The cops are no more pure than the criminals are purely corrupt, in a novel awash with moral ambiguity.

LITTLE CRIMINALS

A character-driven police procedural with an Irish twist.

Originally published in the United Kingdom in 2005, before Kerrigan’s American novelistic debut (The Midnight Choir, 2007), this work by the Dublin-based journalist shows his keen insight into the myriad varieties of human nature. Frankie Crowe is a career criminal who knows that it’s just a matter of time until he’s caught (he has been, he has served time and he’s prepared to do it again), but he can’t stop scheming to plot the big score that will have him “playing in a different league.” To do so, he must try to enlist at least lip-service support from Dublin crime boss Jo-Jo Mackendrick, who has been Frankie’s benefactor and whose life is the sort that Frankie envies. After a tip inspires a pub robbery that goes laughably awry, showing that the hotheaded Frankie lacks the cold calculation of a master criminal, he decides that a kidnapping will more than compensate for the pot of gold the pub failed to deliver. He recruits a band of accomplices who have previously dabbled with him in petty crime, some of whom have since gone straight and have various degrees of enthusiasm for the scheme and confidence in Frankie. The target: a well-to-do family who aren’t what Frankie thinks they are, and who keep secrets from each other. The question then becomes how much Frankie can extort from Justin Kennedy, whose home the kidnappers invade, for the release of his wife, Angela. There are some provocative parallels between the work Justin does and Frankie’s life of crime, and the novel reveals a particular empathy for Angela, who tries to trust at least one of her kidnappers and is never quite sure that she can trust her husband. The novel also spends plenty of time inside the mind of Inspector John Grace, whose previous familiarity with Frankie might help jump-start a stalled career.

The cops are no more pure than the criminals are purely corrupt, in a novel awash with moral ambiguity.

Pub Date: May 15, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-933372-43-3

Page Count: 388

Publisher: Europa Editions

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2008

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?

A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be...

BADLANDS

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

Did you like this book?

more