Once again, the fifth from Parker (Iron Ties, 2013, etc.) is much better history than mystery, drawing the reader into the...

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WHAT GOLD BUYS

A feuding couple returns to Colorado only to become embroiled in several murders.

Mark and Inez Stannert own the Silver Queen Saloon together with Abe Jackson, whom Mark has known since the Civil War. The couple has just come home to Leadville from an extended trip to Inez’s relatives in Manitou Springs. After Mark vanished for more than a year, Inez had started divorce proceedings, which are currently on hold. But she took a lover in Mark’s absence, and the Rev. Justice B. Sands is still first in her heart. While visiting Abe’s very pregnant wife, Angel, Inez meets Madame Drina Grizzi, a fortuneteller visiting Mrs. Alexander, the local undertaker’s wife. When Drina is found strangled with fancy corset laces, Inez is drawn into the mystery of her murder because she recognizes the laces—which were sold in her saloon by a drummer specializing in fancy ladies’ unmentionables who’s shortly found dead himself—and because she’s met Drina’s daughter, Antonia, who’s posing as a newsboy called Tony. Tony had tried to shoot Brown, one of the English remittance men who patronize the Silver Queen, thinking he’s the same Brown who Drina always claimed was coming to rescue them from poverty. Inez tries to hide Tony, dressed as a girl, with a friend, but she insists on going to work for the undertaker in hopes of finding her mother’s vanished body. The town is filled with rumors concerning doctors who steal bodies to dissect them, the Reverend’s behavior, and the possibility that the Englishman Brown's promising claim may actually be worthless. While Mark tries every trick in the book to keep Inez from divorcing him, she attempts to hunt down a killer while agonizing over the difficult decision she must make.

Once again, the fifth from Parker (Iron Ties, 2013, etc.) is much better history than mystery, drawing the reader into the stunning beauty and harsh realities of life in 1880s Colorado.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4642-0623-8

Page Count: 412

Publisher: Poisoned Pen

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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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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Child builds tension to unbearable extremes, then blows it out in sharply choreographed violence, even if his plot has more...

ECHO BURNING

From the Jack Reacher series , Vol. 5

Smashingly suspenseful fifth in Child’s series (Running Blind, 2000, etc.) lands this British author’s rootless, laconic action hero in southwest Texas, where a femme fatale lures him into a family squabble that inevitably turns violent.

In the kind of daylight-noir setting that Jim Thompson loved, ex-military cop Jack Reacher has his thumb out on a lonely west Texas highway when he’s picked up by Carmine Greer, the Mexican-American wife of bad-ol’-boy Sloop Greer. It seems that Sloop, elder son of a white-trash-turned-oil-rich ranching dynasty, is nearing the end of a prison term for tax evasion, and Carmine, whose body Reacher sees is marked with signs of physical abuse, wants Reacher to be her bodyguard—or, failing that, kill the man in such a way that Carmine can still hold on to her terminally cute six-year-old daughter Ellie. Reacher refuses but decides to meet the folks: Rusty, Sloop’s racist, charmless mother, and Bobby, Sloop’s stupid, pugnacious brother. Meanwhile, a trio of paid assassins is littering the Texas roadside with corpses, starting with Sloop’s lawyer, Al Eugene. In a set-piece as good as anything in Elmore Leonard, Bobby sends two ranch-hands to ambush Reacher at an Abilene roadhouse filled with 20 other cowboys spoiling for a fight. Reacher walks away without a scratch, telling Bobby that his hospitalized ranch-hands have “quit.” Child twists his increasingly hokey plot into a pretzel when Sloop is found dead and Carmine confesses to killing him. Reacher just can’t believe that Carmine is guilty and teams up with Alice Aarons, a leggy Jewish lesbian fresh out of law school, who trusts him with her car, her handgun, and her life.

Child builds tension to unbearable extremes, then blows it out in sharply choreographed violence, even if his plot has more holes in it than the shirt Reacher uses for target practice.

Pub Date: July 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-399-14726-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2001

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