Not the best in Dunn’s long-running series (Superfluous Women, 2015, etc.), this one relies on period detail to charm fans...

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THE CORPSE AT THE CRYSTAL PALACE

An inveterate sleuth investigates a case of too many nannies.

Now that her husband, Scotland Yard detective Alec Fletcher, is out of town on a case and his daughter, Belinda, is home from school, Daisy Fletcher is playing host to Ben and Charlie, her cousin’s West Indian adoptees, whom she plans to show the sights of 1928 London. Their visit to the Crystal Palace includes Daisy’s twins, who are cared for by Nanny Gilpin and nursery maid Bertha; Daisy’s friend Sakari; and retired DS Tom Tring and his wife. Belinda and the boys are exploring on their own when they notice Nanny Gilpin following another nanny and decide to trail them. They catch up just in time to rescue Nanny Gilpin, whom they find floating in an ornamental lake. When Daisy goes searching for her missing nanny, she finds instead a dead nanny in a stall in the ladies’ room. Luckily, Tom Tring is on hand to help with the police. Daisy’s still wondering why the body looks familiar when the soaking wet children arrive to announce that Mrs. Gilpin needs help. Indeed she does: She has a head wound and no memory of what happened to her or why she was following the unknown nanny. The dead nanny turns out to be Teddy Devenish, a cousin of Daisy’s friend Lucy, Lady Gerald Bincombe. Unfortunately for the police, the young man about town had a bad reputation, and plenty of people would be glad to see him dead. Although she knows that neither Alec nor the police will be pleased, Daisy, who’s perfectly placed to mine information from her aristocratic friends, dives into the investigation and comes up with the clues that solve the case.

Not the best in Dunn’s long-running series (Superfluous Women, 2015, etc.), this one relies on period detail to charm fans of classic British mysteries.

Pub Date: March 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-04705-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: April 3, 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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