The usual mix of humor, detection, and flamboyant personalities adds sparkle to an otherwise mundane mystery.


A new sheriff makes her mark with some decidedly unorthodox crime-fighting techniques.

Somehow Vivian Borne, antiques dealer, thespian, amateur detective, and all-around diva, has been elected sheriff of Serenity County on the banks of the Mississippi River. Her Prozac-popping daughter, Brandy Borne, and Brandy’s diabetic Shih Tzu, Sushi, have long been her partners in detective work as well as antiquing (Antiques Ravin’, 2019, etc.). When Brandy and Vivian visit James Sutter, owner of the Wentworth Mansion, which is being slowly restored to its former glory, a short tour reveals many valuable antiques, including a Tiffany lava vase. Oddly, though Jimmy owns the house, the Wentworth family still owns the furniture. When Vivian rushes into the house that night to save Jimmy—and the vase—from a fire, she finds that the Tiffany vase is gone. Brandy’s boyfriend, police chief Tony Cassato, suggests that Vivian stay out of his investigation, but soon she’s holding court in the hospital, insisting that she’s ready for the following night, when tryouts begin for the play she’s directing. Releasing herself from the hospital, she goes directly to the coroner just in time to save the already badly burned body that everyone assumes is Jimmy from cremation so that an autopsy can be performed. Her appearance makes her unpopular with both the coroner and Jimmy’s stepson, Gavin Sutter. Vivian’s hunch pays off when the autopsy indicates that the man was murdered by a blunt instrument. Insurance agent Cliff Reed meets with Sutter and Benjamin Wentworth, heir to the collection, who are shocked to learn that the insurance on the house has lapsed and some of the antiques may be missing. Something odd is going on that may be a motive for murder. Vivian, busy illegally rewriting the play as a musical, is flabbergasted when Sushi digs up a body, readily identifiable as that of Jimmy Sutter, not far from the playhouse garage and the trailer of missing janitor Leon Jones. Is the unidentified body that of Jones? And what could be his involvement with the Wentworth mansion?

The usual mix of humor, detection, and flamboyant personalities adds sparkle to an otherwise mundane mystery.

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4967-1143-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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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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One protest from an outraged innocent says it all: “This is America. This is Wyoming.”

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Once again, Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett gets mixed up in a killing whose principal suspect is his old friend Nate Romanowski, whose attempts to live off the grid keep breaking down in a series of felony charges.

If Judge Hewitt hadn’t bent over to pick up a spoon that had fallen from his dinner table, the sniper set up nearly a mile from his house in the gated community of the Eagle Mountain Club would have ended his life. As it was, the victim was Sue Hewitt, leaving the judge alive and free to rail and threaten anyone he suspected of the shooting. Incoming Twelve Sleep County Sheriff Brendan Kapelow’s interest in using the case to promote his political ambitions and the judge’s inability to see further than his nose make them the perfect targets for a frame-up of Nate, who just wants to be left alone in the middle of nowhere to train his falcons and help his bride, Liv Brannon, raise their baby, Kestrel. Nor are the sniper, the sheriff, and the judge Nate’s only enemies. Orlando Panfile has been sent to Wyoming by the Sinaloan drug cartel to avenge the deaths of the four assassins whose careers Nate and Joe ended last time out (Wolf Pack, 2019). So it’s up to Joe, with some timely data from his librarian wife, Marybeth, to hire a lawyer for Nate, make sure he doesn’t bust out of jail before his trial, identify the real sniper, who continues to take an active role in the proceedings, and somehow protect him from a killer who regards Nate’s arrest as an unwelcome complication. That’s quite a tall order for someone who can’t shoot straight, who keeps wrecking his state-issued vehicles, and whose appalling mother-in-law, Missy Vankeuren Hand, has returned from her latest European jaunt to suck up all the oxygen in Twelve Sleep County to hustle some illegal drugs for her cancer-stricken sixth husband. But fans of this outstanding series will know better than to place their money against Joe.

One protest from an outraged innocent says it all: “This is America. This is Wyoming.”

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53823-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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