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THE UNWEDDING

A gorgeous murder mystery that explores what it means to be human—the pain and the love.

A recently divorced woman confronts her loss, even as she helps to solve two murders—and survives a belligerent storm.

Ellery Wainwright arrives at Big Sur’s Resort at Broken Point to celebrate her 20th anniversary—alone. Following her recent divorce, she’s been adrift, torturing herself with memories, trying to stay strong for her kids, and this “vacation” seems like a mistake until she meets Ravi and Nina, two other guests, who take her under their wings. The resort, known for its eclectic art collection in addition to the beautiful views and luxury accommodations, is also hosting a wedding. It’s a shock when the groom leaves the bride at the altar. Of course, it’s even more of a shock when Ellery discovers the groom’s body floating in the pool the next morning. Was he dead before the wedding? If so, who sent the breakup text message? When another guest dies shortly after, victim of a suspicious fall, Ellery, Ravi, and Nina continue their amateur sleuthing—but their biggest problem might be the weather. A storm of the century bears down on Big Sur, washing out bridges and roads, stranding the guests in this extremely clever version of a locked-room mystery. While the structure might not be completely original, there’s a lot about this book to set it apart, including the wild danger of the setting. Most notable are the characters who, while perhaps representing some familiar types, truly do jump off the page as three-dimensional, engaging people, Ellery most of all. Her heartbreak is real, and relatable, as is her past trauma of witnessing another death and her fierce love for her children. Like any successful literary detective, she is “the one on the outside, watching,” and Condie gives her the empathy, and grace, to understand that “you get to keep that. The way you let yourself love someone and really feel it, and the loss.” In this way, the novel is more about healing than it is about death.

A gorgeous murder mystery that explores what it means to be human—the pain and the love.

Pub Date: June 4, 2024

ISBN: 9781538757604

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2024

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A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

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. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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THE BURNING

A brutal, gripping look at murder in a self-enclosed community with many secrets to hide.

When two police officers stop for a bit of dalliance, screams from the nearby woods introduce them to a puzzling and horrifying murder.

Chuck Skidmore and Mona Kurtz don’t arrive in time to rescue a man who’s being burned at the stake, a sight that will haunt their dreams. Police Chief Kate Burkholder arrives on the scene with her husband, John Tomasetti, an agent of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, who’ll join her and many other cops in a task force investigating the bizarre murder. Born Amish, Kate ran away from Painters Mill, found her vocation in law enforcement, and eventually came home as the police department’s chief. Over the years, she’s built up some trust with the local Amish community, who generally prefer to keep their problems to themselves. The victim is Milan Swanz, a troubled former schoolmate of Kate’s whom she’s arrested several times. A divorced man with four children, he’d been recently excommunicated by the Amish. Although Milan was far from popular, Kate meets a wall of silence from even her own brother, one of many people who had disputes with the hot-tempered man. Kate’s theory of the crime, based on stories in a book popular with the Amish, is so bizarre that she has trouble believing it herself. When her brother is arrested, she’s removed from the task force but continues to investigate, putting her in the sights of some very determined killers.

A brutal, gripping look at murder in a self-enclosed community with many secrets to hide.

Pub Date: July 9, 2024

ISBN: 9781250781116

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2024

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