The biggest mystery is how the reader can figure out what happened so quickly, yet it takes the commissario di polizia the...

THE WATERS OF ETERNAL YOUTH

From the Commissario Guido Brunetti series , Vol. 25

Venice might be sinking into the sea, but as long as Commissario Guido Brunetti is around, there will be someone to make sure the city doesn't become a total swamp of cynicism and corruption.

This is Leon's 25th book about Brunetti (Falling in Love, 2015, etc.), and the usual suspects are all here. There's Paola, Brunetti's wife, able to whip up a three-course lunch between teaching English literature and reading Henry James for fun. Their children, Raffi and Chiara, provide mealtime repartee that often leads to philosophical debate: "I wondered if it's against the law to ask people for money on the street," Chiara says one day. Brunetti’s boss, the professionally dim Vice-Questore Giuseppe Patta, is once again manipulated by Brunetti, and Patta’s secretary, the supersharp Signorina Elettra, as always plays the Internet like a maestro: at one point, Brunetti finds her “with both hands raised and motionless over the keyboard of her computer, a pianist about to begin the final movement of a sonata.” The book begins at another glittering dinner party given by Brunetti's mother-in-law, Contessa Falier, at which he and Paola are representing ordinary Venetians while another countess, Demetriana Lando-Continui, tries to raise money from wealthy foreigners for her preservation group. Contessa Lando-Continui also wants to ask Brunetti a favor: could he please look into something that happened 15 years earlier, when her granddaughter almost drowned in a canal, suffering permanent brain damage? This gives him a chance to walk around the city, wondering how “tourists find things, with only street addresses to guide them? He didn’t like this new age, much preferred having someone tell him the address he was looking for was the house with the new shutters to the right of the greengrocer opposite the flower shop that had the cacti in the window. Any Venetian would understand that.”

The biggest mystery is how the reader can figure out what happened so quickly, yet it takes the commissario di polizia the whole book to catch on. Still, the pleasures of spending time with Brunetti and the gang have never been greater.

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8021-2480-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Atlantic Monthly

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 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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A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be...

BADLANDS

Box takes another break from his highly successful Joe Pickett series (Stone Cold, 2014, etc.) for a stand-alone about a police detective, a developmentally delayed boy, and a package everyone in North Dakota wants to grab.

Cassandra Dewell can’t leave Montana’s Lewis and Clark County fast enough for her new job as chief investigator for Jon Kirkbride, sheriff of Bakken County. She leaves behind no memories worth keeping: her husband is dead, her boss has made no bones about disliking her, and she’s looking forward to new responsibilities and the higher salary underwritten by North Dakota’s sudden oil boom. But Bakken County has its own issues. For one thing, it’s cold—a whole lot colder than the coldest weather Cassie’s ever imagined. For another, the job she turns out to have been hired for—leading an investigation her new boss doesn’t feel he can entrust to his own force—makes her queasy. The biggest problem, though, is one she doesn’t know about until it slaps her in the face. A fatal car accident that was anything but accidental has jarred loose a stash of methamphetamines and cash that’s become the center of a battle between the Sons of Freedom, Bakken County’s traditional drug sellers, and MS-13, the Salvadorian upstarts who are muscling in on their territory. It’s a setup that leaves scant room for law enforcement officers or for Kyle Westergaard, the 12-year-old paperboy damaged since birth by fetal alcohol syndrome, who’s walked away from the wreck with a prize all too many people would kill for.

A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be welcome to return and tie up the gaping loose end Box leaves. The unrelenting cold makes this the perfect beach read.

Pub Date: July 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-58321-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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