The busy, overstuffed mystery, fueled by drugs, illegal immigration, and endless domestic feuding, never comes close to...

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PRISONERS OF HOPE

Aid worker Amanda Doucette continues a trek across Canada (The Trickster’s Lullaby, 2017, etc.) that’s supposed to be therapeutic but turns into a crime-riddled exploration of the area around Ontario’s magnificent Georgian Bay.

Before she can launch the Georgian Getaway, the third in the Fun for Families events she’s organizing in the hope of doing better herself by doing something good for abused local families, Amanda needs to scope out the area with the help of veteran local guide George Gifford, whom she’s engaged to take her and Kaylee, her faithful dog, on a preliminary kayak tour. Her first hint that something’s gone wrong is the appearance of Ronny Gifford in place of his ailing father. Her second is their discovery of a young woman whose boat has sunk near a remote island. Her third is Ronny’s abrupt departure with the woman they’ve just rescued, leaving Amanda and Kaylee stranded on the island themselves. Their rescue ends the strongest and most characteristic part of the story and prepares for its central mystery: the question of how neurologist Benson Humphries, whom Amanda met briefly while she was waiting in vain for George Gifford, met his death and who might have helped him meet it. Ben Humphries was a complicated man who married into an even more complicated family. His wife, Janine, and her sister, Candace, are daughters and heirs of the late Duncan Saint Clair, whose wealth put Ben’s own earnings to shame. The sisters, legendary wild children, seem to have no higher purpose than battling their shared Filipino nanny and their long-suffering cook, their neighbors, Janine’s teenage daughter, and each other. But the gale-force recriminations have barely started when Amanda and Chris Tymko, her favorite Mountie, discover a further complication on the shore of a magical inland lake: the inadequately buried body of Ronny Gifford.

The busy, overstuffed mystery, fueled by drugs, illegal immigration, and endless domestic feuding, never comes close to equaling the elemental power of the resilient heroine’s opening adventure.

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-45973-764-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Dundurn

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

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SHAKESPEARE FOR SQUIRRELS

Manic parodist Moore, fresh off a season in 1947 San Francisco (Noir, 2018), returns with a rare gift for Shakespeare fans who think A Midsummer Night’s Dream would be perfect if only it were a little more madcap.

Cast adrift by pirates together with his apprentice, halfwit giant Drool, and Jeff, his barely less intelligent monkey, Pocket of Dog Snogging upon Ouze, jester to the late King Lear, washes ashore in Shakespeare’s Athens, where Cobweb, a squirrel by day and fairy by night, takes him under her wing and other parts. Soon after he encounters Robin Goodfellow (the Puck), jester to shadow king Oberon, and Nick Bottom and the other clueless mechanicals rehearsing Pyramus and Thisby in a nearby forest before they present it in celebration of the wedding of Theseus, Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta, the captive Amazon queen who’s captured his heart, Pocket (The Serpent of Venice, 2014, etc.) finds Robin fatally shot by an arrow. Suspected briefly of the murder himself, he’s commissioned, first by Hippolyta, then by the unwitting Theseus, to identify the Puck’s killer. Oh, and Egeus, the Duke’s steward, wants him to find and execute Lysander, who’s run off with Egeus’ daughter, Hermia, instead of marrying Helena, who’s in love with Demetrius. As English majors can attest, a remarkable amount of this madness can already be found in Shakespeare’s play. Moore’s contribution is to amp up the couplings, bawdy language, violence, and metatextual analogies between the royals, the fairies, the mechanicals, his own interloping hero, and any number of other plays by the Bard.

A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-243402-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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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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