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BREAKING POINT

Its basis in a real-life conflict makes Joe’s 13th case one of his most tendentious, but it’s Box who makes it one of his...

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Wyoming Fish and Game Warden Joe Pickett, who attracts trouble the way carcasses attract maggots (Force of Nature, 2012, etc.), gets in the line of fire between an old friend and the Feds.

When two EPA agents, sent all the way from Denver to take contractor Butch Roberson into custody. are shot to death, Butch himself is the obvious suspect. But Joe, who saw Butch only hours before he disappeared, can’t help wondering why the EPA was so interested in Butch, whose attempt to build a new house for his family in Aspen Highlands blew up in his face, and why the new, race-baiting EPA regional director Juan Julio Batista has taken such a personal interest in the case. Joe has no time for any speculations, though, before he’s pressed into service to lead an ill-equipped EPA party searching for Butch up the mountain where he was last seen. Little does Joe know that he’s not the only one on the hunt. His old nemesis, ex-Sheriff Kyle McLanahan, has heard the rumor of a big reward for bringing in Butch and has gotten Dave Farkus, a clueless employee Butch fired, to lead him and Jimmy Sollis, the no-account brother of slain deputy Trent Sollis, to Butch first. Box doles out complications and misfortunes with masterly control; each time you’re convinced things can’t get any worse for Butch or Joe, they do, usually in unexpected ways. And every twist tightens the analogy between the shiftless vigilantes after Butch and the Feds determined to capture or kill him, two parties that are not only equally villainous, but villainous in exactly the same way.

Its basis in a real-life conflict makes Joe’s 13th case one of his most tendentious, but it’s Box who makes it one of his most exciting.

Pub Date: March 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-399-16075-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

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. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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PRETTY GIRLS

Slaughter (Cop Town, 2014, etc.) is so uncompromising in following her blood trails to the darkest places imaginable that...

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Twenty-four years after a traumatic disappearance tore a Georgia family apart, Slaughter’s scorching stand-alone picks them up and shreds them all over again.

The Carrolls have never been the same since 19-year-old Julia vanished. After years of fruitlessly pestering the police, her veterinarian father, Sam, killed himself; her librarian mother, Helen, still keeps the girl's bedroom untouched, just in case. Julia’s sisters have been equally scarred. Lydia Delgado has sold herself for drugs countless times, though she’s been clean for years now; Claire Scott has just been paroled after knee-capping her tennis partner for a thoughtless remark. The evening that Claire’s ankle bracelet comes off, her architect husband, Paul, is callously murdered before her eyes and, without a moment's letup, she stumbles on a mountainous cache of snuff porn. Paul’s business partner, Adam Quinn, demands information from Claire and threatens her with dire consequences if she doesn’t deliver. The Dunwoody police prove as ineffectual as ever. FBI agent Fred Nolan is more suavely menacing than helpful. So Lydia and Claire, who’ve grown so far apart that they’re virtual strangers, are unwillingly thrown back on each other for help. Once she’s plunged you into this maelstrom, Slaughter shreds your own nerves along with those of the sisters, not simply by a parade of gruesome revelations—though she supplies them in abundance—but by peeling back layer after layer from beloved family members Claire and Lydia thought they knew. The results are harrowing.

Slaughter (Cop Town, 2014, etc.) is so uncompromising in following her blood trails to the darkest places imaginable that she makes most of her high-wire competition look pallid, formulaic, or just plain fake.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-242905-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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