In this new series kickoff, Cleverly (Diana’s Altar, 2017, etc.) provides the requisite period detail, adds a cunning...


A series of murders roils suffragists in Cambridge, England.

DI John Redfyre, a member of an upper-crust family, survived the horrors of World War I to become a valued police officer. Having grown up nearby and a Cambridge University graduate himself, he’s especially sensitive to the gown side of town-and-gown problems. When his eccentric Aunt Hetty offers him tickets to a Christmas concert at St. Barnabas College, he agrees to go even though he’ll be sitting with Eadwig Stretton, the youngest of a wild family whose members tormented him as a child. The concert is more memorable than he could have anticipated. One of the musicians is beguiling female trumpeter Juno Proudfoot, a first at Cambridge, where women still cannot obtain degrees. And Eadwig is an attractive woman instead of a grown-up version of Redfyre’s male tormentors. During the interval, as they trade barbs and family history, he learns that her oldest brother, Wulfie, fought for the Germans in the war. As she exits the concert, Juno is almost killed in a fall down the stairs in what turns out to be the first in a series of attacks on women. The nasty poison pen letters Eadwig says Juno’s received are the harbinger of an attack on another upper-class woman who’s strangled and thrown in the river. The victim, Louise Lawrence, is another friend of Eadwig’s who, after having left her unconventional school, took a job with one of her father’s friends for a suspiciously high salary. At length Redfyre realizes that the work Eadwig, Louise, his aunt Hetty, and a shadowy group of women are doing on behalf of universal suffrage has enraged a misogynist with deadly intent, leading Redfyre to question his own feelings on the subject.

In this new series kickoff, Cleverly (Diana’s Altar, 2017, etc.) provides the requisite period detail, adds a cunning mystery, and acknowledges that the fight for equality continues to this day.

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-61695-876-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Soho Crime

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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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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The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as...

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An unlikely love story set amid the horrors of a Nazi death camp.

Based on real people and events, this debut novel follows Lale Sokolov, a young Slovakian Jew sent to Auschwitz in 1942. There, he assumes the heinous task of tattooing incoming Jewish prisoners with the dehumanizing numbers their SS captors use to identify them. When the Tätowierer, as he is called, meets fellow prisoner Gita Furman, 17, he is immediately smitten. Eventually, the attraction becomes mutual. Lale proves himself an operator, at once cagey and courageous: As the Tätowierer, he is granted special privileges and manages to smuggle food to starving prisoners. Through female prisoners who catalog the belongings confiscated from fellow inmates, Lale gains access to jewels, which he trades to a pair of local villagers for chocolate, medicine, and other items. Meanwhile, despite overwhelming odds, Lale and Gita are able to meet privately from time to time and become lovers. In 1944, just ahead of the arrival of Russian troops, Lale and Gita separately leave the concentration camp and experience harrowingly close calls. Suffice it to say they both survive. To her credit, the author doesn’t flinch from describing the depravity of the SS in Auschwitz and the unimaginable suffering of their victims—no gauzy evasions here, as in Boy in the Striped Pajamas. She also manages to raise, if not really explore, some trickier issues—the guilt of those Jews, like the tattooist, who survived by doing the Nazis’ bidding, in a sense betraying their fellow Jews; and the complicity of those non-Jews, like the Slovaks in Lale’s hometown, who failed to come to the aid of their beleaguered countrymen.

The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as nonfiction. Still, this is a powerful, gut-wrenching tale that is hard to shake off.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-279715-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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