More concentrated than Kathleen’s debut, Wright’s second entry begins to develop a detective who can shine through all those...

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THE GRANITE MOTH

Private eye Kathleen Stone (The Red Chameleon, 2014) gives her wigs a workout trying to figure out who’s menacing New York’s drag queens.

Everybody loves a parade, except maybe the NYPD, whose members worry that the city’s annual Halloween trek up Sixth Avenue will somehow get out of hand. This year, the boys in blue have a point. As fireworks boom overhead, Darío Rodriguez, known to his fans at the Pink Parrot as Dolly, begins to belt out “Rocket Man.” Suddenly someone in the crowd pushes a juggler tossing fire batons in the air near the Pink Parrot float, setting the papier-mâché stage ablaze, badly burning Dolly and killing fellow performers Bobbie Giabella and Taylor Soto. Grieving over the loss of two of her rising stars, owner Lacy “Big Mamma” Burstyn hires Kathleen to find their killer. She shows her an engraved funeral notice she received forecasting not only Bobbie's and Taylor’s deaths but those of Dolly and fellow performers Herman White, Ravi Sethi, Aaron Kline, Carlton Casborough, and Juniper Summer. Believing the card to be from the homophobic Zeus Society, Kathleen dons a blond wig and a frumpy gray dress to pose as Kate Manning, who asks Zeus leader Cronos Holt to help cure her fictitious gay nephew. In addition, Kathleen asks her old NYPD pal Ellis Dekker to help her infiltrate the Skyview, a members-only club owned by Salvatore Magrelli’s wife, Eva, hoping to catch the mob boss red-handed in some dastardly deed. Ellis’ brother wangles Kathleen’s red-wigged alter-ego Katya a place in a high-stakes poker game, where she watches the dealer crumple and die after a sip of champagne. When Kathleen learns that Ernesto Belasco was also gay, she suspects there’s more nastiness going on at the Skyview than cheating at cards. But connecting Belasco’s death with the fire on the Pink Parrot float will take grit, gumption, and even more disguises.

More concentrated than Kathleen’s debut, Wright’s second entry begins to develop a detective who can shine through all those costume changes.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60598-893-1

Page Count: 284

Publisher: Pegasus Crime

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

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SHAKESPEARE FOR SQUIRRELS

Manic parodist Moore, fresh off a season in 1947 San Francisco (Noir, 2018), returns with a rare gift for Shakespeare fans who think A Midsummer Night’s Dream would be perfect if only it were a little more madcap.

Cast adrift by pirates together with his apprentice, halfwit giant Drool, and Jeff, his barely less intelligent monkey, Pocket of Dog Snogging upon Ouze, jester to the late King Lear, washes ashore in Shakespeare’s Athens, where Cobweb, a squirrel by day and fairy by night, takes him under her wing and other parts. Soon after he encounters Robin Goodfellow (the Puck), jester to shadow king Oberon, and Nick Bottom and the other clueless mechanicals rehearsing Pyramus and Thisby in a nearby forest before they present it in celebration of the wedding of Theseus, Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta, the captive Amazon queen who’s captured his heart, Pocket (The Serpent of Venice, 2014, etc.) finds Robin fatally shot by an arrow. Suspected briefly of the murder himself, he’s commissioned, first by Hippolyta, then by the unwitting Theseus, to identify the Puck’s killer. Oh, and Egeus, the Duke’s steward, wants him to find and execute Lysander, who’s run off with Egeus’ daughter, Hermia, instead of marrying Helena, who’s in love with Demetrius. As English majors can attest, a remarkable amount of this madness can already be found in Shakespeare’s play. Moore’s contribution is to amp up the couplings, bawdy language, violence, and metatextual analogies between the royals, the fairies, the mechanicals, his own interloping hero, and any number of other plays by the Bard.

A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-243402-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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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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