiled plot. The slow-boil story builds to an act of violence that is surprising, but expected ... The insular world of ballet has been the background for two stellar mysteries: Megan Abbott’s The Turnout and now The Ballerinas.
RaveSouth Florida Sun Sentinel... outstanding ... Connelly’s affinity for creating strong, realistic women characters shines in Renée. She believes in Harry, respects him and considers him her mentor, but she also is her own person, willing to go out on a limb for an investigation, sometimes putting herself in harm. She learns with each case, and, like Harry, can make mistakes. Both are loners, but both also willing to open up to another person. Connelly wisely doesn’t make their platonic partnership always smooth, but quite realistic. As much as The Dark Hours is about Harry and Renée, the story also is about the changes in police work, how racial justice protests, the Jan. 6 insurrection and the pandemic have affected police officers, decimating morale and questioning their career choices ... Connelly has successfully delivered a generational shift since he first introduced Renée with The Late Show in 2017, illustrating a change while keeping Harry vital and important. We’ve said before that Connelly is the most consistently superior living crime fiction author. The Dark Hours just reinforces that.
RaveSouth Florida Sun SentinelGaylin imbues The Collective with solid suspense that grows from myriad twists, each of which is a surprise. Gaylin explores Camille’s emotional state with finesse, never making her a caricature but a believable person. Her friendship with the man who received Emily’s heart has become her sole lifeline with humanity. No matter what Camille does, Gaylin keeps the reader firmly on her side. The Collective careens to a perfectly noir—and totally believable—finale, showcasing Gaylin’s storytelling skills.
PositiveSouth Florida Sun SentinelAt times, The Missing Hours is an uncomfortable read but never dull as Dahl keeps the plot briskly churning ... Claudia isn’t the most sympathetic character, but Dahl succeeds in making the reader care about her ... The Missing Hours proves that money, status and fame doesn’t bring happiness or peace of mind.
RaveSouth Florida Sun Sentinel... masterful ... McDermid skillfully uses the newspaper articles to chronicle the events in Scotland, including a referendum on breaking away from the United Kingdom ... an enthralling novel and this series will, no doubt, be addictive.
Rachel Howzell Hall
RaveSouth Florida Sun Sentinel... clever ... Expertly plotted with intriguing characters ... Howzell Hall skillfully delivers an original plot with numerous surprising twists and realistic characters. Mickie’s close relationship with her loving parents contrasts with Nadia’s complicated life. She persuasively weaves in issues such as development, family dynamics and how culture is shaped by people and things, and how we become attached to objects, all while keeping the suspense churning.
RaveShelf AwarenessIn Rabbit Hole, the complicated Al becomes the ultimate unreliable narrator, as she works through her precarious psychological problems, invigorated by the chance to use her cop skills, aided by her sarcastic wit. Billingham successfully makes Al both appealing and irritating as her anger issues erupt even more while the police ignore her theories. Al\'s realization that no one wants her to solve the murders shapes her character and her recovery. The novel expertly delves into daily life in a psych ward where drugs and routine rule over treatment, and Rabbit Hole\'s stunning finale puts a new spin on Al and the plot.
PositiveSouth Florida Sun SentinelSilvia Moreno-Garcia delivers an absorbing political thriller that is the antithesis of a political thriller by concentrating on ordinary people swept up, often against their will, in the tide of activism ... Moreno-Garcia succinctly shows in Velvet Was the Night how no one can escape the effects of politics that rule the day, no matter how much they try. Issues swirl around people influencing daily actions ... Velvet Was the Night moves briskly, as readers are caught up in the trials of Maite and Elvis.
RaveSouth Florida Sun SentinelParks’ skill at creating realistic, strong characters makes the twists in Unthinkable believable as they confront evils they didn’t even know existed while proving their inner strength. Nate and Jenny’s unconditional love and respect for each other further buoy the gripping plot. And, yes, Parks makes you believe in predicting the future.
RaveShelf Awareness... exciting, multi-layered ... Atkins\'s skillful blend of an action-packed pursuit, complicated relationships and a heavy dose of compassion for the young gang elevates The Heathens.
PositiveSouth Florida Sun SentinelCharles Todd’s novels centered around WWI are mini history lessons complemented by realistic characters who put a human face on meticulous research ... Each novel...takes the reader deeper into the concerns, culture and aftermath of the Great War ... Bess, who has proved herself to be a cunning sleuth, finds few villagers willing to talk to her. Their hostility toward this Englishwoman is palpable ... In this 12th outing, Todd continues to explore new sides to Bess, an intelligent, compassionate woman who is contemplating her future in nursing now that the war is over.
RaveSouth Florida Sun SentinelMegan Abbott’s provocative, absorbing novels pull back the curtain on worlds we don’t often think of as insular, but are hotbeds of unchecked ambition, anxiety, competition, love and hate, despair and joy ... Abbott invests The Turnout with emotion as she explores the Durants, who have found ballet to be their freedom and their cage ... Abbott continues her high standards in the enthralling The Turnout.
PositiveThe South Florida SunSentinalThe well-worn trope of a person suffering amnesia receives a fresh update in The Stranger in the Mirror, thanks to appealing characters and Liv Constantine’s energetic storytelling ... While The Stranger in the Mirror, occasionally dips into cliches, Constantine imbues this fifth novel with a brisk plot, solid twists and many surprises as the author blends the psychological thriller with a terrifying domestic drama ... Constantine’s plotting skills realistic characters keep The Stranger in the Mirror entertaining.
RaveSouth Florida Sun SentinelAn action-packed story that starts strong and accelerates, Razorblade Tears also is an insightful story about racism, homophobia, parenting, classism, squandered chances and seized opportunities ... Cosby imbues Razorblade Tears with lyrical writing, offset with violence fitting the story, and even a reference to Greek mythology. While the brisk plot revolves around the hunt for the killers, Razorblade Tears is more character driven ... the best of thought-provoking fiction, character studies and hard-charging action.
Stephen Mack Jones
PositiveSouth Florida Sun SentinelThe plot kicks in to high gear when Ronaldo is killed in his office and August’s godfather is critically wounded ... Dead of Winter moves at lightning speed with crisp, smart dialogue, believable characters and an affection for Detroit and its residents. August is a hero in his neighborhood but he is no saint. The reliance on the occasional unnecessary violence sometimes mars an otherwise solid plot. Still, Hammett Prize winner Jones gives readers a character worth rooting for in what should be a long-running series.
RaveSun Sentinel...defines the term literary thriller ... Lippman sculpts Dream Girl as an homage to the writing life with a hero — who’s also a bit of an anti-hero — who is both sympathetic and, at times, unlikable. Dream Girl is a testament to imagination, to the price and perils of success that is often fleeting and sometimes comes at the sacrifice of relationships and happiness ... High tension fuels Dream Girl while vividly illustrating the humiliation of being confined to a bed, having every bodily need tended by another. The action is brisk and terrifying.
RaveSouth Florida Sun SentinelHigh tension fuels Dream Girl while vividly illustrating the humiliation of being confined to a bed, having every bodily need tended by another. The action is brisk and terrifying, coming from Gerry’s mental state and the demons he’s chasing. Edgar winner Lippman, who has won every mystery award, envelops witty dialogue, a complicated character and a complex plot in Dream Girl.
Mia P Manansala
RaveSun SentinelMia P. Manansala stirs up a lively mixture of Filipino culture, food and family bonds with an appealing heroine in her well-plotted, poignant and often sweet debut ... Manansala makes full use of the cozy, or light, category of mysteries while also delivering a realistic story. She also includes a few recipes that readers will want to try ... Amusing dinners further show the bonds among the characters and how food can express a character’s personality.
PositiveShelf Awareness... a perceptive character study. Mangan\'s accomplished second novel spins on low-boil psychological underpinnings, with a threat of violence ... The complicated dynamic between the two women, based on lies, secrets and jealousy, propels the story. Venice emerges as a strong character, with Mangan skillfully exploring the city\'s myriad facets ... also works well as a sophisticated story about friendship, the creative process and loving the unlovable.
Zakiya Dalila Harris
RaveSun SentinelThe Other Black Girl is strongest in its penetrating look at book publishing, augmented by snappy, often witty dialogue, sharply created characters and well-placed pop culture references. The hilarious — and realistic — scene in which Nella firmly but diplomatically confronts the white author’s stereotypical depiction of a young Black woman is unforgettable, as is his undiplomatic reaction ... the suspense/mystery aspects of The Other Black Girl are often confusing and feel like an afterthought ... this doesn’t detract from Harris’ intelligent story and smart turn of phrase, and a stunning ending.
RaveThe Sun SentinelLinwood Barclay’s skill at finding the dark sides of family motives takes another leap forward with his 20th novel ... Barclay melds a solid, winning plot with in-depth character studies, including his supporting characters. Miles’ first response to his diagnosis is reckless behavior — drinking too much, driving too fast (so what if the speeding tickets pile up?) and skydiving. While his decision to help his offspring is commendable, he still can’t see how ignoring those people who have always been in his life affects them ... gains its suspense from its character’s motives, not gratuitous action. Another winner from Barclay.
PositiveShelf AwarenessCarole Johnstone melds intricate family dynamics into a gripping mystery with the undercurrent of a gothic novel ... The parallels between reality and the sisters\' childhood world add heft to the plot ... Johnstone keeps Mirrorland character-driven as she explores the complicated connection between the sisters and Ross, whom they have known since they were kids, all of their personalities forged by trauma.
PositiveThe South Florida Sun SentinelAbrams doesn’t break any new ground in While Justice Sleeps, but she keeps the story entertaining and the characters fairly believable, although occasionally the writing and plot are a bit dense ... Abrams keeps the plot churning, concentrating on the myriad power plays that go on behind the scenes as she brings in greed, a controversial merger between a biotech and a genetics firm, and self-centered politicians. Those expecting Abrams to skewer only Republicans will be disappointed as she shows fault on both sides of the aisle. Abrams keeps the action in check with the story, making each death matter, even those expected, while using chess moves, intricate puzzles and even the musings of a French philosopher as plot devices.
RaveSouth Florida Sun Sentinel\"Sten keeps the terror high while evoking a realistic story with believable twists ... Believable, outright frights bolster The Lost Village. Flashbacks to the 1958 events alternate with the trials of Alice and her team—both of which show a fraying community—heighten the chilling plot. The finale is a stunning look at cruelty.
RaveThe South Florida Sun-SentinelThe pseudonymous Alex Finlay delivers a gripping debut in Every Last Fear, a thriller that derives its action from a compelling family drama touching on unconditional love, obsession and betrayal ... Finlay expertly alternates Every Last Fear between the current investigation and the past while keeping the plot character-driven, showing the flaws and betrayals of each person. Sarah’s strong marriage and family life are the lifeline from her high-pressure job. Matt’s maturation from a college student to a responsible adult are well explored. Finlay layers believable twists that lead Every Last Fear down several surprising roads. Every Last Fear introduces a new talent — if only we knew his real identity.
RaveThe South Florida Sun SentinelThe likable Angela and fluid plotting combine for a tidy story. In Death Grip, money can camouflage secrets, but bad behavior can’t be hidden forever. While Chouteau Forest is fictional, Viets captures the spirit of several St. Louis suburbs ... Viets, a St. Louis native [...] continues to show that Angela, a stroke survivor and widow, is motivated by her own loss. It’s easy to root for her growing relationship with Officer Christopher Ferretti and be amazed by the heavy workload she carries.
PositiveShelf AwarenessJohn Verdon\'s clever, cerebral mysteries about retired New York Police Department homicide detective Dave Gurney take another leap forward in On Harrow Hill; this seventh outing is part puzzle, part police procedural and all entertainment. Verdon has a knack for creating outlandish, almost unbelievable, situations that reach logical, realistic conclusions ... Larchfield emerges as a full character, as duplicitous and strange as its residents. Yet no matter how weird the circumstances of On Harrow Hill become, Verdon...retains tight control of his plot.
RaveThe South Florida Sun SentinelPinter confidently delivers a solid police procedural and an emotional domestic thriller in the outstanding A Stranger at the Door ... strikes an impressive balance, illustrating how the intelligent, resourceful Rachel handles the challenges that motherhood and her job bring ... Pinter delves deep into his characters while creating credible, realistic suspense and terror ... Strong plotting, sharp dialogue and believable characters elevate A Stranger at the Door.
PositiveThe South Florida Sun Sentinel... hile compassionate and mindful of the victims, Grippando skillfully leads the plot into a story about terrorism, capital punishment, rumors and parenting ... Grippando leads Twenty through a complex plot that maintains its sense of realism until the surprising finale. Jump-starting a story with a school shooting is a risky move, but Grippando handles it well as he builds a plot and solid suspense in another direction.
ed. by Les Standiford
RaveThe Philadelphia InquirerThe 19 stories featured in the superb Miami Noir: The Classics work as both solid entertainment and a thoughtful history about life, crime, and punishment in South Florida. Historian, author, and editor Les Standiford has assembled an intriguing collection of short stories — each of them a reprint — divided into four sections and arranged them by decades to chronicle the region’s development over 90 years. Each story illuminates South Florida’s landscape of immigration, ecology, grifters, betrayal, and fresh starts. Some characters manufacture their own peril while others are just trying to survive.
RaveSouth Florida Sun Sentinel... [a] slyly clever debut ... Andrews skillfully delves into each woman’s true personality, driving Who Is Maud Dixon? into an incisive look at ambition, greed, identity and celebrity worship ... Andrews’ wicked sense of humor and intelligent plotting deliver a briskly paced novel filled with inventive twists reminiscent of All About Eve, Gaslight and any Patricia Highsmith novel. Who Is Maud Dixon? establishes Andrews as an author to watch.
PositiveSun SentinelEach of Charles Todd’s engrossing novels about Scotland Yard Insp. Ian Rutledge, set post-World War I, puts a spotlight on often forgotten details about the Great War. It’s this minutia that illustrate the war’s effect on the characters and the region ... The tightly calibrated plot is interwoven with the Wales landscape as Ian travels to various villages, to the Telford Aqueduct where an isolated community of narrowboat men are suspicious of outsiders. Ian meets — and understands — how now-civilians are haunted by those who didn’t make it back from battle.
RaveThe South Florida Sun Sentinel... an emotional story about parenting, teenage rebellion and a stunning travel guide to the wilds of Maine, with enough adventure and action for thriller fans ... Koryta again shows his polish as a writer in Never Far Away, able to sculpt enthralling stories with believable characters and solid twists. Emotion and adventure meld perfectly in Never Far Way.
RaveSouth Florida Sun SentinelElegantly plotted with an evocative look at the area, The Survivors is a strong tale about surviving the ravages of guilt, grief, economic downturns and the tensions that can erupt from living in a tight-knit, yet claustrophobic community. In each of her novels, Australian native Jane Harper explores a different part of the country, as unique a force as any character ... Harper expertly illustrates the different landscapes of Australia, adding heft to her compelling plot and believable characters ... fine storytelling.
PositiveSouth Florida Sun SentinelWalter Mosley easily glides back to his Easy Rawlins series in this strong 15th outing ... Mosley makes 1969 a character itself, showing how the times definitely were a-changing during that volatile year ... A solid mystery, Blood Grove will show long-time readers just how much they have missed Easy.
PositiveShelf AwarenessForgiveness can be both cathartic and corrosive, depending on how one is affected by another\'s actions, as illustrated in Abigail Dean\'s gripping debut, Girl A ... Complicated relationships mired in the past accentuate the solid psychological thriller Girl A.
RaveThe Sun-SentinelLisa Unger, who lives in Clearwater, delivers a masterful mystery in Confessions on the 7:45, as she skillfully builds a multi-layered plot with myriad surprising twists. Unger’s propensity for constructing complicated, realistic characters in her 18 novels ratchets up another level. Confessions on the 7:45 is filled with believable characters who embody \'all the facets, all the glittering good folded in with the bad. . . .even the worst among us might still be worthy of love.\' The train trope has been the background for many mysteries, including Patricia Highsmith’s hate-filled Strangers on a Train and Paula Hawkins\' voyeuristic Girl on the Train. Unger makes this setting all her own in her innovative Confessions on the 7:45.
M. E. Browning
RaveNewsdayIn Shadow Ridge M.E. Browning melds an energetic police procedural and an appealing heroine set against a vivid Colorado background in this launch of a new series that shows great potential. Browning\'s affinity for realistic plotting gets a boost in Shadow Ridge, as does her skills in creating believable characters that readers will want to spend time with ... Browning skillfully weaves in sexism on the police force and among the video game aficionados and predatory professors into a tightly focused police investigation. ... Browning\'s Jo should be with readers for a long time.
PositiveThe South Florida SunSentinal... Frear seldom strays from the tenets of the police procedural in her third well-plotted novel about Det. Constable Cat Kinsella ... Frear skillfully guides Shed No Tears to a solid conclusion that is as believable as it is surprising. Beginning with her 2018 debut Sweet Little Lies, Frear has proven to be a talent to watch.
RaveThe Sun SentinelThe law of innocence is simple — and complicated — as Michael Connelly shows in his 35th novel.The Law of Innocence moves at a brisk clip, working as a legal thriller, a police procedural and a character study of Mickey ... The action never lags, even though the majority of scenes take place either in the prison or the courtroom, two claustrophobic settings ... Connelly invests deeply in his characters, using each novel to explore their psyches.With the story taking place primarily in early 2020, The Law of Innocence offers a new challenge to Connelly’s affinity for zeroing in on contemporary issues. As Connelly builds tension, he weaves in rumors of a spreading virus; people begin wearing masks and chaos erupts at the supermarket.
Intelligently plotted, The Law of Innocence again proves Connelly is a master storyteller.
Jo Nesbø, tr. Robert Ferguson
PositiveThe Sun Sentinel...intricately plotted ... Nesbø\'s affinity for dark stories takes another leap as he explores the unshakable bonds of Roy and Carl that go beyond being siblings ... With The Kingdom, Nesbø builds a slow-burn thriller that leaps to myriad twists as he peels back the brothers\' strong relationship, which is partially built on terrible secrets and tinged with violence.
Hank Phillippi Ryan
RaveSouth Florida Sun Sentinel... a tightly focused plot filled with unexpected twists ... The intersection of the characters’ various agendas delivers an intriguing plot that holds its believable surprises until the finale. The First To Lie employs the unreliable narrator with gusto, as each character lies to each other. The reader will relish trying to decide who to believe—or not.
Rachel Howzell Hall
RaveThe South Florida SunSentinal... delivers a perceptive and unique look at domestic abuse, sexism, racism and identity under the guise of a private eye novel that emphasizes character studies ... Howzell Hall’s smart plotting is fueled by the razor-sharp characters whose motives are believable ... moves at a brisk pace as Grayson’s emotional strength builds from her developing aptitude as an investigator ... takes [Hall\'s] writing to another level.
PositiveThe South Florida Sun SentinelHand fills her fourth novel in this series with many heartfelt scenes that speak to Cass’ character. A stroll down a London alley filled with independent bookstores is tailor-made for bibliophiles ... Hand’s affinity for brisk plotting keeps The Book of Lamps and Banners churning with twists and surprises leading to a finale that gives hope to Cass’ future.
PositiveThe South Florida Sun-Sentinel... the sense of reality never evaporates from Squeeze Me ... may be Hiaasen’s most political novel, and, yet, in many ways it is not. Yes, it does involve the United States president who has a massive home in Palm Beach where he and his wife spend a lot of time. But Hiaasen includes a lot of differences between fiction and reality, concentrating more on Florida’s foibles. And never once do we know the president’s party affiliation ... vintage Hiaasen — wry humor, social commentary and satire akin to Jonathan Swift, and all fun.
S. A. Cosby
RaveThe South Florida Sun SentinelBlacktop Wasteland introduces S.A. Cosby — a new talent who delivers one of the year’s strongest novels ... The noir story quickly accelerates and doesn’t lose speed until it careens to its finale. It’s a looks at race, responsibility, parenthood and identity via pin-perfect characters with realistic motives. Cosby invests Blacktop Wasteland with emotion while delivering a solid thriller ... Cosby smoothly alternates Bug’s domestic life with his criminal side. The economically strapped area of Virginia with its decaying buildings and “desiccated husks” of deserted houses enhances Blacktop Wasteland. The setting becomes a metaphor for Bug’s crumbling life: \'A blacktop wasteland haunted by the phantoms of the past.\' Blacktop Wasteland will easily make it to many best-of-the-year lists.
S. A. Cosby
RaveThe Star Tribune... one of the year’s strongest novels. The noir story quickly accelerates and doesn’t lose speed until it careens to its finale as it looks at race, responsibility, parenthood and identity via pin-perfect characters with realistic motives. Cosby invests Blacktop Wasteland with an emotional approach while delivering a solid thriller.
Sarah Stewart Taylor
RaveThe South Florida Sun Sentinel... razor-sharp ... uses the evocative background of Ireland to further explore its characters who share the Emerald Isle’s remoteness, mystique and complicated past ... smoothly alternates between 2016 and 1993 ... In addition to her intelligent characters, Taylor has sculpted The Mountains Wild as a valentine to Ireland, delving into its beauty, history and varied landscape — all of which lead to \'a warm, homecoming sort of feeling\' ... We may not be able to travel to Ireland right now, but Taylor has brought the country to us. The Mountains Wild is a terrific series launch. Readers will relish spending more time with Taylor’s storytelling and her smart characters.
PositiveThe South Florida SunSentinal... intriguing ... The briskly paced Fair Warning spins on its realistic look at journalism as Connelly, who worked as a reporter at the South Florida Sun Sentinel and the Los Angeles Times, makes the minutia of reporting exciting. Connelly is careful not to glamorize reporting — as if anyone believes it is a glamorous profession — but shows that good journalism is based on getting details right and ethics. Connelly also illustrates the energizing “addictive momentum” that a journalist often feels when a story that can right a wrong comes together ... should please fans as it fits well in Connelly’s oeuvre.
PositiveSouth Florida Sun-SentinelHillier puts a unique spin on the family thriller with a tense plot that includes a view of complicated characters as she shows in the highly entertaining Little Secrets ... also works well as a private detective novel, a kidnapping heist, a look at debilitating grief as well as a solid tale about obsession and betrayal as a family falls apart in the wake of a crime ... Hillier skillfully shows how little lies that run through the story expand and overwhelm the characters, each of whom reaches a believable arc. Aside from Sebastian, no character is completely sympathetic, nor are any of them villains. Each character struggles with human flaws and frailties that, if allowed, could destroy them ... Hillier’s clever plotting and affinity for character studies elevates Little Secrets.
RaveThe Associated PressSpencer-Fleming makes a triumphant return to her series ... It’s been seven years since her last novel, but Spencer-Fleming seamlessly continues her series, smoothly illustrating her characters’ nuances with a fresh look at them in an engrossing plot that reaches from contemporary times to past generations ... Spencer-Fleming\'s ninth novel continues a series hallmark: uncompromisingly melding her characters’ personal and professional concerns into tight plots ... Real people inhabit Spencer-Fleming’s novels with believable problems ... superb ... features believable twists that explore the complicated characters ... an outstanding addition to this solid series.
PositiveSouth Florida Sun SentinelIn his 13th novel in this series, Finch smoothly integrates the era’s politics, fashion, culture and views, including how American issues have infiltrated British society. Finch also cleverly delves into Lenox’s personality, which has fueled this beloved series.
RaveThe Associated PressThe psychological thriller Darling Rose Gold works well as an intense look at a dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship, a tale of manipulation and how one person’s devastating secrets and lies reverberate through a community and a family. Darling Rose Gold briskly moves with surprising twists as Wrobel delivers assured character studies ... Darling Rose Gold delves deep into the psyche of mother and daughter and what motivates each of them. Both are vividly sculpted as Wrobel shows Rose Gold’s lack of social skills and her difficulties at adjusting to independence from her mother, while Patty, who seems so likable, wants to regain control over her daughter.
PositiveABC NewsThe brisk plot of No Bad Deed moves with realistic twists as Cassie proves to be a credible sleuth, intent on saving her family and trying to find out why she has been targeted by Carver ... Chavez has a knack for characters that shines...as she fills her novel with flawed, authentic people whose behavior is natural ... No Bad Deed is an assured debut.
RaveAP NewsA labyrinth of a police procedural punctuated by non-stop action fuels Kathleen Kent’s second gripping novel about Dallas narcotics Detective Betty Rhyzyk. In addition to a detailed look at police work, The Burn is a solid exploration of how a cop who keeps her emotions in check recovers from a near-death experience ... Briskly paced, The Burn barely allows the reader to take a breath as believable twists careen throughout. Caustic and prickly, Betty has a propensity for confrontation and is fearless when cornered. She may not make a good friend — or life partner, just ask Jackie — but her bravery makes her the kind of cop you want on your side ... As The Burn shows, Kent is just beginning to explore Betty’s many layers.
PositiveAP News...highly gratifying ... In just five standalone novels, Dolan has garnered a reputation for intelligent plots that gently weave in action with his well-sculpted characters’ believable motives and a soupcon of humor ... The Good Killer expertly delves into each character’s psyche, showing the humanity in each. While Sean and Molly are the focus, Dolan makes it easy to understand how Harper and Khadduri are driven by revenge. An especially heartfelt — and unexpected — finale elevates The Good Killer.
PositiveNewsdayMary Kubica’s skill at melding the family drama with the psychological thriller takes another leap ... Kubica effectively uses three narrators to keep the plot churning as she delves into the psychological motives of each character. The stakes rise because there are few ways to escape the island — the ferry runs only a few times during the day ... Secrets abound in The Other Mrs. as the plot moves at a brisk pace, with believable — and surprising — twists and a startling finale.
RaveThe Associated Press... gripping, creepy ... Marwood’s extreme sense of place makes both contemporary Britain and the Ark seem both appealing and appalling sites to live. Both places can easily be considered a poison garden, depending on a person’s perception as Marwood parallels life at the Ark and the stifling, unforgiving home rules by religious fervor in which Sarah and Somer had been raised ... Marwood again shows a mastery at creating new worlds.
PositiveThe Dallas Morning News... requires readers to embrace suspension of disbelief. But the payoff is well worth it as Harris creates new countries and different timelines and challenges. Harris’ imagination is in overdrive as she takes chances with A Longer Fall and her characters ... Harris’ aim is true.
C. J. Tudor
RaveThe Associated PressDeliciously creepy, The Other People tackles grief, obsession, justice and revenge in a tight, solid plot that is full of realistic twists, melding the mystery with aspects of the supernatural ... Tudor’s expert storytelling realistically links the relentlessness of Gabe and Fran in a tale that is as terrifying as it is emotional while looking at how grief and obsession can eat at one’s soul. The Other People’s mission promises justice, but delivers only delusion. Tudor delves deep to show Gabe’s complicated history and how it affects his every move. At first, Fran seems like an out-of-control woman on the edge of a breakdown, but Tudor skillfully illustrates the complex motives that drive Fran.
RaveThe Associated Press... an exciting locked-room mystery that touches on domineering personalities, art and the #MeToo movement, helmed by an unconventional heroine ... Little’s cinematic eye and affinity for strong plotting guide the fascinating Pretty as a Picture as the author smoothly goes behind the scenes of moviemaking while delving into characters’ psyches ... Little effectively intersperses her narrative with snippets from the true-crime podcast Dead Ringer, which examines what happened on the island ... seals [Little} as an author to watch.
RaveThe Associated PressDeftly plotted with strong, vivid characters, Liz Moore’s outstanding Long Bright River works as solid crime fiction and an intense family thriller … Moore skillfully explores the sisters’ bond from their closeness during their toxic upbringing to the decay of their relationship that seems almost irreparable … The clever plot and involving characters of Long Bright River set a high standard for this new year.
PositiveSouth Florida Sun SentinelIced in Paradise, the launch of a new series, is the epitome of a traditional mystery, concentrating on character with a minimum of violence ... Hirahara’s affinity for showing the vagaries of families elevates Iced in Paradise. The Santiagos’ Japanese, Filipino and Anglo background allows Hirahara to show how the various cultures are incorporated into the family’s life ... A breathtaking view of Hawaii enhances the story ... We’ll look forward to more adventures of the Santiagos.
PositiveThe South Florida SunSentinalWorld War I is officially over, but it really isn’t as Charles Todd persuasively shows in A Cruel Deception, the 11th gripping novel featuring British nurse Bess Crawford ... Caroline and Charles Todd, the mother and son writing team who publish under the name Charles Todd, are experts at showing how The Great War affected people and how the problems of other generations reverberate through the years ... Todd again delivers a sensitive look at how people survive war.
PositiveThe Associated Press... a deliciously creepy setting ... echoes the atrocities of H.H. Holmes during the 1893 Exposition as chronicled in The Devil in the White City, and several characters reference those murders. While Curious Toys doesn\'t quite measure up to Erik Larson\'s award-winning nonfiction, Hand\'s gripping plot mines the era\'s vagaries with aplomb.
PositiveThe Associated Press...[a] whip-smart thriller ... Hart creates a world that seems as normal and plausible as your own neighborhood but, at the same time, is frightening and devoid of freedoms ... Hart has been making a name for himself with his critically acclaimed Ash McKenna series and as one of James Patterson’s co-authors. The Warehouse should be his breakout novel.
RaveThe Associated Press... tightly plotted ... The strong tension that launches Never Look Back only intensifies with each surprising twist ... The solid plot of Never Look Back also works well as a character study as Gaylin intelligently delves into each person’s psyche ... Quentin is clinically depressed, obsessive and possibly violent, but Gaylin’s realistic shaping makes the reader also feel for him ... Never Look Back is another superior outing from Gaylin[.]
RaveThe Associated Press... highly entertaining ... Candlish forcefully builds the tension in Those People until it reaches a crescendo that is as frightening as it is believable. It’s understandable that these people might crack under the strain of the emotional turmoil that Darren wreaks on his new neighbors ... Those People skillfully avoids plotting cliches as Candlish’s second novel doesn’t take the easy way out. Domestic thrillers have emerged as one of the hottest trends in the mystery genre and, as she did in her debut Our House, Candlish knows how to turn everyday situations sinister.
PanThe Associated Press... this gothic-inspired thriller...languishes in over-plotting ... The flashbacks of Helen are the most gripping as it reveals why she shut the mental hospital and why she is trying to change the outdated and cruel \'lunacy laws\' that allowed her parents to put her in an asylum when she was a rebellious teenager. But neither Marianne nor Jesse are interesting enough to sustain their stories. That former hospital renamed Park Royal Manor is hardly threatening. The dense plot of Stone Mothers offers few surprises, dull-edged twists and uninspired characters.
PositiveNewsdayThe quietly unnerving Gone Too Long persuasively looks at the legacy of violence and hate, and the responsibility to stop the festering bigotry and loathing ... Roy also turns her novel into a look at the banality of evil. On the surface, scenes seem harmless, such as a breakfast of homemade biscuits and gravy for neighbors and a woman measuring the distance between a man\'s eyes. But everyday situations like this are quietly chilling ... a formidable history of hate.
PositiveThe Associated Press... gripping and quite plausible ... Alternating the viewpoints of Lana, Tyler and Katya allows readers to understand each character and the motives that propel them ... Petrova delves deeper in her plot with intriguing twists making even the most benign action and supposed coincidences seem sinister and foreboding.
RaveThe Associated Press... deliciously frightening ... Tension accelerates with each day’s stay as Riley Sager keeps the suspense grounded in reality in his third novel. The appealing Jules has an inner strength but also an acute vulnerability that stems from being alone in the world since her sister disappeared four years before ... builds to a devastating finale that is more chilling_and believable_than Rosemary giving birth to the son of Satan. Sager uses the darkening atmosphere and the tiniest thing that goes bump in the night, for the utmost terror.
PositiveThe Daily HeraldBrian Panowich makes a triumphant return to Bull Mountain, Georgia, in his second novel, Like Lions, as he continues to mix crime fiction with a violent family drama, perfectly melding characters with a sense of place ... Clayton\'s complicated persona forms the heart of this enthralling story. Violence erupts frequently, yet Panowich never uses it gratuitously ... Like Lions\" moves at a brisk clip, leading to a stunning, yet believable, finale.
RaveThe Associated PressKoryta again shows his affinity for smoothly melding sophisticated action with solid character development — even when one of the individuals is in a coma ... not only works well as a quintessential thriller but also as a tale about rebuilding one\'s life and not giving up on one\'s self amid insurmountable odds ... Koryta is such a polished writer that his plots zip by as he delves into the amorality of Dax and the humanity of Abby and Tara, whose personality emerges, despite being paralyzed. Believable twists propel the tense If She Wakes as it moves to a surprising finale.
PositiveAssociated PressOutstanding ... illustrates an increased skill at storytelling that Schaffhausen showed in her excellent 2017 debut, The Vanishing Season.
PositiveThe Associated PressIn The Lonely Witness, Boyle skillfully shows how crime fiction has the ability to explore what motivates people to choose their path in life ... The Lonely Witness offers an excellent sequel [to Gravesend] with a superb plot, matched by its realistically shaped characters.
PositiveThe Associated Press\"... intriguing ... Beautifully plotted and filled with believable characters, The Widows explores an era and an area struggling to be a part of the modern 20th century, yet constantly pulled backward to its unsettled past ... Jess Montgomery... draws on actual historical incidents that richly explore the people behind events in the launch of this series that shows much potential ... Montgomery skillfully explores the residents ... Montgomery\'s storytelling skills and historical research in The Widows make this new series one to look forward to.\
PositivePhiladelphia Inquirer\"The platonic relationship between Rebus and Clarke has long provided a solid foundation for this series ... Rankin’s decision to make Rebus accept mandatory retirement ended the character’s police career but has provided new avenues of rich storytelling.\
PositiveAssociated Press\"Sugar Run gains its strength from Maren\'s uncompromising storytelling and her insistence on showing even the most painful realities ... Maren seamlessly moves Sugar Run from 1988 as she describes the deteriorating romance between Jodi and Paula and the present as the newly released Jodi, who always considered herself a victim and is now desperately trying to make better choices with her life and her heart.\
RaveThe Associated Press\"... expertly plotted ... McDermid’s affinity for multilayered plots and complex characters continues to excel in Broken Ground, her 32nd novel ... Police politics and crime investigations soar in Broken Ground, but McDermid’s look at the Highlands during World War II gives a new insight into Scotland’s role during the war.\
PositiveAssociated PressNovember Road avoids being another novel about that fateful day in Dallas. Instead, this superior novel from Edgar winner Lou Berney melds crime fiction with a tale about people reinventing themselves ... Berney keeps the tension high ... But the strength — and pleasure — of November Road is how Charlotte and Frank begin to change, finding new focus and resolve in themselves ... November Road not only showcases his considerable talents but also gives an insightful look at our past.
RaveThe Washington PostThe excellent Leave No Trace works well as a look at mental health recovery, surviving in the wild and navigating a media frenzy. The maturation of Maya and Lucas enhances the story as Mejia delves into their backgrounds and provides an intense look at Josiah’s motives for disappearing ... A strong sense of place infuses Leave No Trace, especially the expansive Boundary Waters.
RaveThe Washington Post...[an] inventive fourth novel ... The darkness that permeates the park’s environs also works as an imaginative metaphor for murky emotions and concealing secrets, even from those to whom one is closest. A shrewd plot and realistic characters also soar in Under a Dark Sky ... Rader-Day expertly plots an ingenious mystery in Under a Dark Sky.
RaveThe Concord MonitorAtkins constructs his series to be equally a look at the criminal invasion in Quinn’s part of Mississippi and a story about families – a technique that provides balance to The Sinners ... Atkins maintains the sense of community that flows through [Tibbehah County]. The Sinners showcases the beauty of Mississippi, from its fields to the winding Natchez Trace ... Atkins, who also is continuing the late Robert B. Parker’s Spenser novels, delivers a solid thriller with The Sinners, while leaving plenty of story threads for the ninth installment in this series.
PositiveSioux City JournalCanadian author Sheena Kamal continues to show how cultural touchstones reverberate into adulthood in her intriguing look at Vancouver research assistant Nora Watts, whose major investigations are uncovering her past. Nora technically isn\'t a detective, though she\'s worked for one, and her skills at finding people are unmatched. But Kamal\'s second novel delves deeper into Nora\'s prickly personality, shaped by her biracial background and the series of foster homes in which she was raised ... Kamal\'s affinity for the unusual, character-driven mystery excels in It All Falls Down. While Kamal supplies plenty of action and close calls, she concentrates on the characters\' motivations. Nora\'s background has given her a mistrust of people and made her wary of emotions. Jon, who also was her AA sponsor, has never been able to break through her wall. Her closest relationship is with Whisper ... A sense of sadness permeates the novel, from Kamal\'s gritty look at Detroit and unflinching look at Vancouver\'s neighborhoods to the flawed characters. Yet Kamal also injects a sense of hope and closure for Nora, and Whisper, and makes readers root for their future.
PositiveMinneapolis Star Tribune\"In Give Me Your Hand, author Megan Abbott turns to the dark side of friendship and ambition with an intriguing story about two women scientists vying to conduct groundbreaking work in a pressure cooker of a research lab. Abbott infuses just enough science to boost her novel without overwhelming it ... In Give Me Your Hand, Abbott again shows why she\'s one of our best story tellers.\
PositiveThe Washington TimesCampbell keeps the tension high as she exposes her very flawed characters, each of whom is realistically explored.
RaveThe Florida Sun-SentinelThe Brutal Telling, the fifth novel in the series, is laden with dry wit, an involving plot and detailed perspectives about the human condition. Penny knows that mysteries set in quaint little villages run the risk of succumbing to Christie's St. Mary Mead syndrome – an unrealistic amount of crime for such a small place. But Penny uses the limited surroundings – in this case the Quebec village of Three Pines – to her advantage while poking fun at this genre tenet … The Brutal Telling has frequent laugh-out-loud passages, but Penny avoids overloading Three Pines with eccentrics. Even when a few characters are over the top, the author supplies a veneer of believability.
RaveThe Associated Press...[an] enthralling look at people mired in a nomadic existence, anonymous to most and longing for a connection with another ... Not every character is sympathetic, but the increasingly heightened drama that surrounds each character’s life never falters ... Pochoda deftly moves each of these characters together, making their connection realistic while pulling Wonder Valley from the past to the present to illustrate what led each to this particular moment ... Pochoda delivers a compassionate look at the displaced that treats each with respect and humanity in Wonder Valley.
RaveThe Associated PressAs good as IQ was — and it was terrific — Righteous takes a deeper look at Isaiah, delving into what has shaped this young African-American man and allowing the character to mature ... Ide keeps Righteous on a righteous path of compelling storytelling, allowing his characters to flourish while exploring the worst of human nature. Never once does Righteous go over the top as Ide keeps each plot point chillingly realistic ... Ide’s debut IQ showed what a skillful writer he is. Righteous elevates the author — and his characters — to a new level.
PositiveThe Washington TimesAuthor Joe Ide incorporates those attributes into an original story and character. IQ delivers a moving, yet action-packed plot that never disappoints as it looks at rap music, a community and a young man trying to find his place in the world ... 'IQ' is Isaiah Quintabe, who earned the nickname that he hates because of his intellect and observation powers ... He takes on cases the police could not or would not get involved in, and his latest assignment could pay a lot more than what he usually gets ... The brisk plot of IQ is balanced by the intriguing character of Isaiah, inexperienced in the ways of the world but with intelligence that makes him anything but naive. Forever searching for the driver who killed his brother, Isaiah needs redemption ... Ide’s storytelling skills don’t waver as IQ delivers realistic twists and a solid finale.
RaveThe Washington TimesSlaughter guides Pretty Girls into an in-depth look at a family forever defined by its tragedy. Each time a young woman is reported missing, Julia’s survivors feel as if their own emotional wounds have been reopened. As Claire delves into Paul’s background, she begins to realize how little she knew him … Slaughter keeps the tension high as Pretty Girls alternatively follows Lydia and Claire and the letters their father wrote to Julia, documenting his endless search for his missing child and pinpointing when savagery entered their lives. Slaughter’s unflinching descriptions of violence are never gratuitous but are not for the faint of heart.