Despite its heroine’s many problems, this lighthearted debut tale of mystery, love, and a delightful sleuth will leave you...

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A LADY'S GUIDE TO ETIQUETTE AND MURDER

A Victorian lady’s sense of self-worth is much improved when she takes control of her life.

Frances Price, Countess of Harleigh, is making a bold attempt to gain some independence. Frances, the daughter of a wealthy American family, did not marry for love, but her husband, Reggie, loved and freely spent her money while she cared for their daughter, Rose. A year ago, Alicia Stoke-Whitney came to Frances’ room to announce that Reggie had died in her bed. To avoid scandal, Frances asked George Hazelton, her best friend Fiona’s brother, to help move his body. Since then, despite opposition from Reggie’s brother, Graham, and his wife, Delia, who badly need Frances’ money, she’s rented a house in London. Frances is startled to discover that her neighbor is George Hazelton and further shaken by a visit from Inspector Delaney of the Metropolitan Police, who’s investigating a rumor that her husband did not die of a heart attack. Her next surprise is the arrival of her sister Lily with her Aunt Hetty, who’s taking the place of her mother—a welcome relief—while Frances launches Lily in society. She also gets a check for a hefty sum she badly needs because Graham has gone to court to get her money and her account has been frozen until the case is decided. Frances’ social circle is already buzzing over a series of robberies at fashionable parties and balls. When someone dumps a valuable bracelet in her reticule at the Stoke-Whitney ball, she enlists the help of Hazelton, who has reasons of his own to find the thief. As she worries about the investigation of Reggie’s death and vets her sister’s suitors, all of whom had opportunities to steal the valuables, she learns more and more about Hazelton while fighting her strong feelings of attraction toward him. A murder in her garden just adds to her problems, and now she must find the strength to overcome them.

Despite its heroine’s many problems, this lighthearted debut tale of mystery, love, and a delightful sleuth will leave you wanting more—which is presumably just what Freeman has in mind.

Pub Date: June 26, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4967-1687-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

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SHAKESPEARE FOR SQUIRRELS

Manic parodist Moore, fresh off a season in 1947 San Francisco (Noir, 2018), returns with a rare gift for Shakespeare fans who think A Midsummer Night’s Dream would be perfect if only it were a little more madcap.

Cast adrift by pirates together with his apprentice, halfwit giant Drool, and Jeff, his barely less intelligent monkey, Pocket of Dog Snogging upon Ouze, jester to the late King Lear, washes ashore in Shakespeare’s Athens, where Cobweb, a squirrel by day and fairy by night, takes him under her wing and other parts. Soon after he encounters Robin Goodfellow (the Puck), jester to shadow king Oberon, and Nick Bottom and the other clueless mechanicals rehearsing Pyramus and Thisby in a nearby forest before they present it in celebration of the wedding of Theseus, Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta, the captive Amazon queen who’s captured his heart, Pocket (The Serpent of Venice, 2014, etc.) finds Robin fatally shot by an arrow. Suspected briefly of the murder himself, he’s commissioned, first by Hippolyta, then by the unwitting Theseus, to identify the Puck’s killer. Oh, and Egeus, the Duke’s steward, wants him to find and execute Lysander, who’s run off with Egeus’ daughter, Hermia, instead of marrying Helena, who’s in love with Demetrius. As English majors can attest, a remarkable amount of this madness can already be found in Shakespeare’s play. Moore’s contribution is to amp up the couplings, bawdy language, violence, and metatextual analogies between the royals, the fairies, the mechanicals, his own interloping hero, and any number of other plays by the Bard.

A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-243402-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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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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