Less mystery than elephantine jockeying for the perks every aristocrat feels due.

THE MYSTERY OF ALBERT E. FINCH

Wedding bells may ring for Lady Amy Lovell and William, Viscount Wethington, but their honeymoon falls prey to an ill-timed murder.

After a decorously paced courtship, the happy couple are ready to tie the knot in September 1891. As Amy ruefully observes, however, “It was a tad hard to accept good wishes when there was a dead body sitting at her wedding breakfast.”  The inconvenient victim is Alice Finch, whose champagne has been fortified with an overdose of belladonna. The obvious suspect is her husband and heir, Amy’s cousin-in-law Albert E. Finch. So convinced are detectives Edwin Marsh and Ralph Carson of the Bath Police Department that Finch has killed his wife that they quickly arrest him. Amy, already incensed that she and William will have to postpone their honeymoon trip to Brighton Beach, is even more outraged when the police release Albert to the custody of William and her, whom they’ve already forbidden to nose around in the case themselves, giving them an even more urgent reason to solve the mystery. Accidental damage to the roof of their own home brings her father, the Marquess of Winchester, and her beloved Aunt Margaret into the newlyweds’ establishment at the same awkward time, and the uneasy community is rattled by the disappearance of Othello, the bird Aunt Margaret has taught to declaim Shakespeare, and the discovery of another body. “I never faint,”  insists Amy after each of her entirely justified fainting spells, and this time she’s no more successful at sleuthing than the officials who warn her off—though she and William do get the privilege of hearing the killer’s confession before anyone else.

Less mystery than elephantine jockeying for the perks every aristocrat feels due.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-64385-802-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crooked Lane

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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A bracing test of the maxim that “the department always comes first. The department always wins.”

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THE DARK HOURS

Meet today’s LAPD, with both good and bad apples reduced to reacting to crimes defensively instead of trying to prevent them, unless of course they’re willing to break the rules.

New Year’s Eve 2020 finds Detective Renée Ballard, survivor of rape and Covid-19, partnered with Detective Lisa Moore, of Hollywood’s Sexual Assault Unit, in search of leads on the Midnight Men, a tag team of rapists who assaulted women on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve without leaving any forensic evidence behind. The pair are called to the scene of a shooting that would have gone to West Bureau Homicide if the unit weren’t already stretched to the limit, a case that should be handed over to West Bureau ASAP. But Ballard gets her teeth into the murder of body shop owner Javier Raffa, who reportedly bought his way out of the gang Las Palmas. The news that Raffa’s been shot by the same weapon that killed rapper Albert Lee 10 years ago sends Ballard once more to Harry Bosch, the poster boy for retirements that drive the LAPD crazy. Both victims had taken on silent partners in order to liquidate their debts, and there’s every indication that the partners were linked. That’s enough for Ballard and Bosch to launch a shadow investigation even as Ballard, abandoned by Moore, who’s flown the coop for the weekend, works feverishly to identify the Midnight Men on her own. As usual in this stellar series, the path to the last act is paved with false leads, interdepartmental squabbles, and personal betrayals, and the structure sometimes sways in the breeze. But no one who follows Ballard and Bosch to the end will be disappointed.

A bracing test of the maxim that “the department always comes first. The department always wins.”

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-48564-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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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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