Huber (This Side of Murder, 2017, etc.) draws on the beauties and dangers of the mysterious moorlands to provide a fitting...

A BRUSH WITH SHADOWS

A missing heir, an estranged family, and a possible poisoner add up to a pretty puzzle for two far-from-disinterested sleuths.

July 1831. Lady Keira Darby and her husband, Sebastian Gage, have been summoned to Langstone Manor in Dartmoor by his maternal grandfather, the Viscount Tavistock, to help find Sebastian's cousin Alfred, who's gone missing. Sebastian was raised at Langstone Manor but hasn’t visited for 15 years. He has traumatic memories of his mother’s death by poisoning and of being bullied by Alfred and his brother, Rory, and disliked by their mother, Vanessa. On their arrival, they learn that Alfred’s disappeared for a day or two at a time in the past, but now he's been gone for 11 days. His grandfather’s been pressing him to marry a well-bred heiress, but Alfred, who’s always been wild, has other plans. Keira isn't surprised to be treated badly by Vanessa; after all, before she married Sebastian, she was the notorious widow of an anatomist who forced her to use her artistic talents to illustrate his textbook (The Anatomist’s Wife, 2012), quite a scandalous job for a lady. Despite her outsider status, she slowly begins to learn more about Sebastian’s family. His father, now a well-known detective, was a naval officer not thought good enough for his mother, who was not the first family member to be poisoned. While looking into Alfred's disappearance, Keira meets Lorna Galloway, the beautiful bastard daughter of a wealthy man who provides her with a cottage on the moors, where she’s known as a hedge witch. Although Lorna disclaims all knowledge of Alfred’s whereabouts, Keira is sure that she loves him and is hiding information. Because the aged viscount is gravely ill, Sebastian is determined to find Alfred dead or alive despite his dislike of his relatives—and dead seems more likely.

Huber (This Side of Murder, 2017, etc.) draws on the beauties and dangers of the mysterious moorlands to provide a fitting setting for a knotty mystery filled with envy, greed, and thwarted love.

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-58722-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: Dec. 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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

BADLANDS

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 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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