A marvelous addition to Clare’s varied repertoire of historical mysteries (The Angel in the Glass, 2018, etc.) introduces...

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THE WOMAN WHO SPOKE TO SPIRITS

A budding investigative agency takes on a new employee and two thorny cases.

Spring 1880 finds Lily Raynor returning to London from a stint of nursing in India and fleeing an undisclosed incident that changed her life. She's inherited her grandparents’ house and makes ends meet with the help of one annoying renter. Seeking office help for her World’s End Investigation Bureau, which has already solved a number of problems from missing dogs to cheating spouses, she interviews Felix Wilbraham, a young man dressed in good but worn clothes who’s obviously well-educated. Soon after she takes him on, Lily meets with Lord Berwick, who wants information on the actress Violetta da Rosa, with whom his young and unworldly son, Julian, has fallen in love. Felix is visited in turn by nervous Ernest Stibbins, who fear that someone plans to kill the much younger second wife who replaced his first, drowned after she fell off the Chelsea Bridge. Instead of disabusing Stibbins of the assumption that he’s Mr. Raynor, Felix accepts his case. Albertina Stibbins is a gifted psychic who senses a hidden threat to her life. As Lily worms her way into the circle of people who consult Albertina, Felix, no stranger to actresses or the theater, investigates Violetta, who he finds has both a boyfriend and an illegitimate daughter. Though he feels sorry for Violetta, Lily insists they must tell their client everything, a decision that has devastatingly unforeseen consequences. A disgruntled reporter tells Felix that many women have been discovered in the river just as dead as the first Mrs. Stibbins, but the police have no interest in investigating. Lily, who finds Albertina’s séances disquieting, feels a black cloud hanging over her as they investigate the members of the séance group, hoping to find who or what is threatening Albertina.

A marvelous addition to Clare’s varied repertoire of historical mysteries (The Angel in the Glass, 2018, etc.) introduces two captivating new detectives and features a surprising denouement.

Pub Date: June 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7278-8868-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Severn House

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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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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Locke’s advancement here is so bracing that you can’t wait to discover what happens next along her East Texas highway.

HEAVEN, MY HOME

The redoubtable Locke follows up her Edgar-winning Bluebird, Bluebird (2017) with an even knottier tale of racism and deceit set in the same scruffy East Texas boondocks.

It’s the 2016 holiday season, and African American Texas Ranger Darren Matthews has plenty of reasons for disquiet besides the recent election results. Chiefly there’s the ongoing fallout from Darren’s double murder investigation involving the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas. He and his wife are in counseling. He’s become a “desk jockey” in the Rangers’ Houston office while fending off suspicions from a district attorney who thinks Darren hasn’t been totally upfront with him about a Brotherhood member’s death. (He hasn’t.) And his not-so-loving mother is holding on to evidence that could either save or crucify him with the district attorney. So maybe it’s kind of a relief for Darren to head for the once-thriving coastal town of Jefferson, where the 9-year-old son of another Brotherhood member serving hard time for murdering a black man has gone missing while motorboating on a nearby lake. Then again, there isn’t that much relief given the presence of short-fused white supremacists living not far from descendants of the town’s original black and Native American settlers—one of whom, an elderly black man, is a suspect in the possible murder of the still-missing boy. Meanwhile, Darren’s cultivating his own suspicions of chicanery involving the boy’s wealthy and imperious grandmother, whose own family history is entwined with the town’s antebellum past and who isn’t so fazed with her grandson’s disappearance that she can’t have a lavish dinner party at her mansion. In addition to her gifts for tight pacing and intense lyricism, Locke shows with this installment of her Highway 59 series a facility for unraveling the tangled strands of the Southwest’s cultural legacy and weaving them back together with the volatile racial politics and traumatic economic stresses of the present day. With her confident narrative hands on the wheel, this novel manages to evoke a portrait of Trump-era America—which, as someone observes of a pivotal character in the story, resembles “a toy ball tottering on a wire fence” that “could fall either way.”

Locke’s advancement here is so bracing that you can’t wait to discover what happens next along her East Texas highway.

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-36340-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Mulholland Books/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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