Plenty of animal lore and descriptions of Iceland’s unearthly beauty and culture make up for a mystery that, although filled...

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THE PUFFIN OF DEATH

A zookeeper is sent to Iceland to bring home new animals only to find herself involved in yet another murder case.

Theodora “Teddy” Bentley is off to pick up a polar bear cub, a pair of puffins, and two Icelandic foxes for the new Northern Climes exhibit at the Gunn Zoo in California. On the plane over, Teddy sees a fight within a group of birdwatchers from Phoenix, little knowing she'll soon be entangled in their problems. She's staying with zookeeper Bryndis Sigurdsdottir, who picks her up at the airport, and the next day the two take a trip to a seaside village, where they stumble over the body of Simon Parr, whose record-setting lottery winnings financed the all-expenses-paid trip for the members of his birding group. Parr was married to bestselling author Elizabeth St. John, who's also a birder. When Bryndis’ sometimes-boyfriend Ragnar Eriksson is arrested because he had been in a bar fight with Parr, she begs Teddy, who has solved murders before (The Llama of Death, 2013, etc.), to investigate. Teddy gains easy access to the birders when former model Dawn Talley asks her to pretend to be an old friend and prove her husband, Ben, a birder who had some nasty arguments with Parr and has no alibi, is innocent. When Dawn ends up dead in the harbor, Inspector Thorvaald Haraldsson warns Teddy in the strongest terms to keep her pretty nose out of his investigation. But Teddy is not to be deterred and finds that everyone in the group is hiding secrets, many of them criminal, and at least two of the woman had affairs with Parr. Between taking care of Magnus, the adorable orphan bear cub, and the other animals, she manages to find time to snoop—which puts her right in the killer's cross hairs.

Plenty of animal lore and descriptions of Iceland’s unearthly beauty and culture make up for a mystery that, although filled with red herrings, is not hard to solve.

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4642-0414-2

Page Count: 260

Publisher: Poisoned Pen

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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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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Creepy, violent, and propulsive; a standout gothic mystery.

THINGS IN JARS

Lady detective Bridie Devine searches for a missing child and finds much more than she bargained for.

Bridie Devine is no stranger to the seedy underworld of Victorian London. An accomplished detective with medical training, she sometimes helps the police by examining bodies to determine the cause of death. Bridie recently failed to find a lost child, and when she’s approached about another missing child, the daughter of Sir Edmund Berwick, she isn’t enthusiastic about taking on the case. But Christabel Berwick is no ordinary child. Sir Edmund has hidden Christabel away her whole life and wants Bridie to believe this is an ordinary kidnapping. Bridie does a little digging and learns that Christabel isn’t his daughter so much as his prized specimen. Sir Edmund believes Christabel is a “merrow,” a darker and less romanticized version of a mermaid. Bridie is skeptical, but there are reports of Christabel’s sharp teeth, color-changing eyes, and ability to drown people on dry land. Given that Bridie’s new companion is a ghost who refuses to tell her why he’s haunting her, Bridie might want to open her mind a bit. There’s a lot going on in this singular novel, and none of it pretty. Bridie’s London is soaked with mud and blood, and her past is nightmarish at best. Kidd (Mr. Flood’s Last Resort, 2018, etc.) is an expert at setting a supernatural mood perfect for ghosts and merrows, but her human villains make them seem mundane by comparison. With so much detail and so many clever, Dickensian characters, readers might petition Kidd to give Bridie her own series.

Creepy, violent, and propulsive; a standout gothic mystery.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-2128-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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