March 2nd, 2024
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March's Must-Reads: Mystery, Romance, and Thrills Await!

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Calico, November 2023
by Lee Goldberg

Severn House
Featuring: Owen Slader; Amanda Selby; Beth McDade
415 pages
ISBN: 144831013X
EAN: 9781448310135
Kindle: B0C5JVS1SC
Hardcover / e-Book
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"A time-twisting thriller visits a Mojave desert mining town"

Fresh Fiction Review

Lee Goldberg

Reviewed by Clare O'Beara
Posted November 6, 2023

Thriller Paranormal - Supernatural | Thriller Police Procedural | Thriller Historical

CALICO is the most fun I’ve had with time travel all year. The Mojave Desert is the location of old abandoned mine works, touristy ghost towns, wide open country, and military bases. But it was once a hotbed of mining activity, and thousands of people made a living. Beth McDade, a detective demoted from LAPD to Barstow, California after starting a relationship with another officer, is about to work on the most puzzling case of her life.

The detective is called to the scene of a distressing road accident. A motorhome struck a running man during a lightning storm near a road stop. The victim is dressed in 1880s period costume like that worn in the nearby ghost town of Calico for a tourist photo op. Amanda Selby, the medical examiner, finds that this stranger had no access to modern medicine. I’ll spare you the details. I was thinking that the man had been abducted and forced to work for years, but the revelation is even stranger.

Owen Slader, a Los Angeles chef famous on YouTube, encounters the same storm while driving home from Las Vegas in his Mercedes SUV and suddenly hits a bad road surface. When he gets out, armed with his iPhone for a torch, there’s no phone signal. He decides to explore – but carefully.

Bill Knox, the Security Chief at the Marine Corps Logistics Base, is soon alerted that Beth McDade is looking into the appearance of the dead man and the mysterious disappearance of Owen Slader. The tension picks up fast.

I had a great time reading this story, a mix of Western police procedural, a body in the morgue revealing secrets, and a great deal of historical research, with no glossy film work to cover up the smells and dirt. Lee Goldberg, an accomplished crime author, provides details of his research at the end so anyone interested can read further. Enough unusual and interesting characters are provided to make the story feel authentic. However, I was not keen on the female detective wanting to pick up a random man every night, as this seems more like a male fantasy of how a strong woman might behave. It also distracts from the adventure. CALICO is named for an old-West mining town we can visit today, and the fun and excitement of this trip would be accentuated by reading this twisty thriller.

Learn more about Calico


From #1 New York Times bestselling author Lee Goldberg, comes an explosive, page-turning investigative thriller - with a mind-blowing twist.

There's a saying in Barstow, California, a decaying city in the scorching Mojave desert . . .

The Interstate here only goes in one direction: Away.

But it's the only place where ex-LAPD detective Beth McDade, after a staggering fall from grace, could get another badge . . . and a shot at redemption.

Over a century ago, and just a few miles further into the bleak landscape, a desperate stranger ended up in Calico, a struggling mining town, also hoping for a second chance.

His fate, all those years ago, and hers today are linked when Beth investigates an old skeleton dug up in a shallow, sandy grave . . . and also tries to identity a vagrant run-over by a distracted motorhome driver during a lightning storm.

Every disturbing clue she finds, every shocking discovery she makes, force Beth to confront her own troubled past . . . and a past that's not her own . . . until it all smashes together in a revelation that could change the world.

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