Three quick, enjoyable reads to get you in a murderous Christmas spirit.



Three familiar sleuths each get a turn in this trio of cozy Christmas mysteries.

First, O’Connor (Murder in Galway, 2019, etc.) dives into Siobhán O’Sullivan’s past. Just graduated from the Garda College and not due to report for duty until the New Year, she’s busy preparing for Christmas when she sees a sign advertising a missing dog and links the disappearance to that of her own family dog and others around town. When the town Santy, Paddy O’Shea, is discovered floating dead in a dunk tank he’s filled with hot chocolate, all the missing dogs are also found, waiting in vain to be part of his extravagant show. Now Siobhán must help catch Santy's killer. Next up, Day (Strangled Eggs and Ham, 2019, etc.) presents South Lick, Indiana, cafe/country store owner Robbie Jordan, whose boyfriend Abe’s father, Howard O’Neill, has secretly acquired Cocoa, a rescued Lab puppy, as a Christmas gift for Abe’s son, Sean. When Howard’s business associate, Jed Greenberg, is found dead on an icy sidewalk, tangled in Cocoa’s leash, it turns out to be murder. Though Jed had plenty of enemies, Howard is a particularly choice suspect because he’d just learned that Jed had cheated him in a business deal. In the final tale, Erickson (Death by Café Mocha, 2019, etc.) features cafe/bookstore owner Krissy Hancock, a locally renowned sleuth who reluctantly accompanies her friend Rita Jablonski to a remote warehouse, where Lewis Coates, whose attention to detail is obsessive, has installed an escape room. Each member of the small group is given their own room whose door code they must determine from cryptic clues. They all manage to escape to a large locked room where they find the corpse of Coates. A prick Krissy finds on his finger and traces to a trick mug strongly suggests that one of the players is also a killer.

Three quick, enjoyable reads to get you in a murderous Christmas spirit.

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4967-2360-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.


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.


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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