This sequel to Scandal in the Secret City (2014), which has some basis in fact, is faster-paced than Fanning’s debut while...

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TREASON IN THE SECRET CITY

The secret World War II–era nuclear experiments carried on at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, provide ample incentives for spying—and ample opportunities for amateur sleuths.

Scientist Libby Clark may still be fighting sexism in the mostly male environs of Oak Ridge, but she’s gained the trust of several male colleagues who respect her opinions and talents as part of the group they call the Walking Molecules. So it’s only natural that her colleague Marvin Gray wants her to help his cousin Frannie Snowden, who he fears is about to be arrested for treason. Marvin claims that Frannie, a none-too-bright telephone operator, was convinced by Dr. Edwin Hansrote to put secret calls through her switchboard to a number in New York City. When Frannie listened in on a call, she realized that Hansrote was not receiving information but passing it on. Now Frannie’s hiding in a derelict cabin deep in the woods. When Marvin fails to show up for work, Libby and her pals search the woods and find his badly beaten corpse tied to a tree. They help Frannie escape to a hotel in town, where she pretends to be the wife of a group member while the rest of them try to figure out how to prove that Hansrote is a spy. The pressure cooker of suspicion that permeates the facility makes it nearly impossible to know whom to trust. A major crisis in her family forces Libby to visit her old home in Virginia and brings back bitter memories, but her friends carry on the investigation until she returns to them and to even greater danger.

This sequel to Scandal in the Secret City (2014), which has some basis in fact, is faster-paced than Fanning’s debut while maintaining the 1940s atmosphere and emphasizing the difficulties of wartime life, especially for educated women.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7278-8615-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Severn House

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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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