As usual (Death at the Seaside, 2017, etc.), Brody provides an excellent feel for life in postwar England along with a...

READ REVIEW

DEATH IN THE STARS

The solar eclipse of 1927 provides the perfect backdrop for murder.

Private inquiry agent Kate Shackleton is intrigued when she gets a visit from adored stage star Selina Fellini and her manager, Trotter Brockett. Selina is married to Jarrod Compton, a talented composer who writes most of her songs but was badly scarred both physically and mentally in the war and is becoming more erratic every day. Now that she’s been invited to witness the eclipse by the Astronomer Royal at the Giggleswick School, Selina claims to be anxious about all the things that could go wrong on a trip that must be carefully planned to get her back in time for her latest performance. Kate arranges for herself, Selina, and her friend, famous comedian Billy Moffatt, to fly up and back. The eclipse is wonderful, but when Billy vanishes and is found near death, Kate suspects that there’s more to Selina’s fears than she’s revealed. Although the doctor is sure Billy’s suffering from a drug overdose, Kate thinks the cigar he was smoking was poisoned. Testing proves her right after Billy dies in the hospital. When they return to Leeds, Selina admits she suspects that two accidental deaths of her fellow performers may actually have been murders, and it’s obvious that she fears her husband may be involved. With the help of her housekeeper, Mrs. Sugden, and her assistant, former policeman Jim Sykes, Kate investigates the theater crowd in hopes of finding a better suspect. Along the way, she learns a good deal about the trends in a theatrical life on the cusp of changing over from music hall acts to plays and movies, and she wonders whether the motives for murder may lie in that change.

As usual (Death at the Seaside, 2017, etc.), Brody provides an excellent feel for life in postwar England along with a clever mystery full of theatrical red herrings.

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-15479-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: Nov. 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

Child builds tension to unbearable extremes, then blows it out in sharply choreographed violence, even if his plot has more...

ECHO BURNING

From the Jack Reacher series , Vol. 5

Smashingly suspenseful fifth in Child’s series (Running Blind, 2000, etc.) lands this British author’s rootless, laconic action hero in southwest Texas, where a femme fatale lures him into a family squabble that inevitably turns violent.

In the kind of daylight-noir setting that Jim Thompson loved, ex-military cop Jack Reacher has his thumb out on a lonely west Texas highway when he’s picked up by Carmine Greer, the Mexican-American wife of bad-ol’-boy Sloop Greer. It seems that Sloop, elder son of a white-trash-turned-oil-rich ranching dynasty, is nearing the end of a prison term for tax evasion, and Carmine, whose body Reacher sees is marked with signs of physical abuse, wants Reacher to be her bodyguard—or, failing that, kill the man in such a way that Carmine can still hold on to her terminally cute six-year-old daughter Ellie. Reacher refuses but decides to meet the folks: Rusty, Sloop’s racist, charmless mother, and Bobby, Sloop’s stupid, pugnacious brother. Meanwhile, a trio of paid assassins is littering the Texas roadside with corpses, starting with Sloop’s lawyer, Al Eugene. In a set-piece as good as anything in Elmore Leonard, Bobby sends two ranch-hands to ambush Reacher at an Abilene roadhouse filled with 20 other cowboys spoiling for a fight. Reacher walks away without a scratch, telling Bobby that his hospitalized ranch-hands have “quit.” Child twists his increasingly hokey plot into a pretzel when Sloop is found dead and Carmine confesses to killing him. Reacher just can’t believe that Carmine is guilty and teams up with Alice Aarons, a leggy Jewish lesbian fresh out of law school, who trusts him with her car, her handgun, and her life.

Child builds tension to unbearable extremes, then blows it out in sharply choreographed violence, even if his plot has more holes in it than the shirt Reacher uses for target practice.

Pub Date: July 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-399-14726-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2001

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more