Paring back on her usual period detail, Perry produces her fleetest tale in years. If the courtroom sequences are never...

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BLIND JUSTICE

William Monk, of Queen Victoria’s Thames River Police (A Sunless Sea, 2012, etc.), steps outside his bailiwick to rescue his friend Sir Oliver Rathbone from a dire fate.

It all begins when Monk’s wife, Hester, hears from Josephine Raleigh, one of her assistants at the clinic she runs in Portpool Lane, that Abel Taft has extracted so many donations to the poor from his Nonconformist congregants that some of them, including Josephine’s father, John, are approaching destitution themselves. Brothel keeper–turned-bookkeeper Squeaky Robinson, pressed by Hester to investigate the Brothers of the Poor, soon reports that precious few of those donations are actually going to the poor, and Taft is promptly put on trial for fraud. Rathbone, newly appointed to the bench, is the presiding judge, and he soon realizes that the case isn’t going nearly as well as it should. Under the expert questioning of Taft’s barrister, Blair Gavinton, Brothers of the Poor steward Robertson Drew succeeds in making Taft’s accusers, including Hester herself, look silly, intemperate or malicious. Suddenly, Rathbone realizes that he has a secret weapon against Drew: an extremely compromising photograph bequeathed to him by his malignant father-in-law, Arthur Ballinger (Execution Dock, 2009), that would utterly destroy Drew’s reputation and render his testimony worthless. Should he share the photo with prosecutor Dillon Warne or keep it to himself? After much agonizing, Rathbone decides to share it—and then watches as a stunning development in the case leads to his own arrest for perverting the course of justice. Now it looks as if the imprisoned judge will either rot in jail or fall victim to one of the criminals he’d tried—unless of course Monk and Hester can somehow clear his name.

Paring back on her usual period detail, Perry produces her fleetest tale in years. If the courtroom sequences are never exactly surprising, they’re guaranteed to produce the deep satisfaction you feel after hearing a series of particularly rousing speeches.

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-345-53670-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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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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Locke’s advancement here is so bracing that you can’t wait to discover what happens next along her East Texas highway.

HEAVEN, MY HOME

The redoubtable Locke follows up her Edgar-winning Bluebird, Bluebird (2017) with an even knottier tale of racism and deceit set in the same scruffy East Texas boondocks.

It’s the 2016 holiday season, and African American Texas Ranger Darren Matthews has plenty of reasons for disquiet besides the recent election results. Chiefly there’s the ongoing fallout from Darren’s double murder investigation involving the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas. He and his wife are in counseling. He’s become a “desk jockey” in the Rangers’ Houston office while fending off suspicions from a district attorney who thinks Darren hasn’t been totally upfront with him about a Brotherhood member’s death. (He hasn’t.) And his not-so-loving mother is holding on to evidence that could either save or crucify him with the district attorney. So maybe it’s kind of a relief for Darren to head for the once-thriving coastal town of Jefferson, where the 9-year-old son of another Brotherhood member serving hard time for murdering a black man has gone missing while motorboating on a nearby lake. Then again, there isn’t that much relief given the presence of short-fused white supremacists living not far from descendants of the town’s original black and Native American settlers—one of whom, an elderly black man, is a suspect in the possible murder of the still-missing boy. Meanwhile, Darren’s cultivating his own suspicions of chicanery involving the boy’s wealthy and imperious grandmother, whose own family history is entwined with the town’s antebellum past and who isn’t so fazed with her grandson’s disappearance that she can’t have a lavish dinner party at her mansion. In addition to her gifts for tight pacing and intense lyricism, Locke shows with this installment of her Highway 59 series a facility for unraveling the tangled strands of the Southwest’s cultural legacy and weaving them back together with the volatile racial politics and traumatic economic stresses of the present day. With her confident narrative hands on the wheel, this novel manages to evoke a portrait of Trump-era America—which, as someone observes of a pivotal character in the story, resembles “a toy ball tottering on a wire fence” that “could fall either way.”

Locke’s advancement here is so bracing that you can’t wait to discover what happens next along her East Texas highway.

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-36340-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Mulholland Books/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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