An aptly crafted, riveting, and often unnerving mystery.


An orthopedic surgery resident becomes embroiled in a murder investigation when patients’ severed limbs begin turning up in this sequel.

Second-year resident Benjamin Oris is the newest addition to Dr. Kent Lock’s surgical team at Philadelphia’s Montgomery Hospital. Ben is the only member who was not a part of a humanitarian mission a month earlier; the others survived a plane crash followed by five days in the Alaskan snow. Although Ben missed that grueling experience, he does find a severed leg while hiking with his son’s mother, Sophia Diaz. Ben recognizes its tattoo as belonging to a recent patient who died shortly after receiving an orthopedic implant. But a second recovered limb (with an implant) is from a missing Montgomery Hospital patient and, based on the evidence, she’s likely a murder victim. Detectives fixate on Ben, as he was involved in a voodoo-related case years ago. But Centers for Disease Control and Prevention psychiatrist Derek Epps, who occasionally assists police, has a wild theory. The killer may believe he’s a monster, literally, and bite marks on the limbs seemingly support Derek’s conjecture. As further homicide victims had undergone surgery via Lock’s team, Ben is worried about Sophia’s imminent knee replacement, which could put her in danger of facing a psychotic killer whose savage murders are only escalating. Rubin skillfully creates indelible characters, some of whom appeared in the author’s preceding novel, The Bone Curse (2018), including Ben. In this gripping sequel, Ben has a platonic relationship with ex-lover Sophia, but the two share custody of their son and unmistakably care for each other. Other players are ambiguous, which is fitting, as Derek’s theory turns the plane crash survivors into suspects (trauma can induce psychosis, and the murderer knows about the implants). The author’s prose is sleek and organic, regarding both descriptions and punchy dialogue. But the most striking passages are from the killer’s periodic narrative perspective—disturbing thoughts from a clearly tortured mind. An open-ended conclusion, with a sprinkle of the supernatural, sets the stage for a third installment.

An aptly crafted, riveting, and often unnerving mystery. (author’s note, acknowledgements, author bio)

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: 305

Publisher: Indigo Dot Press

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2020

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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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Generations may succeed generations, but Sandford’s patented investigation/action formula hasn’t aged a whit. Bring it on.


A domestic-terrorist plot gives the adopted daughter of storied U.S. Marshal Lucas Davenport her moment to shine.

Veteran oilman Vermilion Wright knows that losing a few thousand gallons of crude is no more than an accounting error to his company but could mean serious money to whomever’s found a way to siphon it off from wells in Texas’ Permian Basin. So he asks Sen. Christopher Colles, Chair of Homeland Security and Government Affairs, to look into it, and Colles persuades 24-year-old Letty Davenport, who’s just quit his employ, to return and partner with Department of Homeland Security agent John Kaiser to track down the thieves. The plot that right-winger Jane Jael Hawkes and her confederates, most of them service veterans with disgruntled attitudes and excellent military skills, have hatched is more dire than anything Wright could have imagined. They plan to use the proceeds from the oil thefts to purchase some black-market C4 essential to a major act of terrorism that will simultaneously express their alarm about the country’s hospitality to illegal immigrants and put the Jael-Birds on the map for good. But they haven’t reckoned with Letty, another kid born on the wrong side of the tracks who can outshoot the men she’s paired with and outthink the vigilantes she finds herself facing—and who, along with her adoptive father, makes a memorable pair of “pragmatists. Really harsh pragmatists” willing to do whatever needs doing without batting an eye or losing a night’s sleep afterward.

Generations may succeed generations, but Sandford’s patented investigation/action formula hasn’t aged a whit. Bring it on.

Pub Date: April 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-32868-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2022

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