The second in this new series from veteran McPherson (Scot Free, 2018, etc.) is a hilarious romp that’s dead serious when it...



What seems like a Halloween prank is a cover for murder.

After meeting and marrying a wealthy dentist in haste, Scottish clinical psychologist Lexy Campbell has divorced and retreated to the southern California town of Cuento. She lives on a tiny houseboat moored in a slough behind the Last Ditch Motel, which houses her odd but lovable friends. Owner Noleen’s wife, Kathi, is a germaphobe who keeps the place spotless. To accommodate married doctors Roger and Todd, she keeps the bugs down with illegal imported pesticides, since Todd has a severe case of cleptoparasitosis. All seems well until they pull up the beer Lexy’s been cooling in the slough for their Halloween party and a dead body comes with it. Detective Molly “Mike” Rankinson shows up to investigate the bloated corpse, which is wearing an orange wig topped by a tartan tammy. Only Lexy notices the dead man's ring, which has vanished by the time the divers pull the anonymous victim from the water, but it turns into the clue that will identify him. Mike brushes off Lexy when she urges her to read Robert Burns’ poem “Tam O’Shanter,” which seems to predict other odd occurrences, like someone cutting off a horse’s tail. Despite this discouragement, the motley crew can’t ignore the mystery and finally ID the body as an unpopular high school student who left town for 50 years until a recent class reunion. Another member of the class vanished decades ago after their graduation party, and her mother has never given up the search for her. The missing girl’s classmates seem spooked when Lexy and her friends visit to chat them up and fish for clues. The secret’s clearly hidden in the past, though not too deeply for the intrepid amateur sleuths.

The second in this new series from veteran McPherson (Scot Free, 2018, etc.) is a hilarious romp that’s dead serious when it comes to the tricky mystery and an unexpected denouement.

Pub Date: April 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7387-5412-3

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Midnight Ink/Llewellyn

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 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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