Smart, atmospheric fun, with enough loose ends left dangling to assure fans there will be more entries in this enjoyable...

LADY COP MAKES TROUBLE

From the Kopp Sisters series , Vol. 2

Constance Kopp’s real-life adventures as “New Jersey’s first lady deputy sheriff” again make savory grist for Stewart’s fictional mill (Girl Waits with Gun, 2015, etc.).

When we reconnect with Constance in the summer of 1915, she's casually toting a revolver and collaring a male perp, as strong-minded and strong-armed as ever. Constance loves her new job and is grateful to liberal Sheriff Heath for making it possible for her to support her sister, Norma, and 18-year-old Fleurette, who thinks she's their sister but is in fact Constance’s illegitimate daughter. It’s a grievous disappointment to learn that the law enabling women to become police officers doesn’t necessarily apply to sheriff’s deputies and that until Sheriff Heath finds legal precedent for hiring Constance, she’s stuck in a stopgap position as matron at the local jail. Summoned to Hackensack Hospital to translate for Herman von Matthesius, a German-speaking prisoner taken there for allegedly suffering dire symptoms, Constance is at first glad for the excitement but then mortified when he slips away while she guards his door. Not only has she justified the sexist slurs of her former male colleagues, but her slip-up could send Sheriff Heath to jail. Constance determines to track down von Matthesius herself, giving straight-laced Mrs. Heath one more reason to disapprove of her, alongside the possibly accurate suspicion that the lady officer’s feelings for the sheriff are warmer than professional. As was the case in Girl Waits with Gun, plot details are less compelling than our rooting interest in Constance out-detecting all the men (which she does) and in the evocative period atmosphere, this time centered on the mean streets of early-20th-century New York City, where von Matthesius and his confederates lurk. Sharp-tongued Norma and pretty, stage-struck Fleurette head a vivid supporting cast, and the von Matthesius case and a subordinate mystery are satisfyingly wrapped up to Constance’s credit.

Smart, atmospheric fun, with enough loose ends left dangling to assure fans there will be more entries in this enjoyable series.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-40994-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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?

Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 15

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2018

  • New York Times Bestseller

CIRCE

A retelling of ancient Greek lore gives exhilarating voice to a witch.

“Monsters are a boon for gods. Imagine all the prayers.” So says Circe, a sly, petulant, and finally commanding voice that narrates the entirety of Miller’s dazzling second novel. The writer returns to Homer, the wellspring that led her to an Orange Prize for The Song of Achilles (2012). This time, she dips into The Odyssey for the legend of Circe, a nymph who turns Odysseus’ crew of men into pigs. The novel, with its distinctive feminist tang, starts with the sentence: “When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist.” Readers will relish following the puzzle of this unpromising daughter of the sun god Helios and his wife, Perse, who had negligible use for their child. It takes banishment to the island Aeaea for Circe to sense her calling as a sorceress: “I will not be like a bird bred in a cage, I thought, too dull to fly even when the door stands open. I stepped into those woods and my life began.” This lonely, scorned figure learns herbs and potions, surrounds herself with lions, and, in a heart-stopping chapter, outwits the monster Scylla to propel Daedalus and his boat to safety. She makes lovers of Hermes and then two mortal men. She midwifes the birth of the Minotaur on Crete and performs her own C-section. And as she grows in power, she muses that “not even Odysseus could talk his way past [her] witchcraft. He had talked his way past the witch instead.” Circe’s fascination with mortals becomes the book’s marrow and delivers its thrilling ending. All the while, the supernatural sits intriguingly alongside “the tonic of ordinary things.” A few passages coil toward melodrama, and one inelegant line after a rape seems jarringly modern, but the spell holds fast. Expect Miller’s readership to mushroom like one of Circe’s spells.

Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-55634-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

more