Scott (The Low Road, 2014, etc.) skillfully uses the beauty of the Highlands as a backdrop for an entrancing mystery whose...


A woman’s feelings of guilt over the death of someone she admired enmesh her in a dangerous search for the truth.

Joanne Ross still suffers from low self-esteem caused by a bullying father, an abusive former husband, and a near-death experience at the hands of a colleague. Now married to John McAllister, editor of the Highland Gazette, she’s given up her job, but not her curiosity, to stay home with her two girls and work on a novel. In 1959, life in the Scottish Highlands remains old-fashioned in many ways, so Joanne’s not entirely surprised to read about a woman tried and acquitted for witchcraft. Determined to write an article about the woman, Alice Ramsay, she sets off for Sutherland. Alice is an artist in her late 40s, and though she tells Joanne that she doesn't want an article written about her, she kindly invites her into her house for tea. Joanne is enchanted by the ambiance of her cottage and the quality of Alice's artwork. Unfortunately, a colleague—the local art critic—cajoles Joanne into speaking unwisely. When he publishes a story about the witch trial, with details about Alice's house that only Joanne could have known, Alice is furious and refuses to speak to her again. Then Alice is found dead, an apparent suicide, though Joanne is convinced there’s more to the story. She and McAllister buy some of Alice’s paintings, sketches, and books at the auction of her property, a purchase that brings them afoul of one of Britain’s secret agencies, desperate to regain its reputation after the Burgess/Maclean case has made them a laughingstock. Although they’re threatened with the Official Secrets Act, McAllister, anxious to see Joanne become whole again, does not demur when she stubbornly insists on investigating Alice’s background and tries to find what the nameless secret agency is so desperate to hide.

Scott (The Low Road, 2014, etc.) skillfully uses the beauty of the Highlands as a backdrop for an entrancing mystery whose characters repeatedly and pleasurably upstage its action.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4767-5618-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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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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Joe’s fifth case is his best balanced, most deeply felt and most mystifying to date: an absolute must.


Crime-fighting Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett outdoes himself during a temporary transfer from sleepy Saddlestring to fashionable Jackson Hole.

Will Jensen, the Jackson game warden, was a great guy and a model warden, but once his wife left him six months ago, he spiraled into madness and suicide, and now Joe’s been called to replace him. The transition is anything but smooth. There’s no question of Joe’s family coming with him, so he’s reduced to hoping he can get a signal for the cell-phone calls he squeezes into his busy schedule. En route to his new posting, Joe has to pursue a marauding grizzly. He arrives to meet a formidable series of challenges. Cantankerous outfitter Smoke Van Horn wants to go on attracting elk with illegal salt licks without the new warden’s interference. Animal Liberation Network activist Pi Stevenson wants him to publicize her cause and adopt a vegan diet. Developer Don Ennis wants to open a housing development for millionaires who like their meat free of additives. Ennis’s trophy wife Stella simply wants Joe—and he wants her back. As he wrestles with these demands, and with a supervisor riled over Joe’s track record of destroying government property in pursuit of bad guys (Trophy Hunt, 2004, etc.), Joe slowly becomes convinced that Will did not kill himself.

Joe’s fifth case is his best balanced, most deeply felt and most mystifying to date: an absolute must.

Pub Date: May 5, 2005

ISBN: 0-399-15291-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

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