A sophisticated, elegantly written, intensely powerful mystery, the best of an excellent series.

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A STEP SO GRAVE

An upper-crust detective tackles a case that deeply affects her own family.

It's February 1935, and Dandy Gilver (Dandy Gilver and a Spot of Toil and Trouble, 2017, etc.), her husband, Hugh, and their two sons, Donald and Teddy, have come to the remote Scottish estate of Applecross to meet the family of Donald’s intended, Mallory Dunnoch. Mallory’s mother, Lavinia, Lady Dunnoch, Viscountess Ross, is known as Lady Love. And it does indeed seem that she’s loved by all, including Donald, who clearly has a crush on her. At 30, Mallory, Lavinia’s elder daughter, is older than Donald, but Dandy comes to admire her as she gets to know her better. Lavinia’s husband, Lord Ross, has used a wheelchair ever since he was wounded during the war saving the life of the estate gardener’s son. His nurse and old pal, Dickie Tibball, is the father of Martin, who’s married to the Rosses’ younger daughter, Cherry, a partner just as devoted as Martin to managing the estate. The party assembled for Lavinia’s birthday also includes Dickie’s wife, Biddy, and Capt. David Spencer, another man in Lavinia’s thrall. Despite years of living in Scotland, Dandy’s still taken aback by local mores and frowns on Lavinia’s horticulturally rooted relationship with her gardener, Samuel McReadie, which is fueled by their mutual passion for Applecross’s stunning gardens. Although Dandy pooh-poohs several mysterious portents of danger, she agrees to wear a talisman to ward off evil. When Lavinia announces that she’s divorcing her husband and vanishes, taking her clothes and other personal property, Hugh refuses to countenance Donald's marriage and insists that his family leave the estate. No sooner have they arrived back home, however, than they’re greeted by a police inspector who announces that the unseasonable snow has melted to reveal Lavinia’s corpse in her beloved garden. The inspector is furious when the local police identify a passing tramp as her killer, a conclusion so ludicrous that Dandy and her family, joined by her fellow sleuth Alec Osborne, return to Applecross seeking the truth of a complex case steeped in folklore and family secrets.

A sophisticated, elegantly written, intensely powerful mystery, the best of an excellent series.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-473-68235-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Quercus

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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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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