LUCKY YOU

As soon as an informative headnote warns that "there is no approved dental use for WD-40," you can relax, knowing that you're in for several blissful hours in the hands of a master farceur whose subject this time is what passes in South Florida for providence. Even though she's confirmed the winning numbers on her Lotto ticket, placid veterinary assistant JoLayne Lucks refuses to give an interview to rolling-stone Register features writer Tom Krome. Hoping to rescue the turtles of Simmons Wood from mobbacked development by buying the parcel out of her half of the $28 million jackpot, she doesn't see any point in telling the world she's rich. Then, suddenly, she isn't, because the holder of the other winning ticket, halfwit white supremacist Bodean Gazzer, decides to double his own payout by heisting her ticket. Bode and his sidekick Chub have their own public-spirited vision for the prize: arming the White Rebel Brotherhood (membership 2 and growing) in preparation for the UN-sponsored invasion of the US via all those unused handicapped-parking spaces. Along with the obligatory romantic complications, Hiaasen provides an alarmingly comical parade of spiritual counterparts to the providential nostrum of the Florida lottery: the weeping fiberglass Madonna, the RoadStain Jesus, the miraculous apostolic turtles who bring nirvana to the features editor sent to retrieve Krome after he takes off with JoLayne in pursuit of the Lotto thieves. Not even Hiaasen (Stormy Weather, 1995, etc.) can sustain this balancing act forever, and eventually it collapses like a house of cards. But for an impossibly long time, the whole wild sideshow seethes and boils with all the grinning vitality of a "Have a Nice Day" poster reimagined by Hieronymous Bosch. Just when you think Hiaasen can't outdo himself, he finds more lunatics who just happen to tap into your deepest fears about America. Makes you wonder.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 1997

ISBN: 0-679-45444-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1997

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more