A taut, suspenseful thriller; a third outing for the agent and his team would surely be welcome.


A special division of the FBI scours the Massachusetts area for an abductor of infants in this sequel.

FBI Special Agent Jeff Pine of the Boston branch has made little headway with the kidnapping of 10-week-old Portia Stiles. Following a second infant abduction with the same M.O., Special Agent Jackson Byrne and the Child Abduction and Serial Murder Investigative Resource Center are on the case. The CASMIRC team gathers the few available clues: An individual had tasered the mothers, who subsequently supplied scant details other than hearing a voice calling out, “Hey.” Jack gets some insight into the investigation from the currently incarcerated Playground Predator, a serial killer who is the subject of Jack’s book in progress and who had kidnapped the fed’s wife and son. The murderer’s upcoming trial is rattling the families of his victims, who want to see justice served, even if they have to mete it out themselves. CASMIRC’s case, meanwhile, is shaken by a third abduction, one that ends with the baby’s mother dead rather than tasered. A modified M.O. could signify the perp’s escalation or a copycat, either scenario giving the feds further incentive to stop the kidnapper/killer. Miller’s (A Bustle in the Hedgerow, 2013) story is loaded with characters; many are returnees from his preceding novel but with ample context for new readers. Characterizations are robust, in line with the sequel’s overall sense of simmering violence. The stepfather of a Playground Predator victim, for example, sits in his study with the “earthy fragrance of oak” before removing a .38 pistol from his desk drawer. The narrative likewise implies much of the brutality: Not every abduction/tasering is shown, and even a physical confrontation near the end is not drawn out. A couple of plot turns are predictable, but Miller knows how to sustain the tension until the next round of surprises—with some twists involving all those characters’ unresolved issues regarding the Playground Predator.

A taut, suspenseful thriller; a third outing for the agent and his team would surely be welcome.

Pub Date: June 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5404-7091-1

Page Count: 310

Publisher: Krac Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 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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Greed, love, and extrasensory abilities combine in two middling mysteries.


Coulter’s treasured FBI agents take on two cases marked by danger and personal involvement.

Dillon Savitch and his wife, Lacey Sherlock, have special abilities that have served them well in law enforcement (Paradox, 2018, etc.). But that doesn't prevent Sherlock’s car from hitting a running man after having been struck by a speeding SUV that runs a red light. The runner, though clearly injured, continues on his way and disappears. Not so the SUV driver, a security engineer for the Bexholt Group, which has ties to government agencies. Sherlock’s own concussion causes memory loss so severe that she doesn’t recognize Savitch or remember their son, Sean. The whole incident seems more suspicious when a blood test from the splatter of the man Sherlock hit reveals that he’s Justice Cummings, an analyst for the CIA. The agency’s refusal to cooperate makes Savitch certain that Bexholt is involved in a deep-laid plot. Meanwhile, Special Agent Griffin Hammersmith is visiting friends who run a cafe in the touristy Virginia town of Gaffers Ridge. Hammersmith, who has psychic abilities, is taken aback when he hears in his mind a woman’s cry for help. Reporter Carson DeSilva, who came to the area to interview a Nobel Prize winner, also has psychic abilities, and she overhears the thoughts of Rafer Bodine, a young man who has apparently kidnapped and possibly murdered three teenage girls. Unluckily, she blurts out her thoughts, and she’s snatched and tied up in a cellar by Bodine. Bodine may be a killer, but he’s also the nephew of the sheriff and the son of the local bigwig. So the sheriff arrests Hammersmith and refuses to accept his FBI credentials. Bodine's mother has psychic powers strong enough to kill, but she meets her match in Hammersmith, DeSilva, Savitch, and Sherlock.

Greed, love, and extrasensory abilities combine in two middling mysteries.

Pub Date: July 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-9365-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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