Lots of violent action tempered with hints of romance and cultural clashes and a climactic surprise, though much of it comes...


Wendelboe turns from the contemporary American West (Hunting the Five Point Killer, 2017, etc.) to the Depression era to kick off a new series that packs the U.S. Marshal for Wyoming off to Oklahoma in pursuit of a murder suspect.

Even though there were plenty of witnesses, it’s still not entirely clear how Shoshone rancher Selly Antelope got himself shot at a barn dance outside Ethete. What is clear is that Southern Arapaho Amos Iron Horse, the presumptive shooter, has gone missing and that his Northern Arapaho wife, Catherine, tells Marshal Nelson Lane with grim satisfaction that Selly—who’d followed up his threat to shoot any more of Amos’ cattle who broke through a frequently broken wire fence onto Selly’s land—“got just what he deserved.” Leaving behind the bad blood simmering between the Shoshone and the Arapaho, Nelson follows Amos’ trail to El Reno, Oklahoma, where he’s reportedly gone with his mysterious friend Whiskers and where felony murder is much more the order of the day. Canadian County Sheriff Tobias Stauffer, who fought for Germany during World War I, makes it clear that assisting Nelson is low on his priority list and announces that he can spare only one deputy to help him beard the locals: Maris Red Hat, whose deflowering by Amos years ago was only one step on the long road to her addiction to men and drink—the latter of which, as Nelson helpfully points out, is not only trashy but illegal under Prohibition. Stauffer is indifferent when Nelson is beaten and kicked and threatened with another dose if he sticks around; the only time he rouses himself to uphold the law is to arrest Nelson for the murder of one of Stauffer’s highly questionable underlings.

Lots of violent action tempered with hints of romance and cultural clashes and a climactic surprise, though much of it comes across as serviceable exposition in search of a strong throughline.

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4328-3728-0

Page Count: 251

Publisher: Five Star/Gale Cengage

Review Posted Online: Oct. 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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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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A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be...


Box takes another break from his highly successful Joe Pickett series (Stone Cold, 2014, etc.) for a stand-alone about a police detective, a developmentally delayed boy, and a package everyone in North Dakota wants to grab.

Cassandra Dewell can’t leave Montana’s Lewis and Clark County fast enough for her new job as chief investigator for Jon Kirkbride, sheriff of Bakken County. She leaves behind no memories worth keeping: her husband is dead, her boss has made no bones about disliking her, and she’s looking forward to new responsibilities and the higher salary underwritten by North Dakota’s sudden oil boom. But Bakken County has its own issues. For one thing, it’s cold—a whole lot colder than the coldest weather Cassie’s ever imagined. For another, the job she turns out to have been hired for—leading an investigation her new boss doesn’t feel he can entrust to his own force—makes her queasy. The biggest problem, though, is one she doesn’t know about until it slaps her in the face. A fatal car accident that was anything but accidental has jarred loose a stash of methamphetamines and cash that’s become the center of a battle between the Sons of Freedom, Bakken County’s traditional drug sellers, and MS-13, the Salvadorian upstarts who are muscling in on their territory. It’s a setup that leaves scant room for law enforcement officers or for Kyle Westergaard, the 12-year-old paperboy damaged since birth by fetal alcohol syndrome, who’s walked away from the wreck with a prize all too many people would kill for.

A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be welcome to return and tie up the gaping loose end Box leaves. The unrelenting cold makes this the perfect beach read.

Pub Date: July 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-58321-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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