Long but rewarding: trademark George, with elements of the classic procedural nicely joined to today’s headlines. Fans won’t...

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THE PUNISHMENT SHE DESERVES

More mayhem most British from practiced mysterian George (A Blanket of Consequences, 2015, etc.): the 20th Inspector Lynley novel.

The “she” of the title is a floating pronoun: It could refer to a victim or to DS Barbara Havers, who has been sent up to A.E. Housman country from New Scotland Yard to investigate a murder most foul. Or is it a suicide most foul? In any event, the unfortunate demise while in police custody of Ian Druitt, a respected deacon of the Church of England lately suspected of pedophilia, turns out to be grounded in plenty of motive, whether deserved or a smoke screen for another crime. Enter Detective Chief Superintendent Isabelle Ardery, a woman hardened by a horrid divorce and too-liberal application of alcohol to her many problems, for when it turns out that Druitt is well-connected and an MP has come calling for favors, Assistant Commissioner Sir David Hillier, a Yard honcho with a nose for sniffing out political and personal opportunity, sends not Inspector Lynley but Ardery to help Havers with the case, thus putting another “she” in line for punishment. George is an ascended master of the artfully tangled plot, elaborate without being overly busy; everyone who enters into the picture plays a part. Lynley is rather far afield at first, as Havers takes the lead—and given that Lynley was first introduced in 1988, 30 years ago, he’s coming up on retirement age anyway. But once Ardery turns out to be trouble, enticing Havers to chug down “some kind of vodka in a glass the size of my mum’s Easter bonnet” and neglecting some key evidence in the ugly case, Lynley is back on the scene, and not a minute too soon. George, though American, is at home in the all mod cons world of suburban England, and she weaves many topics into her pages, from alcoholism and binge drinking to immigration, rave culture, nationalism, town versus gown, and police politics. Oh, and there’s no shortage of suspects, either.

Long but rewarding: trademark George, with elements of the classic procedural nicely joined to today’s headlines. Fans won’t be disappointed.

Pub Date: March 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-95434-7

Page Count: 704

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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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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The racism, classism, and sexism of 50 years ago wrapped up in a stylish, sexy, suspenseful period drama about a newsroom...

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LADY IN THE LAKE

Baltimore in the 1960s is the setting for this historical fiction about a real-life unsolved drowning.

In her most ambitious work to date, Lippman (Sunburn, 2018, etc.) tells the story of Maddie Schwartz, an attractive 37-year-old Jewish housewife who abruptly leaves her husband and son to pursue a long-held ambition to be a journalist, and Cleo Sherwood, an African-American cocktail waitress about whom little is known. Sherwood's body was found in a lake in a city park months after she disappeared, and while no one else seems to care enough to investigate, Maddie becomes obsessed—partly due to certain similarities she perceives between her life and Cleo's, partly due to her faith in her own detective skills. The story unfolds from Maddie's point of view as well as that of Cleo's ghost, who seems to be watching from behind the scenes, commenting acerbically on Maddie's nosing around like a bull in a china shop after getting a job at one of the city papers. Added to these are a chorus of Baltimore characters who make vivid one-time appearances: a jewelry store clerk, an about-to-be-murdered schoolgirl, "Mr. Helpline," a bartender, a political operative, a waitress, a Baltimore Oriole, the first African-American female policewoman (these last two are based on real people), and many more. Maddie's ambition propels her forward despite the cost to others, including the family of the deceased and her own secret lover, a black policeman. Lippman's high-def depiction of 1960s Baltimore and the atmosphere of the newsroom at that time—she interviewed associates of her father, Baltimore Sun journalist Theo Lippman Jr., for the details—ground the book in fascinating historical fact.The literary gambit she balances atop that foundation—the collage of voices—works impressively, showcasing the author's gift for rhythms of speech. The story is bigger than the crime, and the crime is bigger than its solution, making Lippman's skill as a mystery novelist work as icing on the cake.

The racism, classism, and sexism of 50 years ago wrapped up in a stylish, sexy, suspenseful period drama about a newsroom and the city it covers.

Pub Date: July 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-239001-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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