History and mystery combine in a fine, complex tale of love and hate.

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A CONSPIRACY OF WOLVES

A man with a deep sense of justice and a passion for crime-solving must make a series of life-changing decisions.

The year 1374 finds Owen Archer, former captain of the guard (A Vigil of Spies, 2015, etc.), still mourning the death of Archbishop Thoresby as he returns to York with his apothecary wife, Lucie Wilton; their family; and Geoffrey Chaucer, a spy for Prince Edward. Upon the road they meet Bartolf Swann, coroner of Galtres Forest, and Brother Michaelo, who was Thoresby’s secretary. Swann begs them to find the killer of Hoban, the son he claims was savaged by dogs or wolves. Hoban’s own dogs and horse are missing, and when Owen examines his body, he finds that although Hoban was indeed bitten, someone had cut his throat as well. Back in York, Owen is torn between the mayor, the aldermen, and merchants who want him to become captain of the city bailiffs and a more generous offer from Prince Edward, who’s invited him to become a member of his household so that he can keep an eye on the powerful northern families who are enemies of the throne. While Owen ponders his choices, he seeks information from several people and comes to suspect that Alisoun Ffulford, apprentice to Magda Digby, midwife, healer, and wise woman, is holding something back. Soon after a mysterious man with a large dog is spotted in the city, Bartolf Swann is found murdered. Owen becomes convinced that the Swann, Tirwhit, and Braithwaite families are all connected not only by marriage, but by a dangerous secret from the past that may provide the motive for the murders in the present. Real-life historical figures mix with fictional characters in a portrait of a deeply dangerous time that Owen must navigate with care if he’s to solve the murders and settle his own future.

History and mystery combine in a fine, complex tale of love and hate.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78029-115-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Creme de la Crime

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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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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