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A sparkling series launch featuring Hollywood hijinks and a clever sleuth.

An educated British woman’s work at a Tinseltown studio is exhilarating, exasperating, and dangerous.

In a major departure from her 19th-century tales of freed Black man Benjamin January, including House of the Patriarch (2021), Hambly introduces a world of glamour and deceit. After losing her husband to World War I and her family to the Spanish flu, Emma Blackstone has been rescued from a soul-sucking job as a paid companion by her sister-in-law, Kitty Flint, better known as Hollywood starlet Camille de la Rose. Emma keeps Kitty’s household going, cares for three beloved Pekingese, and rewrites scripts for Foremost Productions, whose studio chief is just one of Kitty’s myriad lovers. Before she can join her aunt, who’s written to say that she’s returning to England from India, Emma must help Kitty by solving the murder of Rex Festraw, her not-quite-ex-husband. Rex showed up on set unexpectedly, and before Kitty even gets to meet with the man she married at 15, he’s found dead in her dressing room, shot by her own gun. Asked for an alibi, Kitty claims to have been searching for one of her dogs, but Emma suspects that she was meeting a lover. The studio staff naturally spring into action to protect their star, and the corrupt police quickly release her, but the plot to frame Kitty, with several forged but incriminating death threats found with the body, imperils everyone around her until Emma and her love interest, cameraman Zal Rokatansky, can find the real killer.

A sparkling series launch featuring Hollywood hijinks and a clever sleuth.

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7278-9038-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Severn House

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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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. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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A brutal, gripping look at murder in a self-enclosed community with many secrets to hide.

When two police officers stop for a bit of dalliance, screams from the nearby woods introduce them to a puzzling and horrifying murder.

Chuck Skidmore and Mona Kurtz don’t arrive in time to rescue a man who’s being burned at the stake, a sight that will haunt their dreams. Police Chief Kate Burkholder arrives on the scene with her husband, John Tomasetti, an agent of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, who’ll join her and many other cops in a task force investigating the bizarre murder. Born Amish, Kate ran away from Painters Mill, found her vocation in law enforcement, and eventually came home as the police department’s chief. Over the years, she’s built up some trust with the local Amish community, who generally prefer to keep their problems to themselves. The victim is Milan Swanz, a troubled former schoolmate of Kate’s whom she’s arrested several times. A divorced man with four children, he’d been recently excommunicated by the Amish. Although Milan was far from popular, Kate meets a wall of silence from even her own brother, one of many people who had disputes with the hot-tempered man. Kate’s theory of the crime, based on stories in a book popular with the Amish, is so bizarre that she has trouble believing it herself. When her brother is arrested, she’s removed from the task force but continues to investigate, putting her in the sights of some very determined killers.

A brutal, gripping look at murder in a self-enclosed community with many secrets to hide.

Pub Date: July 9, 2024

ISBN: 9781250781116

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2024

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