As usual, Ramsay (Standing Still, 2017, etc.) provides enough creepy characters and weird doings to give her two...

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THE SUFFERING OF STRANGERS

A masterly pair of Glasgow sleuths tackle two cases that become one.

DI Costello is trying to get over the sting of a case in which she was unfairly blamed for the missteps of others. Her former partner, DCI Colin Anderson, is stuck reviewing cold cases. Costello gets called out when a desperate mother whose child never stops crying returns from a quick run into a store to find her car with little Sholto inside stolen. The car is soon found, but Sholto has been replaced by a boy with Down syndrome. When the woman whose old rape case Anderson was looking into dies, the powers that be ask Anderson to see if he can convince his old college girlfriend Sally Logan, another victim of an unsolved rape, to go on television and appeal for people to speak out about victims of violent and sexual crime. Costello and social worker Deliana Despande, digging into Sholto’s disappearance, learn to their surprise that quite a few babies have recently vanished, leaving their mothers to get on with their lives—all except for Orla Sheridan, whose dead body is found in a lake. The last time Orla was recorded on CCTV was in a narrow alley near the building where Anderson's old friend Sally and her husband, Dr. Andrew Braithwaite, have their businesses. There seems to be nowhere she and a pregnant woman also caught on video could have gone. Anderson renews his friendship with Sally and Andrew while Costello and her team do everything possible to discover what happened to Orla. Old lovers, cold cases, and mistakes that cast long shadows all play a part in cases so complex that solving any one of them leaves a great deal still to be discovered.

As usual, Ramsay (Standing Still, 2017, etc.) provides enough creepy characters and weird doings to give her two protagonists fits and produce one of the strangest procedurals of the year.

Pub Date: March 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7278-8760-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Severn House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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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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