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KAPPY KING AND THE PIE KAPER

Experienced readers will have little trouble solving the mystery, but the likable characters and Edie’s slow progress in...

Two wildly different ladies are challenged by yet another death in the Amish community of Blue Sky.

Since Kappy King and her best friend, Edie Peachy, have already solved several murders (Kappy King and the Pickle Kaper, 2018, etc.), police officer Jack Jones isn’t surprised when they stick their noses into a new tragedy. Many rumors abound about why Alma Miller is in the hospital in a coma, but Kappy knows more than most because Jack’s asked her for help in deciphering some words written in flour on Alma’s kitchen floor. Jack thinks these words may be in Pennsylvania Dutch, but Kappy says that they’re in English rendered obscure by Alma’s bad penmanship. Even so, she finds it hard to make sense of what appear to be the words "nine babies" and "ME blue." Edie, who’s been banned by the community for going over to the English world, is attracted to Jack, who’s especially good with her younger brother, Jimmy, a hard worker with Down syndrome who loves animals and helps Edie continue their murdered mother’s beagle-breeding business. Alma was well-liked, but many were jealous of her prizewinning pies—especially Frannie Lehman, who’s tired of finishing second. Since none of the Amish will talk to Edie, Kappy must ask all the questions as they dig into Alma’s background looking for clues to the cryptic message she left. Jack thinks Frannie is the best bet, especially after he learns that the only things missing from Alma’s home are a quilt and her recipe box. This year’s pie contest involves high stakes: One of the judges who represents Mrs. O’Malley’s Pies may want to purchase the recipe for the winning boysenberry pie. Insider knowledge and long memories will help Kappy and Edie solve the crime.

Experienced readers will have little trouble solving the mystery, but the likable characters and Edie’s slow progress in re-embracing her Amish side will keep fans coming back for more.

Pub Date: Dec. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4201-4301-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Zebra/Kensington

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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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 WINNER

Irritatingly trite woman-in-periler from lawyer-turned-novelist Baldacci. Moving away from the White House and the white-shoe Washington law firms of his previous bestsellers (Absolute Power, 1996; Total Control, 1997), Baldacci comes up with LuAnn Tyler, a spunky, impossibly beautiful, white-trash truck stop waitress with a no-good husband and a terminally cute infant daughter in tow. Some months after the birth of Lisa, LuAnn gets a phone call summoning her to a make-shift office in an unrented storefront of the local shopping mall. There, she gets a Faustian offer from a Mr. Jackson, a monomaniacal, cross-dressing manipulator who apparently knows the winning numbers in the national lottery before the numbers are drawn. It seems that LuAnn fits the media profile of what a lottery winner should be—poor, undereducated but proud—and if she's willing to buy the right ticket at the right time and transfer most of her winnings to Jackson, she'll be able to retire in luxury. Jackson fails to inform her, however, that if she refuses his offer, he'll have her killed. Before that can happen, as luck would have it, LuAnn barely escapes death when one of husband Duane's drug deals goes bad. She hops on a first-class Amtrak sleeper to Manhattan with a hired executioner in pursuit. But executioner Charlie, one of Jackson's paid handlers, can't help but hear wedding bells when he sees LuAnn cooing with her daughter. Alas, a winning $100- million lottery drawing complicates things. Jackson spirits LuAnn and Lisa away to Sweden, with Charlie in pursuit. Never fear. Not only will LuAnn escape a series of increasingly violent predicaments, but she'll also outwit Jackson, pay an enormous tax bill to the IRS, and have enough left over to honeymoon in Switzerland. Too preposterous to work as feminine wish-fulfillment, too formulaic to be suspenseful. (Book-of-the-Month Club main selection)

Pub Date: Dec. 2, 1997

ISBN: 0-446-52259-7

Page Count: 528

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1997

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