"In the hands of a less-talented writer, this multilayered, complicated plot might have fallen apart, but Russell makes it work, taunting, teasing, upsetting, and challenging the reader."
"...chillingly descriptive and packed with suspense, secrets, violence and nonstop action."
"The tension rises as the unpredictable plot skitters and jitters along, powered by smoothly understated prose."
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Readers looking for a superbly crafted, cleverly plotted, highly suspenseful thriller with a larger-than-life hero need look no further than Redbackor, indeed, the entire John Marquez series. Outstanding!"
—Booklist (starred review)
"Russell tackles both action sequences and intractable moral problems with
prose as sharp and efficient as a filleting knife..."
"...wildly fun and solidly convincing...undercover procedure, well-drawn characters, and the kind of description—whether of action or scenery—that leaves one gasping. Russell is at the top of his game."
—Booklist (starred review, and one of the top ten crime novels of the year!)
"Fans of Nevada Barr's national park series will find much to enjoy in Dead Game, especially in its complicated and very human hero."
—Tom and Enid Schantz, Denver Post
"Russell's simple, straightforward prose is perfectly-balanced, dissecting intractable
moral problems without once verging on preaching. When you ride along with Marquez you've got yourself a great guide to the natural world and all the species that inhabit it, all the way to the top of the food chain. Buy this book and hunker down. I guarantee you won't want to leave the house for a while."
—Carroll Johnson, ReviewingTheEvidence.com
"Splendid second outing in a procedural series....Russell manages expertly in shifting between scenes of shocking brutality and sour cynicism (for conniving bureaucrats and venal lawyers), not to mention in portraying the many levels of affection Marquez feels for his team, his family, the animals he's sworn to protect, and the magnificent wilderness that surrounds him. Superb suspense, culminating in an exhausting but satisfying series of chases, showdowns, and bitter glimpses of justice denied."
—Kirkus Reviews (starred selection)
"Genuine evil and heart-stopping action are not reserved solely for the gritty inner city,
but flourish as well in Kirk Russell's rural California settings in his second John
Marquez outing, Night Game. This is a series, and an author, to hitch on to."
"The return of the Fish and Game officer...John Marquez, this time working forests rather than the shore, proves the debut was no fluke. Russell writes of the wilds with deep knowledge, making his story achingly credible."
"Kirk Russell writes with the clarity of a mountain stream. He has captured a fascinating
subculture and peopled it with characters deep enough to drown in. The story flows
through the brain with an exhilarating rush."
"Night Game is an engaging, harrowing, and at times heart-breaking tale told with crisp but evocative prose. Author Kirk Russell guides us through a world of ruthless bear
poachers and organ harvesters, with an unerring eye for how the marginalized mandate
of wildlife protectors opens up into a much larger story of who we are and how we live. A bracing, convincing, and heartfelt read."
"There's a welcome newcomer in the territory currently dominated by Nevada Barr and
C.J. Box—the environmental thriller. Kirk Russell's Lt. John Marquez, an undercover
game warden operating in Northern California, is as stubborn and determined as
Barr's peripatetic park ranger Anna Pigeon and Box's Wyoming warden Joe Pickett...The tension never stops; one harrowing confrontation follows another.... Russell has a real feel for and love of the California wilderness. It is everywhere in the intensity of his writing. Ultimately, his thrillers show us that all life is fragile and too easily destroyed by greedy and evil men."
"You know as you read this one that you are on to something good. Kirk Russell comes out of the gate with a story brimming with fresh characters and artful prose. Shell Games announces the start of what I think will be a great series and career."
"The story is loaded with atmosphere...It's also made unself-consciously relevant with timely references. The SOU crew includes a variety of believable characters, not a one from central casting. The bad guys are as colorful as Elmore Leonard's cast of wise guys, but with ex-hippie and surfer dudes subbing for Leonard's thugs and made men. Russell could, and should, take Marquez and this crew out again."
"Compelling characters, unrelenting suspense, and vivid settings all add up to a great read. Kirk Russell's Shell Games is so well-crafted, it's hard to believe it's a first novel."
"Excellent . . . a compelling plot, fully realized characters, white-knuckle suspense, and unusual yet accessible settings. What truly sets it apart, though, is Kirk Russell's vigorous, lovely, unadorned prose. Shell Games marks the debut of a substantial
new talent in crime fiction."
"Russell should walk off with the award for far and away the most inventive new detective hero...."
"...a wonderfully unpredictable plot that holds the reader hostage to the very last page."
"A large part of the considerable strength of Kirk Russell's first mystery novel (along with his clear and pungent writing, especially about the primal weirdness of life along the Mendocino coast) comes from the way he makes us quickly believe in Marquez and his cause—mostly by letting us watch as the Fish and Gamers get frustrated."
—Dick Adler, Chicago Tribune