A gripping page-turner with ample suspense despite its flaws.

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KILLING IN TIME

HOW WELL DO WE KNOW THE ONES WE LOVE

A grisly double murder in a California mansion upends one woman’s quiet family life.

Carroll’s debut thriller opens with a bang: Two murder victims narrate their own deaths. Kristina Jecawski and New Zealand rugby player Donny McKenna are found murdered at Kristina’s California mansion with no leads other than an abusive ex-husband and some bloody footprints (early pages recall the Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman murders). Next-door neighbor Julianne Macnair, pediatrician and wife of a successful property developer, arrives home with her son, Teddie, and steps into a pool of blood—it’s the first sign that her life will be completely turned upside down. Carroll takes readers on a whirlwind ride through Julianne’s life, from her somewhat difficult marriage to Simon to her fulfilling job at a clinic, from her college days in Washington to her current life as the mother of two sons and a stillborn baby. As Julianne’s life expands, she becomes a foil for Kristina, a mother with endless male suitors and multiple plastic surgeries. Carroll also attempts to tie in unsolved murders in the Pacific Northwest, but the move seems forced. Each of the major (and some of the minor) characters gets a chance to narrate the book—Julianne, Kristina, Simon, Kristina’s ex-husband, members of the police force and the doctor at Julianne’s clinic. While the device serves to quickly draw readers in, it loses steam since all of the voices sound the same. Carroll solidly characterizes Kristina and Julianne, but while she provides many details for the other characters, none of them has a strong voice. Carroll is a pediatric physician, so the medical aspects of the book stand out, although the ending isn’t exactly surprising.

A gripping page-turner with ample suspense despite its flaws.

Pub Date: May 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-956079527

Page Count: 212

Publisher: Wordsmith Press

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2012

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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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Creepy, violent, and propulsive; a standout gothic mystery.

THINGS IN JARS

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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