<i>The Wages of Sin</i>: New Excerpt The Wages of Sin: New Excerpt Kaite Welsh A page-turning debut of murder, subversion, and vice. Review: <i>Baker Street Irregulars</i> Review: Baker Street Irregulars Amber Keller Read Amber Keller's review! <i>The Lost Order</i>: New Excerpt The Lost Order: New Excerpt Steve Berry The 12th book in the Cotton Malone series. Review: <i>The New York Times Book of Crime</i>, Edited by Kevin Flynn Review: The New York Times Book of Crime, Edited by Kevin Flynn Jenny Maloney Read Jenny Maloney's review!
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March 23, 2017
Review: Personal Shopper (2017)
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Research Ride-Along
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Q&A with Lyndsay Faye, Author of The Whole Art of Detection
Lyndsay Faye and Ardi Alspach
Showing posts by: Dirk Robertson click to see Dirk Robertson's profile
Mar 10 2017 4:00pm

Review: The Wages of Sin by Kaite Welsh

The Wages of Sin by Kaite Welsh is a page-turning tale of murder, subversion, and vice in which a female medical student in Victorian Edinburgh is drawn into a murder investigation when she recognizes one of the corpses in her anatomy lecture.

A prostitute is murdered in late-nineteenth-century Edinburgh, and no one cares. The early demise of a woman of ill repute is of no concern to the Scottish capital’s society, high or low. No one, that is, apart from Miss Sarah Gilchrist, who is studying at the University of Edinburgh’s medical school. 

The year is 1882, and it’s the first time women have been allowed admission to the school. Sarah is studying to be a doctor despite stern opposition from her family, the establishment, and society in general. This is a time when women are deemed inferior to men, and the behavior of men—in public and private—reflects this in many different ways. Brothels, where fallen women ply their trade, are sneered at and whispered about, yet the veil of double standards—which knows no bounds—is thrown over these establishments so members of the higher echelons of society can avail themselves of the wares, safe from people they consider nosy liberals or those with prying eyes. 

[Read Dirk Robertson's review of The Wages of Sin...]

Feb 21 2017 2:00pm

Review: I See You by Clare Mackintosh

I See You by Clare Mackintosh is a dark and claustrophobic thriller in which a normal, everyday woman becomes trapped in the confines of her normal, everyday world.

If you happen upon the personal ads while reading the newspaper, there are plenty of things you might expect to see—a photo of yourself is probably not one of them. Zoe Walker is confronted with a photograph of herself in the classified ads under FindTheOne.com. She calls the number listed to see if she can shed some light on the matter, but it’s dead. She just wants to know how her photo got there, and—more importantly—why. Like all of us, Zoe wants some answers.

However, seeking them takes her on a very dangerous journey, as other women with photographs on the site are becoming victims of violent crimes. A new woman and a new victim each day.

[Read Dirk Robertson's review of I See You...]

Feb 9 2017 5:30pm

Review: Long Time Lost by Chris Ewan

Long Time Lost by Chris EwanChris Ewan's Long Time Lost is a fast-paced, standalone thriller.

Long Time Lost is a very sharp, finely-crafted thriller from page one. To kick off the story, Chris Ewan takes us to the Isle of Man where Nick Miller provides an unusual product to his customers. He and his colleagues specialize in relocating at-risk individuals, providing new identities and new lives for those who want to disappear and start over. 

The tension and rhythm of this thriller start from the very beginning and don’t let up. Nick is exceptionally good at what he does—and for good reason. He himself has been in hiding, living under an assumed name for years. Nothing like personal experience to make you a top-class provider who knows what the customer desires in order to satisfy the contract. 

[Read Dirk Robertson's review of Long Time Lost...]

Feb 8 2017 2:00pm

Review: Under the Knife by Kelly Parsons

Under the Knife by Kelly ParsonsUnder the Knife by Kelly Parsons is a heart-pounding medical thriller that will have readers on the edge of their seats up to the very last page.

Morgan Finney has made a lot of money from biotechnology. However, the brilliance he exhibits in his business is not reflected in his personal life. Inherent shyness and a debilitating inability to connect with people could have condemned him to a life of luxury bereft of human contact. But he managed to find a wife, Jenny, through whom he manages some sort of semblance of normalcy with his fellow human beings. She really is his everything.

But financial resources mean nothing when it comes to the cruel hand of fate, dealing death and misery without prejudice. Nothing Finney can do can stop the death of his beloved wife under the surgeon’s knife. The medical team does their best, but fate steps in and plucks Jenny away from the loving arms of the loner who relied on her completely for any sense of direction and connection to the human life.

[Read Dirk Robertson's review of Under the Knife...]

Jan 27 2017 2:00pm

Review: Thankless in Death by J.D. Robb

To celebrate the upcoming release of J.D. Robb's 44th Eve Dallas mystery, Echoes in Death, we're taking a look back at every single book in the In Death series. Today, Dirk Robertson reviews #37, Thankless in Death.

Eve Dallas is back in the 37th In Death novel, Thankless in Death. J.D. Robb has created a most-believable heroine with this series of books, and despite its longevity, each book feels essentially individual. Robb achieves this by working in layers when it comes to Eve Dallas. The past she has endured and the life she has led because of it all come together to make her the person she is. And with each book, Robb peels the layers off, one by one, to take the reader on a journey that ends in the Lieutenant we love. The result is books that are immensely readable and extremely enjoyable, which portray a character that you can root for all the way—so long as she is not coming after you. 

Thankfully, this time Eve’s coming after Jerry Reinhold. Jerry has given his parents a proper evening’s attention, the likes of which only a proper psychopath can aspire to: a knife for his loving Mum, who has put up with so much from the ungrateful sponger, and a baseball bat for his poor old Dad. Jerry is the kind of character you develop a soft spot for straight away—a slurry pit just off the New Jersey turnpike. He really is a foul specimen. 

[Read Dirk Robertson's review of Thankless in Death...]

Jan 23 2017 5:30pm

Review: Clownfish Blues by Tim Dorsey

In Clownfish Blues by Tim Dorsey, A (Serge A.) Storm is brewing for a cabal of bad guys gaming the Florida state lottery in this insanely funny novel from the maestro of mayhem (available January 24, 2017).

The Florida State Lottery—like all lotteries—is a game of chance. Anyone can win; all you have to do is buy a ticket. But actually winning is an entirely different thing. Most people buy a ticket and hope for the best, keeping their fingers crossed and willing their numbers to appear. Others know the chances of winning are less than finding yourself handcuffed to a ghost or guessing a complete stranger’s phone number, yet they play nonetheless. However, for gangsters, robbers, cheats, and fly-by-nights, a more successful—if illegal—method might be employed.

In Clownfish Blues, a group of thieves arrange a system of tilting the odds using a huge wad of cash, and I mean huge. Main characters Storms and Coleman catch wind of the plan and take more than a passing interest—they want in on the action, too. Big time.

[Read Dirk Robertson's review of Clownfish Blues...]

Jan 17 2017 2:00pm

Review: Kindred in Death by J.D. Robb

To celebrate the upcoming release of J.D. Robb's 44th Eve Dallas mystery, Echoes in Death, we're taking a look back at every single book in the In Death series. Today, Dirk Robertson reviews #29, Kindred in Death.

Eve and Roarke have just made love and are having a bit of breakfast in bed when they’re joined by the cat, who waited a respectful length of time before joining them. What is there not like about that? Peaceful, relaxed, and fulfilled—gentle things going on as they think about getting ready for a quick jaunt to the Cayman Islands to check out the possible purchase of a villa. 

But reality has another agenda as a communicator summons her to pick up and read the display. It’s from Whitney. Now she is no longer Roarke’s lover, pet afficiando, and person who was about to jet off to the Caymans—she is Lieutenant Eve Dallas, and it is time for another case. 

Instead of boarding a plane for the sun, she has to go to 541 Central Park South. A victim awaits her: Deena Macmasters, sixteen, found dead by her parents when they came back from a weekend trip. It doesn’t get any worse. Parents should never have to bury their children under any circumstances. 

[Read Dirk Robertson's review of Kindred in Death...]

Jan 16 2017 5:30pm

Review: A Puzzle to Be Named Later by Parnell Hall

A Puzzle to Be Named Later by Parnell HallA Puzzle to Be Named Later by Parnell Hall is the 18th book in the Puzzle Lady Mystery series (available January 17, 2017).

Cora Felton—the self-ascribed “Puzzle Lady”—anonymously writes a column on puzzles for a member of her family and makes a habit of solving mysteries using crossword puzzles to throw up crime clues that help her along the way. If crosswords are your thing, then there is plenty in this mystery to keep you occupied and keenly interested in the clues as they unfold. If Sudoku is your puzzle of choice, then you will not be disappointed as this logic-based number puzzle is cleverly worked into the plot and development of events as one murder follows another. 

The first murder follows the arrival of a pitching marvel—currently in the distinguished employ of the New York Yankees—in Bakerhaven, Cora’s hometown. The victim meets their demise in the sauna at the end of a rock. Sharp, to the point, and messy.

[Read Dirk Robertson's review of A Puzzle to Be Named Later...]

Jan 9 2017 6:00pm

Review: Dead Gone by Luca Veste

Dead Gone by Luca Veste is a terrifying trip into the darkest corners of psychology, where Detectives Murphy and Rossi rush to catch a serial killer who is stalking a university in Liverpool, ingeniously murdering his victims in a series of deadly experiments (available January 10, 2017).

The debut novel from Luca Veste is a screamer—and not the kind of scream that is instantly audible, but one that starts very quietly and builds to a crescendo that eventually takes over every fiber of your being. Dead Gone grabs you from page one and compels you to stay until the very end, and it is that element of not being able to get away that draws you in and makes you at one with the victims—and there are many of them—in this very dark and skillful thriller.

David Murphy and Laura Rossi are two detectives who set out to find the killer, or killers, of a student who is enrolled at the City of Liverpool University. A letter outlining a notorious experiment from the past is pinned to her body. The experiment has been repeated on the young woman, her death being the inevitable outcome of the grisly attentions of what rapidly appears to be a case of serial killing.

[Read Dirk Robertson's review of Dead Gone...]

Dec 26 2016 2:00pm

Review: Seduction in Death by J.D. Robb

To celebrate the upcoming release of J.D. Robb's 44th Eve Dallas mystery, Echoes in Death, we're taking a look back at every single book in the In Death series. Today, Dirk Robertson reviews #13, Seduction in Death.

There are certain firsts in life that you never forget: your first kiss, your first love, your first cream bun. For me, you can also add your first J.D. Robb book to that list. 

Seduction in Death moves along at a smooth and slick pace, as though it were gliding on a magnetic propulsion system, set as it is in a near future that still awaits us all. This is a fine offering in the In Death sagas, and it sees Detective Eve Dallas up against a particularly nasty killer or set of killers who target their vulnerable and lonely victims and murder them in what appears to be a kind of sport or competition. A sick crime, whether set in the future, present, or murky past. 

Eve Dallas has a dark past—one that never seems far behind her, like a hellhound on her trail. Abuse and a dark family history that even Dickens would have been hard-pressed to create combine to form a character who takes no nonsense. We are all products of our childhood, and Detective Dallas is no different. She has a nose for the truly awful.

[Read Dirk Robertson's review of Seduction in Death...]

Dec 23 2016 5:30pm

Review: The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by David Rosenfelt

The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by David RosenfeltThe Twelve Dogs of Christmas by David Rosenfelt is the 15th book in the Andy Carpenter series.

With a title like The Twelve Dogs of Christmas, it would seem David Rosenfelt has written a fuzzy, warm Christmas cozy, perfect for curling up next to a fire and losing a few hours with. Wrong. Not only are twelve puppies are in danger of losing their shelter—which some hard-hearted people want closed for a variety of reasons—but a murder has occurred. 

Enter Martha Boyer, the “Puppy Lady.” Puppies—particularly newborns—are notoriously difficult to look after in a shelter. So Martha (whose nickname is “Pups”) takes them in and looks after them until they are ready to be adopted, which can often take a long time. This doesn’t bother her; it just means she ends up with a house packed full of adorable little dogs. Plus, Martha has a huge pile of money, which means feeding and providing for the little cuties is hardly an issue. What’s there not to like?

Apparently a lot if puppies aren’t your thing and you’re a neighbor who feels she shouldn’t keep dogs because she doesn’t have the necessary permits. But if you decide to complain, you don’t expect to end up dead—that seems especially extreme by an animal lover’s code of conduct. But that’s what happens. 

[Read Dirk Robertson's review of The Twelve Dogs of Christmas...]

Dec 19 2016 4:00pm

Review: The Cat Sitter and the Canary by Blaize & John Clement

The Cat Sitter and the Canary: A Dixie Hemingway Mystery by John Clement, Blaize ClementThe Cat Sitter and the Canary is the 11th book in the Dixie Hemingway series (Available December 20, 2016).

Depending on the number of feline clients you can accrue, being a cat sitter can be a lucrative activity. It’s a worthwhile and harmless profession, but you will inevitably need an actual human being to invoice—cats are notoriously unreliable when it comes to paying the bills. It would appear, however, that some cat sitters—like Dixie Hemingway—are nearer to harm’s way than one would presume.

Dixie lives and plies her trade on Siesta Key—an island off the west coast of Florida, near the shore of Sarasota. She used to be a deputy with the Sarasota Sheriff’s Department until she hung up her badge and entered the world of cat sitting.

[Read Dirk Robertson's review of The Cat Sitter and the Canary...]

Dec 15 2016 5:30pm

Review: Not Just Evil by David Wilson

Not Just Evil: Murder, Hollywood, and California's First Insanity Plea by David WilsonFor readers of true crime sagas like Tinseltown and Little Demon in the City of Light comes a chilling account of a murder that captivated the United States in the 1920s.

The subtitle for David Wilson’s true crime novel Not Just Evil is Murder, Hollywood, and California’s First Insanity Plea—a fitting title, and I’m sure it wasn’t the last. David Wilson has delivered a skin-crawler of a book. The subject matter is revolting, but the narrative Mr. Wilson succeeds in crafting is a cause for celebration.

Many true crime books travel into the minds and actions of horrible human beings, causing you to pause a moment as you cannot believe the depths to which people can sink. Often, the stories themselves are bad enough, but then the whole thing is made worse by clumsy writing and overly detailed gore with weak attempts at pseudo-intellectualizing that come across as contrived.

There’s nothing fictional about this fascinating book; I just wish there was. The start, middle, and end are all disgusting. You’ll want to wait to have your dinner before reading this … if you want to hang on to it. This is simply not an easy read. But if true crime is your thing, it’s an extremely captivating story.

[Read Dirk Robertson's review of Not Just Evil...]

Dec 1 2016 5:30pm

Review: Don’t Turn Out the Lights by Bernard Minier

Don't Turn Out the Lights by Bernard Minier is the 3rd Commandant Martin Servaz novel (Available December 6, 2016).

Great writing is like great baking. The ingredients have to be spot on, properly prepared, and well thought out. They have to be mixed together just right so that the interplay between them becomes a perfect juxtaposition rather than a jumbled mess. When done well, the final product is a heavenly treat that leaves you craving more—and Bernard Minier pens an excellent recipe for a terrific thriller in Don’t Turn Out the Lights.

This book is seriously good. I’ve never been much of a fan of dream sequences in books or surreal layers overlapping the narrative, but this has changed my mind. Big time. Like a cake that’s to die for, Don’t Turn Out The Lights is a delight of many layers, each with its own distinct flavor. The dream sequences keep you guessing about what is real and what is not in the most delicious fashion, and the violence is served up just as it should be—sparse, cold, and dry, leaving a nasty taste in your mouth.

[Read Dirk Robertson's review of Don't Turn Out the Lights...]

Nov 4 2016 2:00pm

Review: The Hanging Club by Tony Parsons

Hanging Club by Tony ParsonsThe Hanging Club by Tony Parsons is the 3rd book in the Max Wolfe series, where Wolfe must track down a vigilante group responsible for the retributive killings of freed criminals.

I am staggered by the amount of top-class thrillers I am reading at the moment, and The Hanging Club by Tony Parsons is no exception. Finely tuned, impeccable writing and very powerful characters took me to the edge of my seat and kept me there, until the ending dumped me on the floor unceremoniously, in a hot, sweaty mess. 

Detective Constable Wolfe is in a dilemma. Men are being murdered—hanged by the neck until dead—and it’s being filmed and put up on the internet for all to see. These men all have one thing in common, other than the nature of their deaths: they had been found guilty of sickening crimes but with a sentence deemed inappropriate by the self-appointed purveyors of justice, who then handed out their form of retribution and broadcast it online. 

[Read Dirk Robertson's review of The Hanging Club...]

Oct 27 2016 3:30pm

Review: Ash Island by Barry Maitland

Ash Island by Barry Maitland is the 2nd book in the Belltree Trilogy (Available November 1, 2016).

Harry Belltree is having a torrid time of it all. He used to be a homicide detective in Sydney, but has now been transferred to Newcastle. Things have gotten too hot in Sydney, and his bosses would rather see the back of him—that or early retirement. Harry is not ready to hang up his police badge just yet. Too many things to be done, too many secrets to be uncovered, and too many wrongs to be righted. He feels his work has only just begun.

His troubles began with a series of events in Sydney that presented more questions than answers. Answers that Harry is not going to get by sticking to the rule book. An unwillingness to stick to the letter of the law is what got him into trouble in Sydney in the first place, but he knows that he is not going to get the answers he needs by being the police officer his badge and profession truly demands.

[Read Dirk Robertson's review of Ash Island...]

Oct 3 2016 3:00pm

Review: The Devil’s Trail by Robert J. Conley

The Devil's Trail by Robert J. Conley is the 3rd Texas Outlaws novel, continuing the tall tale of little Kid Parmlee, a young man without a home, without fear, and with just enough sense to become a true legend of the frontier.

Horses, guns, money, posses, and whiskey—this book has it all. Authenticity is the key to this type of story, and Robert J. Conley serves it up by the bucketful in The Devil’s Trail.

Outlaws have robbed a bank and a bounty has been posted. This offers an opportunity for Kid Parmlee and other local bandits to go after them, retrieve the cash, right the wrong, and serve up justice Western style—whatever that may entail. The Kid is your typical Western gunslinger: he gets the job done with hot lead, simple philosophies covered in trail dust, and women who most definitely are not there to work on the ranch or milk the cows. The action moves along nicely, taking in all the obligatory settings—Main Street, the saloon, the house of ill repute. And, of course, there’s the man in black, without which no story of this style would be complete.

[Read Dirk Robertson's review of The Devil's Trail...]

Sep 26 2016 4:30pm

Review: Combustion by Martin J. Smith

Combustion by Martin J. Smith is a page-turning thriller with a sh0cking twist (Available September 27, 2016).

Detective Ron Starke is having a torrid time of it all. A body shows up at the bottom of the local pond—a midnight swim gone wrong, possibly. It’s true that alcohol mixed with unexpected cold temperatures can have a shocking effect on a person in the water, particularly if it is in a place they are not used to swimming. However, the heavy piece of computer machinery with a steel cable looped through the handle, around the victim’s neck, then back through the handle again and secured with a combination lock suggests an accident this, most certainly, is not. 

The victim is a man who has done very well for himself: a big house, a big wife with big hair and a big history, a big bank account, and—due to his abrasive and unforgiving personality—a big long list of people who may have provided the anchor to take him down his one way journey to the bottom of a cold, dark, slimy pond. 

[Read Dirk Robertson's review of Combustion...]

Sep 22 2016 2:00pm

Review: Reckless Creed by Alex Kava

Reckless Creed by Alex Kava Reckless Creed by Alex Kava is the 3rd book in the Ryder Creed series (Available September 27, 2016).

Dogs have a nose for just about everything. If it is there, they will sniff it out. Their sense of smell is forty times more powerful than ours and, for me, what’s even more impressive is the fact that they can wiggle their nostrils independently. So it’s no surprise to find that Ryder Creed uses dogs for search and rescue in Reckless Creed.

In this finely crafted tale by Alex Kava, Ryder employs the skills of just one of his dogs, Grace, who, like Creed’s other dogs, is an animal Creed actually rescued himself. One dog is enough; anymore and they compete for scents, which can lead to confusion in the search. Creed’s decision pays off, as Grace finds the body of a young woman who has met a strange and untimely end thanks to a pocket full of rocks in a river in Southern Alabama. Turns out she's not the only one—a young man in Chicago has exited his hotel room via the 19th floor window.

[Read Dirk Robertson's review of Reckless Creed...]

Sep 19 2016 3:30pm

Review: Daisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton

Daisy in Chains by Sharon BoltonDaisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton features a convicted serial killer that insists he's innocent and a notorious defense attorney that eventually takes the case (Available September 20, 2016).

Daisy in Chains is as sharp, tight, and uncompromising a read as you will find anywhere. With this thriller, Sharon Bolton has demonstrated that she is well on her way to the very top of the crime writing genre. The plot, characters, twists, and turns are of premier quality—every section of the book is like a master class in gripping story-telling.

Maggie Rose is a top-class defense attorney and writer. She is well-known for getting convictions overturned. Tough, thoughtful, and highly intelligent, she sees things other people miss or pass off as trivial.

Hamish Wolfe is very good looking, fit, and smart. However, he is also as endearing as that dirty ring of scum you find inside your bath when the water leaves. A convicted serial killer, Wolfe is languishing in a maximum-security prison when he reaches out to Maggie to visit, support his case, and write his story.

[Read Dirk Robertson's review of Daisy in Chains...]