Another complex, well-researched tale shows that the protagonist and his progressive wife don’t suffer the boredom of...

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WHEN FALCONS FALL

Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, takes on his 11th case when he and his wife investigate an apparent suicide.

Emma Chance was a young widow who came to the quiet town of Ayleswick-on-Teme to sketch the local buildings. But when the son of Lucien Bonaparte, younger brother of the emperor, discovers Emma’s body next to an empty bottle of laudanum, local magistrate Archibald Rawlins calls in Devlin. Rawlins is young and new to his position, and he knows that Devlin, who’s in the neighborhood with his wife, Hero, has worked with Bow Street before (Who Buries the Dead, 2015, etc.). Devlin establishes that the young woman was smothered to death, but before he can figure out who did the deed, the murder of a government agent further complicates the case. While Devlin is investigating the two killings, he’s also trying to solve the mystery of his own life by discovering who his father was. He passes as the son and heir of the Earl of Hendon, but he knows he’s the issue of his mother’s affair with another man. His search gives him something in common with Emma, who came to Ayleswick to learn about her own parentage. And her fate is eerily similar to that of two other young women who supposedly killed themselves. Devlin doesn’t rule out the suspicious presence of Lucien Bonaparte, supposedly estranged from his more famous brother and a houseguest of the gracious Lady Seaton, whose son had fallen in love with Emma. While Hero is researching the devastating effects of the loss of the local communal land, she helps Devlin with his investigation, even at her own peril. A long-ago fire, a house party that led to tragedy, a missing sketchbook, a quotation from Hamlet ripped from the book of the parish vicar, and the sinister presence of a gibbet further entangle the couple and complicate Devlin’s personal quest.

Another complex, well-researched tale shows that the protagonist and his progressive wife don’t suffer the boredom of everyday domesticity.

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-451-47116-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Obsidian

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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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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