Though it’s amusing on its own terms, the constant infighting among lowlifes keeps this installment below Atkins’ high...


Quinn Colson, the sheriff of Mississippi’s Tibbehah County, juggles old-school and newfangled gangs while praying that someone will get him to the church on time.

Now that Quinn’s finally looking forward to getting married and acquiring an instant family that includes nurse Maggie Powers and her 7-year-old son, Brandon, he’d love to cut back on the crime-busting. Fate, as usual, has other plans. Heath Pritchard, the incorrigible marijuana grower Quinn’s late uncle and predecessor Hamp Beckett locked up 23 years ago, has just been released, and he’s eager to horn in on his nephews, dirt-track racers Tyler and Cody Pritchard, who’ve been carrying on the family business on their own less obtrusive terms. Heath’s unforgettable way of announcing his return to his nearest and dearest is to tell them that he needs their help disposing of the remains of Ordeen Davis, whom he caught nosing around on the Pritchard spread. Fannie Hathcock wouldn’t have sent Ordeen, her bartender and general factotum at Vienna’s Place, the county’s premier cathouse, over there in the first place if she hadn’t been getting squeezed between the Pritchard boys, who’d been violating a long-standing agreement with her by running way more weed than they could have been raising themselves, and the Dixie Mafia, for whom she’s been laundering money and providing other services for years and who now send a pair of hands-on managers to Vienna’s Place. The only one who’s in a position to do anything about this mess, it seems, is Quinn’s old friend Boom Kimbrough, whom DEA agent Nathalie Wilkins is pressing to go undercover at Sutpen Trucking, still another major player in the drug trade. Will Boom last long enough to serve as Quinn’s best man?

Though it’s amusing on its own terms, the constant infighting among lowlifes keeps this installment below Atkins’ high standard (The Fallen, 2017, etc.). When bad guys are mostly targeting other bad guys, there’s just not that much for good guys to do besides stand aside and watch the carnage.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-57674-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 29, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.


A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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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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