MURDER MOST MYSTERIOUS

THE FIRST ADVENTURE IN THE GLENDA AT LARGE MYSTERY SERIES

Set in a mythical town on the bluffs of the Oregon coastline, Wigglesworth’s first installment of the Glenda at Large Mystery series is a cozy, quirky whodunit and adult ghost story.

Though it begins with a mysterious murder on the beach, readers quickly realize that the focus of Glenda’s stay in Perch Cove is not going to be the details of the case. Instead, the story revolves around Zylda, the town psychic, who is intent on establishing Glenda as her successor. In fact, the narrative proves to be full of red herrings—first the beachside murder and then the setup of kindhearted widower Perry as a potential love interest for Glenda. But perhaps the biggest red herring of all is Glenda herself as the star of the book. Though the jacket introduces her as a “sixty-two year old bottle blonde,” the text never actually describes her, beyond a few passing comments about her weight. Zylda, by contrast, is described strikingly from the outset as a turbaned, classic spirit guide. As a result, Glenda, who is narrated in the third person, feels like a vehicle—or, shall we say, a medium—rather than a fully developed character. Augmenting this sense is the narrative’s reliance on dialogue to represent the majority of the action, which unfortunately burdens the characters’ conversations with so much expository detail that it obscures their individual voices. Dialogue is also often given without setting or attributions, which, especially as chapters or sections are opening, gives the conversations a ghostly effect. But perhaps this is a manifestation of form following function, as the novel morphs into a ghost story about halfway through. Wigglesworth’s narrative skills shine through in the italicized, first-person sections that punctuate several of the earlier chapters in which Zylda and café-owner Bill are able to tell their stories in their own voices, liberated from the awkwardness of expository dialogue. A quick, conversational read with the coziest of settings that leaves readers longing for a stronger narrator.

 

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2011

ISBN: 978-1466282025

Page Count: 323

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2011

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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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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

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