Although Wood’s last Prior Ford novel did offer up a murder (Mystery in Prior’s Ford, 2012, etc.), the series and her latest...


The people of the small Scottish border town of Prior’s Ford have their secrets large and small.

Linn Hall is home to the Ralston-Kerr family. Determined to restore the glory of Linn’s gardens, they have been working for years with the help of summer students and passionate garden expert Ginny Whitelaw. Ginny is in love with Lewis Ralston-Kerr, who is not over a failed love affair that produced a little girl. Ginny, an attractive and intelligent young woman, avoids her mother, the actress Meredith Whitelaw, a beautiful, self-centered woman who has either ignored or criticized Ginny most of her life. When Meredith agrees to open the annual garden fete, it is with the proviso that Linn Hall’s never-used formal rooms be thrown open and a dinner provided for her and the fellow actors she is bringing with her. The ground floor is scrubbed and decorated by the local women, and Meredith comes up with a plan to have their restoration paid for and filmed for TV with her as presenter. Alison Greenlees is trying to convince stubborn local farmer Ewan McNair to marry her. Sam Brennan and Marcy Copleton run the local store, but a big secret from Marcy’s past is going to cause problems. Helen Campbell is married to the Linn Hall gardener but has recently won a contest to write a serial for a magazine; she already secretly writes the agony aunt column for the local paper. When a newcomer, a retired college professor with a secret, offers to pay her double to type his articles, she accepts, little knowing that it will change her life forever. The pace of life may be slow, but there are always things going on under the surface.

Although Wood’s last Prior Ford novel did offer up a murder (Mystery in Prior’s Ford, 2012, etc.), the series and her latest entry is really a pleasant, romantic look at life in a small town.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7278-8219-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Severn House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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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. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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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 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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