Readers taken in by Atkins’ sureness of touch in the first half of this schizoid yarn richly deserve to get flimflammed by...

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ROBERT B. PARKER'S LITTLE WHITE LIES

A damsel in distress enlists Boston’s most storied private eye in her cause and then has second and third thoughts.

M. Brooks Welles, if that's his real name, seemed so wonderful. He was a good bit older than Jumpstart administrator Connie Kelly, but that was no problem: Dr. Susan Silverman tells Spenser that Connie’s always been attracted to older men, and Connie confesses it was a rush to be seen with an anti-terrorist pundit who was constantly invited onto talk shows. Now that Welles has stolen her heart and $300,000, though, she wants him to pay. It doesn’t take long for Spenser to track down Johnny Gredoni, the gun shop owner who was Welles’ partner in a land deal that went south, taking Connie’s money with it, or much longer to find out that virtually everything Welles told Connie, from his background at Harvard to the CIA, is a bill of goods. But the ironclad contract Welles had Connie sign would make it nearly impossible for her to sue him even if Spenser could find him. Then, incredibly, Spenser does find him, and it does no good. Welles simply smirks his way back into Connie’s good graces, and she tearfully tells Spenser that his services are no longer required. Spenser goes back to the apartment in the Charlestown Navy Yard he’s called home ever since his old place was torched (Robert B. Parker’s Slow Burn, 2016, etc.), cashes Connie’s check, and tells himself the case is over. Wrong. Act 2 will send Spenser and Hawk to Welles’ old stamping ground, the Greater Faith Ministries of Georgia, for a tussle with gun-running pastors that floats so wildly free of Spenser’s initial investigation that it might have been written by yet another Robert B. Parker wannabe.

Readers taken in by Atkins’ sureness of touch in the first half of this schizoid yarn richly deserve to get flimflammed by the bait-and-switch that follows.

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-17700-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

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.

THINGS IN JARS

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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