MURDER AT OCHRE COURT

Plenty of red herrings and an intimate look at the world of the wealthy and famous make for a rich broth of a mystery.

The magnificent mansions of Newport, Rhode Island, provide the setting for high-society murder in the Gilded Age.

Emma Cross, a society columnist for a New York newspaper, yearns to be an investigative reporter like the famous Nellie Bly. She gets a chance when she’s sent to her hometown of Newport to report on a coming-out ball which will be attended by Silas Griggson, a self-made real estate developer; Silas is of interest because one of his tenements recently collapsed with fatal consequences, a calamity he blamed on a foreman who soon turned up dead. Emma, who counts the Vanderbilts among her relatives but struggles to keep up Gull Manor, the seaside home she inherited from an aunt, has two suitors: Derrick Andrews, wealthy, handsome, and willing to help her solve mysteries (Murder at Chateau su Mer, 2017, etc.), and Jesse Whyte, a Newport detective whose lifestyle is more like her own. At the ball, Emma picks up on uncomfortable undercurrents among the guests. When Cleo Cooper-Smith takes her place on a throne illuminated by electricity, the crowd is wowed until the lights go out. Hastily arranged candlelight reveals that Cleo’s been electrocuted. Although Cleo is not universally loved and has been cruel to her handicapped older sister, her father wants the electrician arrested. Emma, who’s known Dale Hanson for years, is convinced he had nothing to do with the death, which she soon discovers was murder. With friends among the idle rich and ordinary townsfolk alike, Emma is well-placed to dig up clues, and her search takes her from sumptuous mansions to the local Army post, her stubborn, unladylike behavior putting her in danger while she ponders her options.

Plenty of red herrings and an intimate look at the world of the wealthy and famous make for a rich broth of a mystery.

Pub Date: July 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4967-0336-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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

BADLANDS

A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be...

Box takes another break from his highly successful Joe Pickett series (Stone Cold, 2014, etc.) for a stand-alone about a police detective, a developmentally delayed boy, and a package everyone in North Dakota wants to grab.

Cassandra Dewell can’t leave Montana’s Lewis and Clark County fast enough for her new job as chief investigator for Jon Kirkbride, sheriff of Bakken County. She leaves behind no memories worth keeping: her husband is dead, her boss has made no bones about disliking her, and she’s looking forward to new responsibilities and the higher salary underwritten by North Dakota’s sudden oil boom. But Bakken County has its own issues. For one thing, it’s cold—a whole lot colder than the coldest weather Cassie’s ever imagined. For another, the job she turns out to have been hired for—leading an investigation her new boss doesn’t feel he can entrust to his own force—makes her queasy. The biggest problem, though, is one she doesn’t know about until it slaps her in the face. A fatal car accident that was anything but accidental has jarred loose a stash of methamphetamines and cash that’s become the center of a battle between the Sons of Freedom, Bakken County’s traditional drug sellers, and MS-13, the Salvadorian upstarts who are muscling in on their territory. It’s a setup that leaves scant room for law enforcement officers or for Kyle Westergaard, the 12-year-old paperboy damaged since birth by fetal alcohol syndrome, who’s walked away from the wreck with a prize all too many people would kill for.

A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be welcome to return and tie up the gaping loose end Box leaves. The unrelenting cold makes this the perfect beach read.

Pub Date: July 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-58321-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: April 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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