Readers who’ve always wanted to see Spenser in Tinseltown can cross that off their bucket lists.



Spenser goes to Hollywood.

In the two years since she’s moved from Cambridge to Los Angeles in pursuit of stardom, Gabrielle Leggett has been a dog walker, a personal assistant, a model, an actress, a media influencer, and now, for the past two weeks, a missing person. The LAPD knows about Gabby’s disappearance, but her mother, dissatisfied with their efforts, sends Spenser (Robert B. Parker’s Old Black Magic, 2018, etc.) out to the Left Coast to do the job right. Predictably, Gabby’s agent and former romantic partner, Eric Collinson, doesn’t want to talk to him. Neither does Jeffrey Bloom, the acting coach who thought Gabby had just dropped out of his class, or Jimmy Yamashiro, the married studio CEO who took Collinson’s place. And the only thing publicist Nancy Sharp, Gabby’s ex-boss, wants to talk about is how much fun she and Spenser could have if he’d only lighten up. Eventually Spenser works his contacts to get an audience with Yamashiro, but the results are less than impressive. He must be making an impression, though, because five Armenian thugs ambush him and shoot his West Coast associate, Zebulun Sixkill, in the arm, disabling him and requiring Spenser to look for another sidekick. Eventually he gets a lead that connects Gabby to Joseph Haldorn, aka Phaethon, the founder of HELIOS, a hush-hush organization that promises self-actualization and conducts itself suspiciously like a cult. But instead of thickening, the mystery surrounding Gabby just gets more violent and diffuse. Surprisingly, Atkins gets the hardest parts right—his hero/narrator now sounds indistinguishable from Robert B. Parker’s—but bogs down in the plotting, the area in which he presumably had the freest hand. As for the cod-out-of-water milieu, it evokes not so much particular SoCal locations as dozens of earlier SoCal whodunits.

Readers who’ve always wanted to see Spenser in Tinseltown can cross that off their bucket lists.

Pub Date: Nov. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53682-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.


Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Creepy, violent, and propulsive; a standout gothic mystery.


Lady detective Bridie Devine searches for a missing child and finds much more than she bargained for.

Bridie Devine is no stranger to the seedy underworld of Victorian London. An accomplished detective with medical training, she sometimes helps the police by examining bodies to determine the cause of death. Bridie recently failed to find a lost child, and when she’s approached about another missing child, the daughter of Sir Edmund Berwick, she isn’t enthusiastic about taking on the case. But Christabel Berwick is no ordinary child. Sir Edmund has hidden Christabel away her whole life and wants Bridie to believe this is an ordinary kidnapping. Bridie does a little digging and learns that Christabel isn’t his daughter so much as his prized specimen. Sir Edmund believes Christabel is a “merrow,” a darker and less romanticized version of a mermaid. Bridie is skeptical, but there are reports of Christabel’s sharp teeth, color-changing eyes, and ability to drown people on dry land. Given that Bridie’s new companion is a ghost who refuses to tell her why he’s haunting her, Bridie might want to open her mind a bit. There’s a lot going on in this singular novel, and none of it pretty. Bridie’s London is soaked with mud and blood, and her past is nightmarish at best. Kidd (Mr. Flood’s Last Resort, 2018, etc.) is an expert at setting a supernatural mood perfect for ghosts and merrows, but her human villains make them seem mundane by comparison. With so much detail and so many clever, Dickensian characters, readers might petition Kidd to give Bridie her own series.

Creepy, violent, and propulsive; a standout gothic mystery.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-2128-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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