A detective who more than holds his own, be it with his fists or intellect.

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Day of the Tiger

From the A Carlos McCrary Novel series , Vol. 5

A private investigator, helping a man in debt to a thuggish loan shark, ends up working a kidnapping and human trafficking case in this latest entry in Gorham’s (McCrary’s Justice, 2016, etc.) thriller series.

Al Rice has his share of vices, but gambling is what puts him in a $200,000 hole with Montgomery “Monster” Moffett. The latter earns his nickname by pulverizing Al’s left hand with a ball-peen hammer and promising more broken bones if Al doesn’t pay what he owes. Moffett further threatening Al’s mother, Doraleen, gets his old college football teammate and friend Tank Tyler involved. Doraleen’s a second mom to Tank, who turns to private eye/former Special Forces warrior Chuck McCrary. Simply finding the currently missing Al is Chuck’s first task, which entails visiting the gambler’s favorite spots: a local strip club or two. Keeping both Al and Doraleen safe, however, becomes the harder part. Chuck has law enforcement pals from when he was a cop, but that doesn’t stop Moffett’s goons from going after the Rices, and a bloody confrontation leaves people dead, others injured, and someone abducted. Now that the $200,000 (plus interest) is a ransom, the FBI’s curiosity is piqued, especially regarding Moffett’s likely association with human trafficking. Chuck, meanwhile, discovers a secret from Tank and Al’s college football days, which may explain why Tank’s been covering Al’s debts for years. Though the story initially consists of Chuck forking over cash for information about Al, a mystery slowly makes its way into the plot. It’s clear from the beginning, for example, that Tank’s holding back on why he feels he owes Al, and it seems Al displays a keen interest in the strangely hard-to-find dancer Jasmine. Chuck’s tough, surprising a couple of heavies who try to grab him, but faces intimidating foes, particularly Moffett’s henchman Teddy, sporting a pronounced facial scar and what Al considers a “creepy-looking knife.” Unfortunately, girlfriend Miyoki Takahashi adds nothing to either the tale or the protagonist. She’s a character appearing in name only, who evidently resembles a stripper and, sans an “exclusive relationship,” doesn’t hinder any of Chuck’s potential sexual escapades.

A detective who more than holds his own, be it with his fists or intellect.

Pub Date: March 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5304-3554-8

Page Count: 312

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 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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