Shorn of the understated period background that frames Adams’s trademark hero, Depression-era itinerant Carl Wilcox (Lead,...

THE FOURTH OF JULY WAKE

A year and a half after marrying ex-nurse Sorah, three months after leaving his body to the University of Minnesota Hospital and his fortune to Sorah, P.J. Krueger dies of an apparent heart attack. What could be more natural than the death of a 64-year-old in bed with his 24-year-old wife? Even so, P.J.’s daughter Marcia, stung less at being disinherited than at being replaced as the family’s queen bee, insists that Sorah somehow murdered the old goat. At the “memorial party” Sorah’s organized in lieu of the funeral P.J. forbade, fuming Marcia asks Kyle Champion, the former TV news reporter and anchor turned private eye who’s come at the invitation of Marcia’s brother Matt, to prove the charge. But it won’t be easy, since the party—part wake, part family reunion—is crawling with relatives and hangers-on who had their own reasons for wanting their father, father-in-law, or ex-lover dead. As if suspicion isn’t scattered generously enough, Kyle (When Rich Men Die, 1987) will also have to deal with three comely, forbidden ladies all intent on turning his head and with the ghostly apparition of a loony neighbor whose alleged death in a bus accident hasn’t stopped him from popping up, armed with a hatchet, just when things are getting friendly between Kyle and one of those ladies.

Shorn of the understated period background that frames Adams’s trademark hero, Depression-era itinerant Carl Wilcox (Lead, So I Can Follow, 1999, etc.), this decorous hothouse gossipfest lumbers as interminably as the house party from hell.

Pub Date: April 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-7862-3000-2

Page Count: 172

Publisher: Five Star/Gale Cengage

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2003

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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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Joe’s fifth case is his best balanced, most deeply felt and most mystifying to date: an absolute must.

OUT OF RANGE

Crime-fighting Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett outdoes himself during a temporary transfer from sleepy Saddlestring to fashionable Jackson Hole.

Will Jensen, the Jackson game warden, was a great guy and a model warden, but once his wife left him six months ago, he spiraled into madness and suicide, and now Joe’s been called to replace him. The transition is anything but smooth. There’s no question of Joe’s family coming with him, so he’s reduced to hoping he can get a signal for the cell-phone calls he squeezes into his busy schedule. En route to his new posting, Joe has to pursue a marauding grizzly. He arrives to meet a formidable series of challenges. Cantankerous outfitter Smoke Van Horn wants to go on attracting elk with illegal salt licks without the new warden’s interference. Animal Liberation Network activist Pi Stevenson wants him to publicize her cause and adopt a vegan diet. Developer Don Ennis wants to open a housing development for millionaires who like their meat free of additives. Ennis’s trophy wife Stella simply wants Joe—and he wants her back. As he wrestles with these demands, and with a supervisor riled over Joe’s track record of destroying government property in pursuit of bad guys (Trophy Hunt, 2004, etc.), Joe slowly becomes convinced that Will did not kill himself.

Joe’s fifth case is his best balanced, most deeply felt and most mystifying to date: an absolute must.

Pub Date: May 5, 2005

ISBN: 0-399-15291-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

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