Superb, winsome female characters headline this breezy thriller.


In this debut mystery, a real estate broker’s life and work are a series of ups, downs, and the occasional corpse.

Realtor Vivianne Murphy earns both a client and a friend when she helps Venice Martino find a new place to live. Venice settles on a log home in Havenville, Washington, just across the street from Vivianne. The two women are soon co-workers after Venice gets her real estate license. There’s a pile of money to be made in this business, even if it’s sometimes dangerous. Vivianne buys and carries a gun and Taser for protection and has a frightening encounter with a potential client—though this allows her to put her Taser to good use. But real estate has its glamorous side, and Vivianne and Venice are thrilled by the chance to broker the sale of a multimillion-dollar home. They plan to meet the prospective buyers at the house only to discover a body there. Do they call the police? Or do they move the corpse so they won’t lose an epic commission? Their ultimate decision has unexpected and hazardous consequences. Addison’s lead female characters are captivating, particularly Vivianne. The author devotes a substantial portion of the lighthearted tale to her. Vivianne fled New York primarily to escape her overbearing mother, with whom she maintains a strained relationship. These familial subplots, including hefty backstories on both of Vivianne’s failed marriages, are wholly absorbing, perhaps more so than the novel’s mystery element. But that’s because the mystery, rather than taking center stage, plays out as another subplot. The narrative is generally high-spirited; finding a body, for example, spawns dark humor but no scares or suspense. Still, the tense final act offers undisputed perils. Addison’s brisk, conversational prose entails periodic sighs, as if Vivianne’s narration constantly reminds her how exasperating her life is.

Superb, winsome female characters headline this breezy thriller.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2020


Page Count: 229

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Dec. 28, 2020

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

This one’s an attention grabber. Get a copy.


Past and present collide on a trail of death in the second in the authors’ Nora Kelly series, begun with Old Bones (2019).

When a local sheriff investigates the illegal activity of relic hunters in an abandoned, middle-of-nowhere New Mexico gold-mining town called High Lonesome, he discovers a mummified corpse and a fabulous cross of gold. The discovery is on federal land, so the FBI gets involved. Special Agent Corrie Swanson would have liked a juicier assignment than checking out some old bones in the high desert, but she has a degree in forensic anthropology, and she’s a rookie. She persuades a reluctant Dr. Nora Kelly, senior curator at the Santa Fe Archaeological Institute, to help puzzle out what happened to the man, as it’s unclear whether a crime has been committed. Forensics determine that the gold is slightly radioactive, and there’s a pack animal skull with a bullet hole. And by the looks of the decades-old corpse, the poor man suffered a horrible death. High Lonesome is on the Jornada del Muerto, or Dead Man’s Journey, the bleak and dismal trail that connected Mexico City and Santa Fe during Spanish colonial rule. The authors are expert plotters and storytellers with smart, engaging characters—Kelly is an experienced pro who thinks Swanson “looked very much the rookie.” Newbie Swanson had barely passed her firearms qualification, and being a lousy shot may bring tragic consequences and a guilty conscience. Luckily, Sheriff Watts has practiced his quick draw since he was a preschooler. Meanwhile, some of those relic hunters are dangerous men searching for an object—not the gold—unknown to Kelly and Swanson. To a descendant of the dead man, “most people would have thought his precious item fit only to line a henhouse with.” Expect nice twists, hairy danger, and good old-fashioned gunplay.

This one’s an attention grabber. Get a copy.

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4727-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?