The moral overcomes the mystery in this sobering cautionary tale.

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THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT

A hard-partying flight attendant runs afoul of Russian conspirators.

Cassandra Bowden, like her namesake, the prophetess who is never believed, has problems. A flight attendant since college, Cassie, now nearing 40, has a penchant for drinking to the blackout point and sleeping with strange men. On a flight to Dubai, while serving in first class, she flirts with hedge fund manager Alex Sokoloff, an American with Russian roots and oligarchic connections. She repairs to his hotel room, and during the drunken bacchanal that follows, Miranda, apparently a business acquaintance of Alex’s, visits with more vodka. The next morning Cassie wakes up next to Alex, who lies dead, his throat cut. She has blacked out much of the night, so although she’d grown rather fond of him, how can she be sure she didn’t kill him? Rushing back for the return flight, she decides not to disclose what happened, at least not until she's back home in New York City, where the justice system is arguably less draconian than in Dubai. At JFK, the FBI interviews the deplaning crew, and Cassie plays dumb. Unfortunately, her walk of shame through the hotel lobby was captured on security cam. Sporadically intercut with Cassie’s point of view is that of Elena, a Russian assassin for hire, who had presented herself as Miranda in Alex’s hotel room. After being thwarted by Cassie’s presence from executing Alex then, she returned to finish the job but decided not to make collateral damage of his passed-out bedmate, a bad call she must rectify per her sinister handler, Viktor. In the novel’s flabby midsection, Cassie continues to alternately binge-drink and regret the consequences as her lawyer, her union, and even the FBI struggle to protect her from herself. Although Bohjalian (The Sleepwalker, 2017, etc.) strives to render Cassie sympathetic, at times he can’t resist taking a judgmental stance toward her. As Cassie’s addiction becomes the primary focus, the intricate plotting required of an international thriller lags.

The moral overcomes the mystery in this sobering cautionary tale.

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-385-54241-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 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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