A decidedly jarring echo from the Roaring Twenties, neatly culled from press reports.




The bizarre Jazz Age tale of a dopey aristocrat and the lowly young woman he wed then tried to shed, invoking some highly charged issues of sex, class, race, and forgotten niceties.

Back in 1924, Leonard Kip Rhinelander, scion of a wealthy old New York family, married comely Alice Jones. After one month and six days, Kip left his bride and filed a noxious lawsuit seeking to have his marriage annulled. She fooled him, he said. Alice didn’t tell him that she was “colored.” The Rhinelander case was made for the press, mainstream as well as yellow. Reporters besieged Alice’s family, describing her white mother and “dusky” father (both immigrants from England), as well as her sisters and their consorts. Feckless Kip, it appeared, had known the family well before the nuptials, and after the wedding had lodged chez Jones with his bride. Disenchantment with Cinderella began when Papa Rhinelander found out about his new daughter-in-law and promptly dispatched his lawyers to redeem the blessed family name. It was a time when pseudo-science, at the service of social taboos, was preoccupied with racial assignment. The country, as well as the jury, wanted to know if a blueblood had been allied with a woman who had “black blood in her veins.” Did Alice dupe Kip by pretending to be pure white? Did she vamp him and make him her “love slave,” or was the lad simply lacking in stalwart manliness? During proceedings that resembled a carnival as much as a trial, minstrel man Al Jolson was called to testify that he never met Alice, the mother of the bride was grilled, and (because race was thought to be more evident around one’s torso) Alice was obliged to disrobe before the gentlemen of the jury. Yet demure Alice, back in her cloche, prevailed and Kip, in his spats, faded away.

A decidedly jarring echo from the Roaring Twenties, neatly culled from press reports.

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-393-05019-X

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2001

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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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