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

A KIND OF GRIEF

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

Reading anything by Slaughter is like riding a particularly scary amusement park ride. Reading this one is like booking a...

PIECES OF HER

A plain-Jane daughter’s 31st birthday celebration explodes into a nightmare within a nightmare in Slaughter’s latest stand-alone.

Andrea Oliver’s always felt inferior to her parents. Her father, Gordon Oliver, is a trusts and estates attorney; her mother, Dr. Laura Oliver, is a speech therapist. Andy herself has never aspired to any career goal higher than serving as an assistant to someone important. Even when she left Belle Isle, Georgia, for the Big Apple, she got nowhere, and she was only too eager to return home when her mother announced three years ago that she’d been diagnosed with breast cancer. As the two women mark Andy’s birthday by sharing lunch in a mall cafe, a crazed shooter opens fire on a mother-and-daughter pair who’ve stopped to greet Laura, and Andy’s life changes in an instant. Or rather two instants, the first when the shots ring out and the second when Laura, after inviting the killer to shoot her next, coolly and dispassionately dispatches him. It takes the dazed Andy hours to realize that her mother’s not at all who she seems to be, and by the time she’s ready to accept the fact that Laura Oliver is a woman with a past, that past is already racing to catch up with both mother and daughter. Cutting back and forth between Andy’s harrowing flight to nowhere after Laura pushes her out of her home and a backstory 30 years earlier involving the Army of the Changing World, a cell of amateur terrorists determined to strike a mortal blow against greedy capitalists and, it eventually turns out, each other as well, Slaughter (The Good Daughter, 2017, etc.) never abates her trademark intensity, and fans will feel that the story is pumping adrenalin directly into their bloodstreams. Long before the end, though, the impostures, secret identities, hidden motives, and double-crosses will have piled up past the point of no return, leaving the tale to run on adrenalin alone.

Reading anything by Slaughter is like riding a particularly scary amusement park ride. Reading this one is like booking a season ticket on a ride that never lets you off.

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-243027-4

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

more