Finch impressively raises the stakes of this tale between tea settings, and his character development is top-notch.

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THE INHERITANCE

In the 10th installment of this Victorian-era series, a Member of Parliament–turned–private detective gets the chance to solve a 30-year-old mystery that involves his boyhood friend.

Charles Lenox hasn’t seen his Harrow school friend Gerald Leigh in many years, ever since Leigh got happily expelled and set off for a life of travel and, eventually, scientific inquiry. But hearing from Leigh generates an extra sense of excitement when his letter reveals that his return to London is related to his “mysterious benefactor.” Lenox and Leigh started an unusual friendship at school when Leigh explained that his tuition was paid by an anonymous “friend,” whose identity he desperately wanted to figure out. It was Lenox’s first mystery, and it still hasn’t been solved. It becomes clear that this is much more than child’s play when Leigh goes missing from the Collingwood Hotel and Lenox must track him down—and once he does, Leigh reports that attempts have been made on his life. The descriptions of the attackers are at once familiar to Lenox, who recognizes the pair as Anderson and Singh, part of the notorious Farthing gang. Who could possibly order this traveling scientist dead? This is when Leigh reveals that the mysterious benefactor has recently left him a rather large sum, enough to make him rich by any standards—and enough to make people risk killing for it. While in London, Leigh is also persuaded to speak at the Royal Society, which has been encouraging his visit for a long time. To Lenox’s surprise, his old friend has become quite the sensation. But when Leigh’s solicitor Ernest Middleton is found murdered, Lenox is reminded that the target is still very much on Leigh’s back. It’s time he consults his agency partners Lord John Dallington and Polly Buchanon, who have been working a break-in case at Parliament, keeping watch there overnight and, to Lenox’s extreme interest, becoming closer with each passing day. The tension continues to rise as an element of deceit clouds the entire investigation and events take surprisingly sinister and twisting turns.

Finch impressively raises the stakes of this tale between tea settings, and his character development is top-notch.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-250-07042-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: Aug. 23, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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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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Child builds tension to unbearable extremes, then blows it out in sharply choreographed violence, even if his plot has more...

ECHO BURNING

From the Jack Reacher series , Vol. 5

Smashingly suspenseful fifth in Child’s series (Running Blind, 2000, etc.) lands this British author’s rootless, laconic action hero in southwest Texas, where a femme fatale lures him into a family squabble that inevitably turns violent.

In the kind of daylight-noir setting that Jim Thompson loved, ex-military cop Jack Reacher has his thumb out on a lonely west Texas highway when he’s picked up by Carmine Greer, the Mexican-American wife of bad-ol’-boy Sloop Greer. It seems that Sloop, elder son of a white-trash-turned-oil-rich ranching dynasty, is nearing the end of a prison term for tax evasion, and Carmine, whose body Reacher sees is marked with signs of physical abuse, wants Reacher to be her bodyguard—or, failing that, kill the man in such a way that Carmine can still hold on to her terminally cute six-year-old daughter Ellie. Reacher refuses but decides to meet the folks: Rusty, Sloop’s racist, charmless mother, and Bobby, Sloop’s stupid, pugnacious brother. Meanwhile, a trio of paid assassins is littering the Texas roadside with corpses, starting with Sloop’s lawyer, Al Eugene. In a set-piece as good as anything in Elmore Leonard, Bobby sends two ranch-hands to ambush Reacher at an Abilene roadhouse filled with 20 other cowboys spoiling for a fight. Reacher walks away without a scratch, telling Bobby that his hospitalized ranch-hands have “quit.” Child twists his increasingly hokey plot into a pretzel when Sloop is found dead and Carmine confesses to killing him. Reacher just can’t believe that Carmine is guilty and teams up with Alice Aarons, a leggy Jewish lesbian fresh out of law school, who trusts him with her car, her handgun, and her life.

Child builds tension to unbearable extremes, then blows it out in sharply choreographed violence, even if his plot has more holes in it than the shirt Reacher uses for target practice.

Pub Date: July 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-399-14726-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2001

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