CHARITY'S BURDEN

Plenty of suspects keep the pot bubbling as Maxwell examines the roots of the abortion controversy that continues to this...

Murder poses difficult challenges for a compassionate 19th-century Quaker midwife in Massachusetts.

When Rose Carroll is called to the bedside of impoverished Charity Skells, a woman who already has five children and appears to be having a miscarriage, she finds her patient’s bleeding so excessive that she takes her to the hospital. The doctors are unable to staunch the bleeding; Charity dies; and Rose suspects that she may have resorted to an illegal abortion. Before the Comstock Act of 1873, abortions were legal, but ever since it was passed, even birth control has been against the law, placing a heavy burden on women who bear child after child their families can't afford and often sending both mother and baby to an early grave. Rose knows how dangerous illegal abortions can be, especially if they're not done properly. She fears there may have been a motive for Charity’s deliberate murder when she realizes her patient's husband is having a dalliance with a woman he works with at Lowell’s Boat Shop. Charity’s well-to-do parents disliked her husband so much that they refused to help the couple financially and are now devastated and furious at her death. After Rose (Turning the Tide, 2018, etc.) shares her suspicions with police detective Kevin Donovan, a well-placed friend, he manages to arrange an autopsy that proves Charity died from a perforated uterus. Rose misses the sage advice of her fiance, David, a physician who is out of town. And she’s sad because her 18-year-old niece is about to wed while she and David still await his mother’s approval. Rose’s search for possible abortion providers earns her threats and puts her in physical danger. Because her actions are motivated by her faith, she won’t let threats keep her from doing the right thing as she seeks the truth.

Plenty of suspects keep the pot bubbling as Maxwell examines the roots of the abortion controversy that continues to this day.

Pub Date: April 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7387-5643-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Midnight Ink/Llewellyn

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

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. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

BADLANDS

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

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 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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