"Bonita Palms" Book Reviews


kirkus media (September 2019)

A quiet Florida community becomes the site of a string of murders in this thriller. 

Deputy Sheriff Miles Delany is investigating a murder scene in Bonita Palms. This gated community, with residents’ average age in the mid-50s, is an area with few serious crimes. But this one’s a doozy: It appears the victim, Cathy Sinclair, knew the killer, as there’s no indication of forced entry and no valuables are missing. Subsequent narrative perspectives from various people in Bonita Palms gradually reveal shady goings-on, from infidelity to blackmail. Unfortunately, more homicides with the same M.O. follow, and two local mayors in Lee County demand that Delany find a suspect and make an arrest. Both mayors seem to be looking for a reason to hand the case to one of their friends: former Deputy Sheriff Hank Broderick. Delany is already taking anti-anxiety meds, stemming from a past tragedy, and upping his dosage has unpleasant repercussions, such as getting into a scuffle with strangers. The drug regimen also presents a potential obstacle to his newfound romance with medical examiner Sara Churchill. Once he finally has a suspect, Delany rushes to uncover hard evidence and give himself a chance to stop a serial killer. Ross’ (The Doll Brokers, 2014, etc.) novel is a masterful blend of character development and mystery. Bonita Palms residents, for example, dabble in assorted misdeeds while murders intermittently occur. This results in probable victims who are unsympathetic, but it also makes identifying the killer difficult. In contrast, Delany’s tenacity in resolving the investigation is admirable, despite his grim backstory in Chicago and troubles with prescription drugs. With so much focus on individual characters, the author keeps the plot moving with ease. His straightforward prose never graphically details homicides or the occasional sex. But the mystery eventually relies on Delany’s hypothesis—a wild speculation that gives him a break in the case. The ending, too, is bizarre, though undeniably memorable. 

An entertaining, sometimes-erratic mystery with flawed but indelible characters. 

Lucy Zilio (Host of "Tuned In," Rogers Media)

Bonita Palms is an exciting page-turning whodunit that keeps you guessing to the very end.

Who and why is someone going around a fancy neighborhood in Florida murdering these perfectly imperfect rich housewives?  There was no forced entry in any of the cases so apparently, it must be someone they all know!

Right when you think it’s one suspect, the twists and turns take you to another… even the investigator himself.....who, by the way, has the best miserable back story of them all.

If you love a good puzzle, you’ll want to see how all these pieces interlock.  I loved all the details, scandals and angles.  

Thanks for a great puzzle, Hal Ross!

"reviews and trends" magazine (December 2019)

Hal Ross, the author that brought us The Deadliest Game and Doll Brokers, releases his fourth book, Bonita Palms; set in a posh community with intrigue throughout and a shocking finale. 

The upscale and exclusive community of Bonita Palms, Florida is rocked when a series of murders break out. While affairs, corruption and cosmetic enhancements may be part of the normal, although unspoken lifestyle, murders are certainly not. There seems to be one unequivocal connection; each of the victims must have known their killer. Deputy Sheriff Miles Delaney is on the case and fighting for his job, which, until this moment, had appeared secure. He struggles to discover elusive clues and keep the political gyrations threatening his position at bay. Then he stumbles across an unsuspected correlation between his personal life and what may be happening in the community. The body count rises as Delaney himself becomes a suspect. How many more lives will be taken as a game of politics plays out?

Ross brings us this thrilling story and takes on the relevant topic of opioid drug use in a way that will keep readers guessing and questioning what they know, or think they know. The story arc moves with great pace and Ross’s character development helps the reader connect with all the players. Bonita Palms is sure to raise some eyebrows and leave readers racing through to discover what is reality and what is merely a shadow of what it appears to be.