Average for this venerable series, with few surprises but a nice sense of gradually deepening evil.



Joe Gunther, of the Vermont Bureau of Investigation, celebrates his 30th outing by handing off detective honors to a pair of women who don’t even work for him.

Nothing, it seems, could be more routine than the murder of Lyall Johnson, a nothingburger drug dealer apparently stabbed to death by his sometime buddy Brandon Leggatt in the middle of a deal gone bad. Leggatt tells Joe he didn’t kill Johnson, but then he would, wouldn’t he? Although the police miss out entirely on a second murder when someone dispatches elderly Homer Nelson so expertly that the body has been cremated before anybody thinks to question the verdict of natural death, they’re all over the shooting of Alex Robin Hale, a resourceful, ego-driven thief whose body is found in the Connecticut River. But not as all over it as private eye Sally Kravitz, who finds herself drawn to Hale by her father, who’s spent years breaking into people’s houses not to steal anything but to study their lifestyles, and Rachel Reiling, a photographer-turned-reporter at the Brattleboro Reformer whose one meeting with Hale, who’d offered to collaborate with her on a feature story on the promises and limitations of online security, turned from intriguing to sinister when he was killed shortly afterward. Eventually all these trails lead to Thorndike Academy, a tony prep school whose growing pains, already multiplied by rifts among the board members over wealthy Jonathan Marotti’s offer to spring for a new $15 million building, turn out to be only the most visible symptoms of problems that run much deeper. After spinning his wheels while Sally and Rachel dig up the dirt, Joe gets to conduct a climactic interrogation that reveals Thorndike as a cesspool just as noxious as corporate grocer GreenField in Joe’s most recent case (Bury the Lead, 2018, etc.).

Average for this venerable series, with few surprises but a nice sense of gradually deepening evil.

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-11330-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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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. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Creepy, violent, and propulsive; a standout gothic mystery.


Lady detective Bridie Devine searches for a missing child and finds much more than she bargained for.

Bridie Devine is no stranger to the seedy underworld of Victorian London. An accomplished detective with medical training, she sometimes helps the police by examining bodies to determine the cause of death. Bridie recently failed to find a lost child, and when she’s approached about another missing child, the daughter of Sir Edmund Berwick, she isn’t enthusiastic about taking on the case. But Christabel Berwick is no ordinary child. Sir Edmund has hidden Christabel away her whole life and wants Bridie to believe this is an ordinary kidnapping. Bridie does a little digging and learns that Christabel isn’t his daughter so much as his prized specimen. Sir Edmund believes Christabel is a “merrow,” a darker and less romanticized version of a mermaid. Bridie is skeptical, but there are reports of Christabel’s sharp teeth, color-changing eyes, and ability to drown people on dry land. Given that Bridie’s new companion is a ghost who refuses to tell her why he’s haunting her, Bridie might want to open her mind a bit. There’s a lot going on in this singular novel, and none of it pretty. Bridie’s London is soaked with mud and blood, and her past is nightmarish at best. Kidd (Mr. Flood’s Last Resort, 2018, etc.) is an expert at setting a supernatural mood perfect for ghosts and merrows, but her human villains make them seem mundane by comparison. With so much detail and so many clever, Dickensian characters, readers might petition Kidd to give Bridie her own series.

Creepy, violent, and propulsive; a standout gothic mystery.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-2128-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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