Crider’s sadly final entry provides a twisty mystery and plenty of the gentle humor and quirky characters fans have come to...

THAT OLD SCOUNDREL DEATH

Dan Rhodes’ last case.

The sheriff of Blacklin County, Texas, has nothing against state-of-the-art forensics, but he’s found that just talking to people often gets results. Stopping to help two cars pulled over by the side of the road, he's surprised to find himself facing a pistol held by local bad boy Kenny Lambert, who’s run another man off the road while high on meth. Disarming Kenny, Dan talks to the other man, who identifies himself as Cal Stinson, a Clearview resident heading to Thurston to look at the old school building that’s the center of a major controversy among local families. Dan’s next call finds him driving to Thurston, where Wanda Wilkins has reported a dead body in the old school. The dead man told Wanda his name was Bruce Wayne, but Dan recognizes him as Cal Stinson. Meanwhile, annoyed by a gossip blog, the mayor of Clearview hires Dan’s friend Seepy Benton, a college teacher and part-time detective whose computer skills have often helped Dan out (Dead to Begin With, 2017, etc.), to identify the blogger. Seepy suspects that it's Roger Prentiss, but Prentiss reveals that he's been working with his former college roommate, Lawrence Gates, who's gone missing—and sometimes uses aliases. Lawrence seems to have been obsessed by the Thurston schoolhouse, and it turns out that he's the dead man. Wanda tells Dan that three wealthy families are involved in the school controversy: those of Charlie Reese and the Falkners, who want the school torn down, and the Hunleys, a father and son known for their heroism in several wars, who want to save it. Dan has the feeling Kenny Lambert knows something, but by now he and his friend are hiding from two other troublemakers who have it in for them. Dan soon has more problems on his hands, but he quietly pursues several leads until he has it all figured out.

Crider’s sadly final entry provides a twisty mystery and plenty of the gentle humor and quirky characters fans have come to love.

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-16562-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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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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A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be...

BADLANDS

Box takes another break from his highly successful Joe Pickett series (Stone Cold, 2014, etc.) for a stand-alone about a police detective, a developmentally delayed boy, and a package everyone in North Dakota wants to grab.

Cassandra Dewell can’t leave Montana’s Lewis and Clark County fast enough for her new job as chief investigator for Jon Kirkbride, sheriff of Bakken County. She leaves behind no memories worth keeping: her husband is dead, her boss has made no bones about disliking her, and she’s looking forward to new responsibilities and the higher salary underwritten by North Dakota’s sudden oil boom. But Bakken County has its own issues. For one thing, it’s cold—a whole lot colder than the coldest weather Cassie’s ever imagined. For another, the job she turns out to have been hired for—leading an investigation her new boss doesn’t feel he can entrust to his own force—makes her queasy. The biggest problem, though, is one she doesn’t know about until it slaps her in the face. A fatal car accident that was anything but accidental has jarred loose a stash of methamphetamines and cash that’s become the center of a battle between the Sons of Freedom, Bakken County’s traditional drug sellers, and MS-13, the Salvadorian upstarts who are muscling in on their territory. It’s a setup that leaves scant room for law enforcement officers or for Kyle Westergaard, the 12-year-old paperboy damaged since birth by fetal alcohol syndrome, who’s walked away from the wreck with a prize all too many people would kill for.

A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be welcome to return and tie up the gaping loose end Box leaves. The unrelenting cold makes this the perfect beach read.

Pub Date: July 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-58321-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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