A grand mystery that effectively introduces its series character.

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GIRL JACKED

A DETECTIVE JACK STRATTON MYSTERY-THRILLER NOVEL

The first installment of Greyson’s (And Then She Was Gone, 2016, etc.) Detective Jack Stratton series features its protagonist in his pre-detective days, as a cop searching for his missing foster sister.

Officer Jack Stratton of the Fairfield Police hardly bats an eye when he comes home to find his on-again, off-again girlfriend Gina angrily leaving his apartment, as it’s a relatively common occurrence. But he’s definitely surprised to see another young woman there who seems very familiar. She goes by the nickname “Replacement”—Jack doesn’t immediately recall her real name—and she’d lived with his foster family well after he’d moved out. He hasn’t seen that family in years, as he blames himself for his foster brother Chandler’s death when they were both serving in Iraq. But Replacement has sought out Jack at the behest of their foster mom, whom they call Aunt Haddie; she wants Jack’s help in finding Michelle, Chandler’s biological sister, who inexplicably vanished a couple of weeks before. Police haven’t taken Michelle’s disappearance seriously, as it seems as if Michelle simply transferred to another college without telling her family. Jack and Replacement look into it, speaking to Michelle’s roommate and her colleagues at the psychology center, where she works part-time as a condition of her scholarship. But when they locate Michelle’s damaged car in an auto yard, things start to get suspicious. The investigation soon leads into dangerous territory as Jack and Replacement link Michelle’s disappearance to other missing people and a few dubious individuals, including drug dealers. The two sleuths are undoubtedly putting someone on edge, as both ultimately become targets. Although he’s still just a uniform cop, Jack displays the traits of a seasoned detective; for example, the sheriff had previously booted him to 90 days of late-night traffic detail for sticking his nose in someone else’s case. Jack’s investigation unfolds organically as he goes to wherever the latest piece of evidence takes him (such as a witness who saw kids around Michelle’s car). His interrogations range from breezy conversations with people he knows to occasional threats toward strangers. Greyson’s depictions of the interactions between Jack and Replacement are also worthwhile; although her myriad complaints are often trivial, they’re generally amusing, as when she shows her obvious distaste for Jack’s ringtone. There are also some quite profound moments, as when Replacement expresses anger at Jack for abandoning his family, while Jack still feels the effects of his birth mother leaving him when he was only 7. Replacement also proves to be much more than a sidekick; indeed, her hacking skills are such a benefit that it’s conceivable that she could have worked the case alone. The mostly straightforward prose is at its best when its tone is tongue-in-cheek, as when Jack’s Chevy Impala is described as having “way too many miles on it. Jack and the car were twins in that regard, but the Impala seemed to be running better than him right now.”

A grand mystery that effectively introduces its series character.

Pub Date: July 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4927-0787-5

Page Count: 262

Publisher: Greyson Media, LLC

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2017

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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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