Rolling back the clock gives Black the chance to recast her heroine unencumbered by the baggage she’s accumulated over the...

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MURDER ON THE QUAI

Black (Murder on the Champ de Mars, 2015, etc.) looks backward to discover the origins of Aimée Leduc, detective.

In November, 1942, a line runs through the French countryside near Vichy. On one side lies Chambly-sur-Cher, in la zone libre; on the other, Givaray, under control of Maréchal Pétain. When a truck laden with Nazi gold gets mired in mud on the wrong side of the river, four Free French farmers kill four of the soldiers transporting the treasure to Portugal, stealing the loot for themselves. A fifth soldier apparently escapes. Sixty years later, an elderly man from the provinces is killed on his way home from a meal with friends in Paris, his body left under the Pont des Invalides. His daughter, Elise Peltier, asks detective Jean-Claude Leduc, a distant cousin, to find her father’s killer. But Jean-Claude is about to leave for Berlin to meet a man who can help him get Sidonie, his fugitive American wife, out of trouble with Mossad. So his 19-year-old daughter, Aimée, jumps into the breach. Frustrated with medical school and depressed to discover that Florent, her aristo boyfriend, is about to announce his engagement to another woman, Aimée is ready for new adventures. She scoops up the stray puppy her grand-père found by the river, christens him Miles Davis, and goes in search of the mysterious Suzy, who left her name and phone number on a matchbook in Peltier’s pocket from a club called LE GOGO. Along the way, she runs into a dwarf computer genius who fixes her pager. So begins the arc of Aimée’s story: the first corpse, the first clue, the first shattered love affair, the first meeting with René, her eventual partner, and the reader’s first glimpse of Leduc Detectives.

Rolling back the clock gives Black the chance to recast her heroine unencumbered by the baggage she’s accumulated over the course of the series. It’s not clear, though, where this prequel will take the franchise in the long run.

Pub Date: June 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61695-678-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Soho Crime

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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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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