“You’re really something,” the incredulous police chief tells the hero. “You want everything tied together.” Well, yes. This...

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THE MAN IN THE CROOKED HAT

A private eye’s dogged search for his wife’s killer uncovers a cascade of murder that reaches back 20 years.

In the two years since his wife, photographer Olivia Makinnen, was strangled on the shore of the Huron River, Jack Pellum has thought of nothing but the man he’s convinced killed her: a man wearing a fedora whom he’d spotted in the neighborhood a few days before she died. He’s left the Detroit PD to pursue the case, hung up posters with a sketch of the man, and badgered Carl Dumisani, his former partner, for leads about similar murders. Now there’s a lead so promising it’s eerie. Just this week, Daniel Cavanaugh, a writer who hanged himself after his own wife’s death, painted a message on his wall: “There’s a killer, and he wears a crooked hat.” Convinced beyond reason that the two men in hats are the same, Jack tears into Cavanaugh’s background with the ferocity of a starving mastiff. He discovers that Cavanaugh’s friend, odd-job man Paul Rook, saw the man in the hat nine years ago, two days before his mother, Bonnie Rook, was murdered, and that Cavanaugh’s brother, Alex, was killed a decade before that. Unable to convince either Dumisani or Belleville Police Chief Keely Tanager that these deaths are all connected, Jack plows on and discovers still more victims. Dolan reveals in the opening chapter that the man Jack is looking for is Michael Underhill, a blandly self-excusing type whose unassuming profile makes him both easy to overlook and deeply disturbing. But although no human power can distract Jack from his mission, the impending mano a mano is deferred by a number of ungainly complications that make Dolan’s extravagantly plotted earlier thrillers (The Last Dead Girl, 2014, etc.) look like models of coherence.

“You’re really something,” the incredulous police chief tells the hero. “You want everything tied together.” Well, yes. This investigation, at once remorselessly logical and remarkably diffuse, invites readers who want the same thing to take a closer look in the mirror.

Pub Date: Nov. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-15797-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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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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Creepy, violent, and propulsive; a standout gothic mystery.

THINGS IN JARS

Lady detective Bridie Devine searches for a missing child and finds much more than she bargained for.

Bridie Devine is no stranger to the seedy underworld of Victorian London. An accomplished detective with medical training, she sometimes helps the police by examining bodies to determine the cause of death. Bridie recently failed to find a lost child, and when she’s approached about another missing child, the daughter of Sir Edmund Berwick, she isn’t enthusiastic about taking on the case. But Christabel Berwick is no ordinary child. Sir Edmund has hidden Christabel away her whole life and wants Bridie to believe this is an ordinary kidnapping. Bridie does a little digging and learns that Christabel isn’t his daughter so much as his prized specimen. Sir Edmund believes Christabel is a “merrow,” a darker and less romanticized version of a mermaid. Bridie is skeptical, but there are reports of Christabel’s sharp teeth, color-changing eyes, and ability to drown people on dry land. Given that Bridie’s new companion is a ghost who refuses to tell her why he’s haunting her, Bridie might want to open her mind a bit. There’s a lot going on in this singular novel, and none of it pretty. Bridie’s London is soaked with mud and blood, and her past is nightmarish at best. Kidd (Mr. Flood’s Last Resort, 2018, etc.) is an expert at setting a supernatural mood perfect for ghosts and merrows, but her human villains make them seem mundane by comparison. With so much detail and so many clever, Dickensian characters, readers might petition Kidd to give Bridie her own series.

Creepy, violent, and propulsive; a standout gothic mystery.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-2128-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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