4. The Laughing Buddha [Malachai Samuels vs. D.D. Warren] by M.J. Rose vs. Lisa Gardner
I think this story was inherently going to be disappointing for what I wanted out of these. Like the previous story this one was hero vs. villain, not hero teaming up with hero as the first two were. Worse - from my perspective - Samuels is a protagonist villain, ever-slippery evading the grasp of the law, so this is effectively forbidden from being a story in which D.D. Warren gets one over him.
Since I’m not familiar with either character I can’t tell how usual or not this one is for their stories, but here Samuels is not the direct villain. Just someone who gives off villain vibes and would rather get hold of key evidence to satisfy his personal goals.
Ultimately felt unsatisfying, like it was just some stuff that happened without resolution. Seemed particularly not a good recommendation for the Malachai Samuels stories, as I get the impression he is on a quest treadmill and perhaps never quite gets to further his goals. Maybe if I were familiar with and already liked the characters I would have enjoyed seeing them in action again.