A few unresolved storylines, but the main attraction’s the investigation, which the author delivers with confidence.

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A Killing In D.C.

From the Chronicles of Detective Marcus Rose series , Vol. 1

A woman’s suspicious suicide becomes another murder case for a squad of homicide detectives in this debut mystery and series opener.

A body means a trip to Georgetown for Detective First Grade Marcus Rose of the Washington, D.C., Police Department. Laura Whittington, daughter of pharmaceutical company President and CEO Robert Whittington, has died from an apparent suicide. Physical signs of strangulation and the right-handed victim seemingly shooting herself in the left temple lead Marcus to surmise murder, which a medical examiner later confirms. There’s even possible DNA underneath Laura’s fingernails, a chance that she scratched her assailant. Detectives canvass the area and question neighbors, and it isn’t long before they lock onto a viable suspect: boyfriend Walter Chase, who, according to the housekeeper, had been aggressive with Laura on previous occasions. Despite the lack of hard evidence, Marcus’ partner and fresh-from-Narcotics trainee, Detective Logan Steele, is sure Walter’s their guy, especially because he’s not particularly upset over Laura’s demise. But there’s no discernible motive, and as Logan aptly puts it, what reason would Walter have to kill his “meal ticket”? A closer inspection reveals a lot more going on, which may have something to do with the victim’s affluent father. One thing’s for sure: the solution won’t be as simple as it first appeared. White’s detective story starts off with a bang, quickly establishing the lead investigator and the murder scene. There aren’t many suspects, but the author still manages a twist or two before it’s over. Despite the sturdy mystery, the story occasionally feels like a mere introduction. Subplots involving other detectives, for example, sometimes go nowhere. Notwithstanding, supporting characters revel in the spotlight, like Detective Anthony “Big Russ” Russo, the 30-year veteran whose emotions are finally catching up to him, unable to stop himself from crying along with the victim’s mother. White’s descriptive details are effectually blunt: Marcus questions a man with “cold dark eyes that would bring a chill to most.” Contrarily, past and present tenses that alternate throughout the present-day narrative prove a little disorienting.

A few unresolved storylines, but the main attraction’s the investigation, which the author delivers with confidence.

Pub Date: June 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4996-6046-3

Page Count: 134

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 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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An appealing new heroine, a fast-moving plot, and a memorably nightmarish family make this one of Box’s best.

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THE BITTERROOTS

The creator of Wyoming Fish and Game Warden Joe Pickett (Wolf Pack, 2019, etc.) launches a new series starring a female private eye who messes with a powerful family and makes everyone involved rue the day.

Cassie Dewell’s been taking a monthly retainer from Bozeman attorney Rachel Mitchell for investigations of one sort and another, but she really doesn’t want to look into the case of Rachel’s newest client. That’s partly because Blake Kleinsasser, the fourth-generation firstborn of a well-established ranching family who moved to New York and made his own bundle before returning back home, comes across as a repellent jerk and partly because all the evidence indicates that he raped Franny Porché, his 15-year-old niece. And there’s plenty of evidence, from a rape kit showing his DNA to a lengthy, plausible statement from Franny. But Cassie owes Rachel, and Rachel tells her she doesn’t have to dig up exculpatory evidence, just follow the trail where it leads so that she can close off every other possibility. So Cassie agrees even though there’s an even more compelling reason not to: The Kleinsassers—Horst II and Margaret and their three other children, John Wayne, Rand, and Cheyenne, Franny’s thrice-divorced mother—are not only toxic, but viperishly dangerous to Blake and now Cassie. Everyone in Lochsa County, from Sheriff Ben Wagy on down, is in their pockets, and everyone Cassie talks to, from the Kleinsassers to the local law, finds new ways to make her life miserable. But Cassie, an ex-cop single mother, isn’t one to back down, especially since she wonders why anyone would take all the trouble to stop an investigation of a case that was as rock-solid as this one’s supposed to be.

An appealing new heroine, a fast-moving plot, and a memorably nightmarish family make this one of Box’s best.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-05105-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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