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Holy ghost
2018
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  New York Times Review

AS FAR AS I'm concerned, Joe Ide can't write them fast enough. His unorthodox hero, Isaiah (IQ) Quintabe, happily met again in WRECKED (Mulholland, $27), is a brainy private eye from Los Angeles who helps his neighbors deal with the usual neighborhood problems: "store thefts, break-ins, lost children, wife-beaters, bullies and con men." For his services, he's usually paid in casseroles, cookies and home repairs; Louella Barnes even settled her bill by knitting him a reindeer sweater. But that sort of trade-off looks to change when a painter named Grace Monarova walks into his life, along with the prospect of bona fide, negotiable cash in order to find her mother. But the money seems less important than what else might be on offer: the sort of serious love interest that was missing from his first two cases. Unfortunately, like IQ's deadbeat clients, Grace tries to barter, paying him with his choice of a painting - although the poor guy is so smitten, he might have settled for a peanut butter sandwich. Despite being lovestruck, IQ is professional enough to realize that Grace isn't telling him everything, which makes the investigation a lot harder than it needs to be. Just the same, he's floored when a simple missing persons case leads to a vengeance drama involving an electric cattle prod with enough volts "to knock a steer sideways" and a savage beating that has him hanging tough but eventually screaming for mercy. "The only thing holding him together was the thought of the crew working on Grace. Beating her, assaulting her, breaking her fingers, breaking her art." A prologue featuring a group of former guards from the American military prison at Abu Ghraib (where they received "no instructions, regulations, limits, guidelines or supervision") provides a harrowing back story that explains why IQ is so hard-boiled. His innate sweetness in the face of such mad-dog cruelty is more of a mystery, one we'll look forward to puzzling out in his next adventure. John sandford's madly entertaining Virgil Flowers mysteries are more fun than a greased-pigwrestling contest. The plots are outlandish; the characters peculiar; and the best bits of dialogue are largely unprintable. So it is with HOLY GHOST (Putnam, $29), which is set in Wheatfield, Minn., a worn-out town of 650 weary souls who elected Wardell Holland mayor on the basis of his pitifully honest campaign slogan: "I'll Do What I Can." But nothing less than a miracle could put this hamlet back on its feet. Happily, a miracle is exactly what it gets when apparitions of the Blessed Virgin at St. Mary's Catholic Church bring in hordes of coinjingling believers to patronize the local stores, including the mayor's own establishment, "Skinner & Holland, Eats & Souvenirs." But just when commerce begins to perk up, a sniper starts taking random potshots at visitors and residents alike. This is a situation that calls for Virgil Flowers, an agent with the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, who brings a fresh eye and a keen sense of humor to the case. Although his formal investigation largely has to do with tracing ballistics, Virgil makes time to take in the sights, teach a lesson to a vicious bully and sample the terrible cooking at Mom's Café. IT'S always cold, damp and foggy in Anne Perry's Victorian mysteries featuring William Monk, commander of the Thames River Police. The atmosphere is exceptionally murky in DARK TIDE RISING (Baliantine, $28), which opens with a kidnapping that leads to a savage murder on Jacob's Island. "This place is like death," observes a visitor to this floating charnel house, where rotting houses are slowly sinking into a "thick, viscous mud that sucked anything of weight into itself, like quicksand." Perry makes cunning work of the plot, which raises issues of trust and loyalty while driving home a grim message about the vulnerability of women who entrust their fortunes to unscrupulous men. But it's the river that dominates the book, a mysterious presence "full of powerful currents, bending back on each other as they found obstacles, filthy, strongly tidal and ... cold enough to rob you of breath." after 240 days without rain and crops devastated by "grasshoppers as big as prairie dogs," the farming community of Jackson, Okla., is ready to pin its hopes on a rainmaker. But in Laurie Loewenstein's Depression-era mystery, DEATH OF A RAINMAKER (Kaylie Jones/Akashic, paper, $16.95), that effort ends when the man is murdered. Sheriff Temple Jennings would rather look into this crime than perform his more onerous duties, like foreclosing on Jess and Hazel Fuller's farm. The murder investigation allows Loewenstein to probe into the lives of proud people who would never expose their troubles to strangers. People like John Hodge, the town's most respected lawyer, who knocks his wife around, and kindhearted Etha Jennings, who surreptitiously delivers home-cooked meals to the hobo camp outside town because one of the young Civilian Conservation Corps workers reminds her of her dead son. Loewenstein's sensitive treatment of these dark days in the Dust Bowl era offers little humor but a whole lot of compassion. Marilyn STASIO has covered crime fiction for the Book Review since 1988. Her column appears twice a month.

  Publishers Weekly Review

In bestseller Sandford's wickedly enjoyable 11th outing for Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agent Virgil Flowers (after 2017's Deep Freeze), Wardell Holland, the maverick mayor of Wheatfield (pop. 650), and his 17-year-old sidekick, John Jacob Skinner, decide the town needs an economic boost, so they contrive for the Virgin Mary to appear at St. Mary's Catholic Church, with one of Skinner's many sexual conquests, Jennie Fischer, in the Mary role. The Marian Apparition succeeds in bringing flocks of tourists to Wheatfield. Then sniper-like shootings that wound two citizens threaten the bonanza. Flowers's subsequent investigation turns up suspects ranging from a few would-be Nazis to a farmer/gun range owner and Jennie's porn-loving boyfriend. When the shootings turn deadly, Flowers gets help, which he badly needs as he comes to realize that he must outwit a clever killer who proves one of his maxims: "If it's criminal, it's either stupid or crazy." Sandford's trademark sly humor shines throughout. Agent: Esther Newberg, ICM. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Summary
Virgil Flowers investigates a miracle--and a murder--in the wickedly entertaining new thriller from the master of "pure reading pleasure" ( Booklist ) <br> <br> Pinion, Minnesota: a metropolis of all of seven hundred souls, for which the word "moribund" might have been invented. Nothing ever happened there and nothing ever would--until the mayor of sorts (campaign slogan: "I'll Do What I Can") and a buddy come up with a scheme to put Pinion on the map. They'd heard of a place where a floating image of the Virgin Mary had turned the whole town into a shrine, attracting thousands of pilgrims. And all those pilgrims needed food, shelter, all kinds of crazy things, right? They'd all get rich! What could go wrong?<br> <br> When the dead body shows up, they find out, and that's only the beginning of their troubles--and Virgil Flowers'--as they are all about to discover all too soon.
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