An unusually traditional whodunit for the rowdy heroine and her cohort, and one whose biggest disappointment is the...



The 21st appearance for Virginia blacksmith Meg Langslow (Die Like an Eagle, 2016, etc.) finds her battling vandals, murderers, quarreling family members, and variously hotheaded locals—in other words, business as usual, though this time with more than a little of the edge taken off.

Biscuit Mountain Craft Center seemed like such a great idea when Meg’s grandmother Cordelia Blake opened it that it’s hard to imagine anyone who’d take objection to its mix of artists, crafters, eager students, and idlers like the Slacker, whose constant shifting from one workshop to another causes comment without consternation. But a rash of vandalism, from slug-infested potter’s clay to rain-damaged watercolors to ball bearings scattered over the dance studio’s floor to obscene and sexually suggestive material in two media, says otherwise. Looking to contain the damage before negative publicity closes the center, Meg’s grandfather Monty Blake announces that greedy developers who have their eye on Biscuit Mountain have launched a personal vendetta against him. Or the malefactor might be Calvin Whiffletree, whose Jazz Hands Art Academy Cordelia had studied closely, both to copy some of its practices and to avoid others, before opening her rival operation. Before Meg can follow up any of these possibilities, the pranks take a lethal turn when arrogant painting instructor Edward Prine, whose studio has already suffered one round of vandalism, is fatally attacked. Riverton police chief Mo Heedles, hearing of Monty’s impassioned argument with Prine over the subject of one of his paintings, which looks just like an extinct Ord’s gull, anoints him her chief suspect. But why would Meg’s grandfather, a dedicated bird-watcher, have killed the only person who might have led him to the location of the impossible bird?

An unusually traditional whodunit for the rowdy heroine and her cohort, and one whose biggest disappointment is the near-invisibility of the party whodunit.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-07856-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Dunne/Minotaur

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.


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.


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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