Dark, unrelenting and powerful, though it would have been even finer without the schizophrenic ramblings, the descriptions...

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THIS BODY OF DEATH

Tragedy blights lives in a dozen different ways.

Grieving widower Thomas Lynley (Careless in Red, 2008, etc.) returns to New Scotland Yard to assist temporary Acting Superintendent Isabelle Ardery, who is acerbic, volatile and an alcoholic in denial. This potent cocktail hardly helps her relationship with her ex, her sons and Lynley’s old staff, or produces sound judgments regarding the investigation of Jemima Hastings’s murder. Jemima, who dealt with the death of her parents by leaping into love every chance she got, whether or not the man cared for her, had recently ended a relationship with Hampshire thatcher Gordon Jossie, although her usual pattern had been to stay until she was dumped. What caused the rift? Jossie, now intimately involved with a woman named Gina, has two dark secrets, one horrific, the other promising a financial windfall if he takes advantage of it. Did these secrets lead him to murder Jemima? Isabelle considers a schizophrenic musician her prime suspect for the killing. But with the help of Barbara Havers, who’s crotchety about Lynley’s growing attachment to Isabelle, Lynley digs away at Jemima’s neighbors in her London rooming house, where venality collides with tragedy.

Dark, unrelenting and powerful, though it would have been even finer without the schizophrenic ramblings, the descriptions of every shop along the High Street, the primer on thatching, the plight of New Forest ponies and Isabelle’s constant retreats to the ladies’ room for a swig of vodka and a breath mint.

Pub Date: April 20, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-06-116088-2

Page Count: 704

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 30, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2010

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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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