The year is 1958. O'Connor, a young reporter with the Las Piernas News Express, is desperate to discover who has perpetrated a savage attack on his mentor, Jack Corrigan. In and out of consciousness, Corrigan claims to have witnessed the burial of a bloodstained car on a farm, but his reputation as a heavy drinker calls his strange story into question. In a seemingly unrelated mystery, a yacht bearing four members of the wealthy Ducane family disappears during a storm off the coast. An investigation finds that the Ducane home has been broken into; a nursemaid has been killed; and Max, the infant heir, has gone missing. Corrigan recovers his health, but despite a police investigation and his own tireless inquiries, the mysteries of the buried car and the whereabouts of Maxwell Ducane haunt him until his death.
Twenty years after that fateful night, in her first days as a novice reporter working for managing editor O'Connor, Irene Kelly covers the groundbreaking ceremony for a shopping center – which unexpectedly yields the unearthing of a buried car. In the trunk are human remains. Are those of the infant heir among them? If so, who is the young man who has recently changed his name to Max Ducane? Again the trail goes maddeningly, perhaps suspiciously, cold.
Until today. Irene, now married to homicide detective Frank Harriman, is a veteran reporter facing the impending closing of the Las Piernas News Express. With circulation down and young reporters fresh out of journalism school replacing longtime staffers, Irene can't help but wish for the good old days when she worked with O'Connor. So when the baffling kidnap-burial case resurfaces, Irene's tenacious love for her mentor and journalistic integrity far outweigh any fears or trepidation. Determined to make a final splash for her beloved paper and solve the mystery that plagued O'Connor until his death, Irene pursues a story that reunites her with her past and may end her career – and her life.
Still recovering from injuries sustained in her last murder investigation, reporter Irene Kelly dutifully hobbles back to work, only to get lured into another case of murder and mayhem. On her very first day back, Irene is “welcomed” by a threatening bit of fan mail from someone who calls himself “Thanatos” – the ancient Greek name for “Death.” Though Irene shrugs it off as a prank, she soon learns to take Thanatos at his word. As Thanatos’ letters keep coming, each cleverly wrapped in mythological puzzles, the bodies mount – as does the tension in southern California ’s beach community of Las Piernas. Unwilling to be a pawn in a killer’s deadly game, Irene Kelly knows she must take action. Taunted by phone calls and deadly threats from a killer known only to her as Thanatos, Irene ignores warnings from her worried fiancé, homicide detective Frank Harriman, and embarks on her most dangerous case yet. As Irene unravels the clues to the case – each one embedded in ancient riddles and mythic puzzles – Thanatos watches her every move with a fascination that brings him too close for comfort. Yet Irene will stop at nothing to unveil the true identity of this genius of death, even if it means playing into the hands of a killer who is determined to make her part of his deadly destiny.
Irene Kelly is a reporter with a fierce integrity. Detective Frank Harriman is her lover and friend. Now they’re both about to be plunged into political hellfire when a ruthless politician rocks a race for district attorney with a stunning allegation: his opponent’s son is in the clutches of a satanic cult. The charge takes a fatal turn when a local woman is brutally murdered, and the grisly crime scene bears unholy implications. Tracking the clues takes Irene behind the closed doors of an isolated home for troubled youths, where obscuring the truth is only part of a stranger’s diabolic game. To win it, Irene will have the devil to pay.
Intrepid sleuth/reporter Irene Kelly barely has time to recover from the shock of learning that her estranged aunt has been killed before being blindsided by an even bigger surprise – she's the number one suspect! Irene searches for her aunt's son, Travis – a young man who wants nothing to do with Irene or any of the Kelly clan. The seeds of contention sown by family members no longer living are now being reaped by the next generation in ways no one would ever have expected. As deeply buried family skeletons are unearthed, the line between stalker and stalked becomes increasingly blurred, with dangerous consequences for Irene. She casts her lot with Travis, who she believes is the killer's next target, but her efforts to protect him place her squarely in harm's way. Now Irene must dodge not only the arm of the law but also the reach of a killer who appears to want to settle the score of an age-old family grudge.
From Publishers Weekly
Set in the fictional Southern California town of Las Piernas, this generally exciting debut mystery-the first of a projected series-brims with brutality, but is slowed at times by home and hospital bedside scenes. Former reporter Irene Kelly, now working in public relations, is shocked when her friend O'Connor is killed by a bomb hidden in a package. The only clue Irene can unearth is O'Connor's obsession with a long-unsolved crime involving an unidentified female body discovered in Las Piernas years before. Rehired by the Las Piernas Express, Irene teams up with ex-lover and homicide cop Frank Harriman to crack the case, but details of what O'Connor had learned about the killing are long in coming. Burke punctuates her too leisurely exposition with graphic, effective scenes of murder and attempted murder, although she depicts the menacing assassins more as machines than as human beings and provides a plausible explanation for all the violence only at her story's very end. Still, she writes with remarkable sensitivity about the physical and spiritual reactions of people terrorized by cold-blooded killers, and her gift for characterization somewhat compensates for her still-rudimentary pacing skills.
When Irene Kelly's articles profiling missing children run in the Las Piernas Express, she anticipates the renewed public interest and the deluge of phone tips and remembered clues; she even anticipates the renewed pain of the anguished parents. What she doesn't expect is that the articles will set off a murderous chain reaction – and put her life in peril.
Perhaps one of the more tragic disappearances in recent Las Piernas history was that of Jenny Fletcher, just shy of her fourth birthday. The body of Jenny's father, Richard, a graphic artist, was found bludgeoned in his studio; hours later Jenny's stepbrother Mason was apprehended with the murder weapon and bloody clothing in his car. But little Jenny was never found. As the years pass, everyone assumes Jenny is dead. Everyone except her brother Caleb, who not only believes Jenny survived but steadfastly believes in Mason's innocence.
Caleb, now a graduate student studying with forensic anthropologist Ben Sheridan, works on cases for the Las Piernas Police Department. When bones are discovered at the old Sheffield estate just days after the missing-children articles appear, Caleb finds himself drawn into a case that threatens to bring personal tragedies back to the present. He has a fierce ally in reporter Irene Kelly, who will stop at nothing to solve the mysteries of his father's murder and his sister's disappearance.
The acclaimed author of the Irene Kelly mystery series (Goodnight, Irene, etc.) and the Edgar award-winning novel Bones delivers this superb collection of short stories, hitherto available only in a limited trade edition from A.S.A.P. Publishing. These early works, which appeared in publications like Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, display an impressive range of styles, voices and settings. Burke offers ghost stories ("Ghost of a Chance"), romantic suspense ("The Muse"), a whodunit ("A Fine Set of Teeth"), a tale of revenge ("Miscalculation") and a humorous intrigue ("The Man in the Civil Suit"), and the voices she adopts are as disparate as an abused wife and an aristocratic gentleman (and, at one point, even a non-human narrator). It would be a challenge for readers to choose their favorite, as all the stories are carefully crafted gems: "Mea Culpa" follows a crippled boy as he deduces what his stepfather has in store for his mother; "Miscalculation," which is based on the wartime service of the Queen Mary ocean liner, effectively transmutes history into mystery; and "Unharmed" tells a surprising tale of domestic strife. Several of the stories won or were nominated for awards, and virtually all of them repay the reader handsomely.
Newly married Southern California newspaper reporter Irene Kelly (seen before in Dear Irene, etc.) doesn't immediately recognize the bum on the bus stop bench who says he knows her. A few weeks later, meeting with some old friends, she learns that he was Lucas Monroe, her statistics teacher in college. That same night, she drives a friend home to find the woman's wealthy husband dead from a self-inflicted gunshot. The next day, the longtime Las Piernas city manager resigns, refusing to give a reason. While tracking that story, Irene hears that a closed circle of the city's rich and powerful men will convene in secret at a local restaurant. Dragging along her homicide detective husband, Irene crashes the rendezvous and is there when one of the men has a heart attack. She then discovers that each of the men at the meeting has been visited by Lucas and presented with a copy of a photograph. Tracing the connections among the city bigwigs, Lucas and the photograph, gutsy Irene gets to the bottom of a mystery that takes on the tangled history of a city's development. Burke is in top form here. Author tour.
A drug kingpin on the FBI's Most Wanted list is found hanging upside down over a bathtub, his corpse drained of blood. The killing looks like an organized-crime payback hit-until another Ten Most Wanted criminal is found similarly strung up, and then another. Soon Detective Alex Brandon of the L.A. County Sheriff's Department is grappling not only with a testy partner and a complicated home life, but also with a band of brilliant vigilantes whom the public starts to regard as heroes.
Alex Brandon is almost too good to be true, with his penetrating blue eyes, his steely toughness, his politeness, and his tenacious smarts. But Jan Burke-best known for her well-regarded series featuring reporter Irene Kelly-is such a sane, intelligent writer that Brandon and the book's many other characters come vividly alive. She's also a fine craftsman of individual scenes, many of which are perfectly paced little dramas or comedies. Nine's gripping, multithreaded plot is sometimes too complex for its own good, and the climax tips into melodrama, but overall the reliable Burke, a past winner of the Edgar and other mystery awards, has produced another winning read.