The second installment of prolific Cotterill's new series (Killed at the Whim of a Hat, 2011, etc.) definitely puts the fun...

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GRANDDAD, THERE'S A HEAD ON THE BEACH

Exploding grenades, Burmese slaves and, yes, a head on the beach. How much excitement can one tiny Thai town take?

Highly engaging narrator Jimm Juree still stings from the abrupt relocation of her family to a run-down town on the Gulf of Siam after she's worked many years as a crime reporter in the bustling university city of Chiang Mai. It was eccentric Mair, Jimm's mother, who decided to trade in the family's raggedy urban convenience store for an inflated seaside dream of a resort. Restless for adventure, Jimm is mostly stuck keeping her loony Granddad Jah out of trouble and her depressive musclehead brother, Arny, out of the dumps. And she can only fantasize about Hollywood screenwriting success with her transsexual writing partner, Sissi. So when a head washes up on the beach, Jimm, beside herself with excitement, plunges in to probe its origin. In short order, two ratlike bureaucrats show up and attempt to keep Jimm away from their investigation, sound advice that she naturally ignores. Ironically, Jimm's plans to ferret out the head's identity keep encountering detours courtesy of the incognito pair of women who check skittishly in to the resort, and the mystery figure in mother Mair's bed. Thai/Burmese relations and explosions on the beach figure in the loopy solution.

The second installment of prolific Cotterill's new series (Killed at the Whim of a Hat, 2011, etc.) definitely puts the fun in family dysfunction. Jimm, an Asian Stephanie Plum, rattles steadily to a solution, with many hilarious episodes along the way.

Pub Date: June 19, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-312-56454-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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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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